Author: MT Vasudevan Nair
Publisher: Current Books
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Revisionism is not a popular style when it comes to Indian Literature. There have never been many champions who thought ‘what if a certain story of old was not how it actually happened?’ and tried to look at the same story from a different perspective. The only recent Indian book I can think of in this vein must be ‘Asura’ by Anant Neelakantan, who tried to portray a different image of Ravana through his book. Though an honest attempt, the novel defied logic and sensibilities of the readers and was marred with erratic storytelling.
Hence ‘Randamoozham’ or The Second Turn penned by Jnanpith award winner M.T.Vasudevan Nair, one of the living legends of Kerala literature, has to be held in high esteem. This work, which was first, published in 1984, won the Vayalar award for the best literary work in Malayalam of the year. Randamoozham is a retelling of the Indian epic Mahabharata from the view point of the second Pandava, Bhima. What makes this work stand apart is in the way the author has steered away from the mythological setting, and in the masterstroke of casting the characters as mere mortals, a stark contrast from the divine and godly setting portrayed in the epic.
The story takes the reader right from the time of Kunthi and Pandava’s re-entry in to Hasthinapura following King Pandu’s death, through all the major incidents stated in Mahabharata, to a stunning climax. The title itself has the touch of a genius and is a fitting way to showcase the second-hand treatment meted out to Bhima by everyone all through his life. The book beautifully captures the pain and tribulations of Bhima and shows Kunthi,Draupadi, Dronacharya, Yudhishtira, Krishna, Arjuna, Karna, Duryodhana and all the other major players of this story as mere humans of flesh and blood. Every incident stated in Mahabharata as a divine intervention is shown in a new light to the readers. The master wordsmith also describes how the bards make it a point to blow an incident out of proportion. The way in which political and mind games of Mahabharata are played out giving equal importance to all the characters is well worth a mention, as is the way in which he describes the times, architecture and lifestyle of that era. The work was hugely successful and well received by the reader despite the controversial and divisive tone of the subject.
I urge readers to get their hands on this classic at the earliest. The original Malayalam version is of 300 pages and is available at several bookstores online. For non-Malayalam readers there is an English translation available as well.
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