In an interview post the box office failure of Bhavesh Joshi Superhero, filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane in an interview exclaimed that a crucial reason for the failure of the film was the fact that true Indian superheroes never concealed their identity behind a mask, they never wore a suit, instead, arrived mostly bare-chested, generally carrying a bow-and-arrow or a sword in their hands. Amish Tripathi has been successfully using this troupe in all his fiction books starting with The Immortals of Meluha. And, Raavan- Enemy of Aryavarta is no different.
This is the third book in the Ram Chandra Series which comes two years after the release Sita- The Warrior of Mithila but, with a changed name, from Orphan of Aryavarta to Enemy of Aryavarta. The book traces Raavan’s journey from his birth to the kidnaping of Sita, the Princess of Mithila and wife of Ram. Like the previous two books in the series, the format remains more or less the same. The protagonist of the respective book is born (usually following some mysterious events, but not this time), we stick with them during their days of infancy and then comes a major event in their life which forms the basis of their purpose on the earth which if followed by the climax. Neat. But unexciting. This structure is followed by many writers but after a while it becomes too predictable.
But Raavan’s story is a little different. It’s the story about a warrior, a pirate, a trader, a king, a brother, an orphan, but more than anything else, an enemy. An enemy of the land that gave him everything and took away everything from him. And the change of title surely helps Tripathi in this endeavour.
I quite vividly remember the clinical role played by Amish in shaping my understanding of multiple truths and multiple realities thus, what was expected was a story from the perspective of Raavan but the product is nothing but a carefully refined collection of our prior understanding of the king of Lanka as a evil man who is nothing less than a monster.
Perhaps in Tripathi’s view having a high intellect, a good ear for music, a good had at art and a special kind of loves and fondness for one’s younger brother are reasons enough to consider a character like anyone of us but other than a few moments here and there, there is not an instance where you get an impression that Raavan could possibly have a heart and blood running through his veins. What comes as a result is a one-note character making his way at becoming not just the wealthiest man on the planet but the wealthiest man in the history of the planet.
In the initial part of the story I felt really uncomfortable when Kaikesi, Raavan’s mother, addressed him by his name because for me this name doesn’t have any positive connotations, it is supposed to be evil, and Tripathi does not even attempt to question these stereotypes. It is made crystal clear very early on in the book that Raavan wants to win and he would not shy away from using unfair means to achieve his objective.
What comes as a surprise was Tripathi, who chooses to remain apolitical in public, dedicating more than two pages in his book to make a statement about the ongoing controversy over the Sabarimala Temple, which, in no way helped in the progression of the story.
But there are other instances when it feels like Tripathi doesn’t trust his readers completely which leads him to explain each emotion by twice underlining them. I cannot possibly find a better reason to justify why an author would categorically mention Raavan referring to his brother using his full name and not Kumbha as he usually does because he is angry with him. Seven books in to his writing career, its time Tripathi should realize how his readers have also matured with him through his journey.
In the end, Raavan- Enemy of Aryavarta is part of Tripathi’s ambitious five-book series which finds ways to redeem itself through its simplistic and approachable narration of a rather complex tale but in totality, fails to leave a mark.
I’m going with 2 out of 5 stars.
To purchase Raavan- Enemy of Aryavarta click here.