Bhimsen by Prem Panicker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars Mahabharath always fascinates me. There is a story for everyone in this epic. Just when I was getting impatient with the literary material coming my way, I stumbled upon Prem Panicker's retelling of MT Vasudevan Nair's "Rendamoozham". I'd felt a similar "oh yes" moment when I read the translation of Vishnu Sahasranamam which is a chronicle of Bhisma's talks with Yudhistra. Among these workds, I get the comfort of a known story while still being thrilled by a new narrative. Bhimsen/Rendamoozham is Mahabharath from Bhima's point of view. When the reviewer at blogbharathi.com mentioned that Rendamoozham can mean "second best", it caught my attention. How can Bhima survive under the overbearing presence of Yudhishtra and Arjuna? The answer is a gritty saga and is available among the pages of 'Bhimsen'. Bhimsen is not your Amar Chitra Katha-like version of the great yarn. It is cold, logical and contemporary in many ways. I've secretly admired scifi explanations such as the Kauravas being the first known case of human cloning and Karna's use and throw weapons were nuclear in nature. The supernatural mythological ethereal happenings are usually filed away with a godly hand in most narratives. Here, the supernatural mythological ethereal works get an explanation with logical backing. Panicker/Nair blame the mythical goings on as media hype from that age. Apparently mankind has been a news junkie from time immemorial. Yesteryear cable news men existed in the form of balladeers and raconteurs adding spice to common happenings to elevate their yarns. In Bhimsen I found logical explanations to Arjuna's magical weapons, the seemingly ageless presence of the characters, the whole Draupadi issue (no explanation for the saree without border though!) and best of all how can Yudhistra be so noble? It is this style of giving a grounded narration that kept me glued to my computer screen as I finished the 377 pages of the e-book over a weekend. I am gland that I discovered this after Panicker completed it rather than follow his blog with periodic updates. Mahabharatha is not a black and white story. Bhimsen manages to show the different shades of grey that only help accentuate the true colors of mankind. Bhima has been a superhero inside out. Sadly, this will never translate to my other favorite medium - cinema. Putting this up on a screen will mean the cinematic equivalent of telling western kids that Santa is not real. The moral police will not allow that. View all my reviews >>
Bhimsen by Prem Panicker
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
An unusual narrative. McCarthy imagines a dull and desolate world - post apocalypse. A father whose only purpose in life is to keep the fire burning in his son. A son who is still young enough to have innocence and a sense of right and wrong. The two travel through burnt down towns and landscapes of ash. They are lucky at times in their journey across the country in search of humanity. That luck is however only relative as they deal with hunger,illness and other perils constantly. The inner eye can only see grey while reading this book. There the author succeeds in his depiction of the apocalyptic world. Again, an unusual narrative - dialogs seem like monologues some times. The small strand of hope that binds the story is present but I became aware of its presence only after finishing the book.
It appears to be an impossible novel to make a movie out of. However, that is what Viggo Mortensen and friends have tried. Not sure if I will watch that one.
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I am trying hard to use "Counterintuitive" somewhere in my daily verbiage.