Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Immortals Of Meluha by Amish: Impressions

   Reading this book was like watching a Hindi remake of an English film, or worse still, watching a Bhojpuri remake of a Hindi film. While one cannot help but notice the merit of the story, it is the execution that is umm... a 1.5 on 5. It is like the tale is smooth, but the telling, rough. Perhaps the 'National Bestseller' *eyeroll* does not deserve such a harsh introduction. Perhaps one shouldn't expect purist language, when the novel is about an histori-mythi-cal society.
   Amish is a good storyteller. If nothing, the plot is rivetting, and the adaptation of familiar characters, myths and geographical locations into the novel, is creditable. But every now and then, as I began to drown into the story, out sprang a line like: What the hell is wrong with the woman? OR Dammit, these bloody people don't understand, and jarred my sensibilities as a reader. Here I am, flowing with the life and times of an ancient people, imagining pictures and sounds from that era, and suddenly, a line, straight from the brazen tongues of today, rudely teleports me back to now. I cannot fault the author for not knowing how a tribal from some thousands of years ago swore, but I grudge him for not trying to match his choice of words with his choice of period. I blame it on B R Chopra (whose 'Mahabharat' I grew up watching) that I cannot imagine mythological figures cursing in Gen X lingo. The writer may have taken his target readers into consideration, but sorry Amish, you lost just too many points there.
   Where the writer has scored is, in the simplicity and pace of narrative, the brilliant, I repeat, adaptation of mythological stories associated with Lord Shiva (the protagonist's namesake), and some lovely research and explanation of some age-old traditions, words and symbolism. The way the concepts of vikarma (and consequently, karma), ideal society or Ram Rajya, Somras, Agnipareeksha, and Mahadev among others, have been explained, is remarkable. Also, names like Shiva, Nandi, Sati, Daksha and Brihaspati have been beautifully lifted off ancient texts, placed aptly and coloured correctly.
   But again and again, where the book has failed me, is in its language - simple to a fault, clichéd, and jarringly modern.
   However, what hasn't worked for me, has probably worked for other readers, making it a hugely popular book of the recent times. Dissatisfied though I am, I look forward to the sequels, if only to benefit from clever new adaptations and perspectives of my favourite old tales.


Uday Mane said...

You covered all the points that I noted when I read the book. Honestly, I did not finish it, reading about 100 pages, I shut it. Somehow, the book did not connect with me. At times I felt as if I was reading an Indian version of bits and pieces of Dan Brown books put together. Maybe I am wrong, but beats me too how the book connect with so many. Heard about the 2 sequels lined up. If I get through the first one, maybe I will go for the 2nd hoping the improvement rightly stated by you are implemented.

Nikhil said...

Nice and short. This is quite a talked about book and i had illusions of something special in there. But i take your word for it, esp on the 'Dammit' and 'What the hell' type of language considering a historical book. A lil longer review would've been nice to read too. Maybe on the sequel if it indeed comes out. Vent it out at leisure then. :)

Joy Manavath said...

Dammit .. i was so looking forward to reading this book :) .. Oh well .. thanks for the insight!

The Wandering Minstrel said...

ur so right. hit the nail on the head i say. i could not, would not, should not accept that sort of jarring modern language in a tale that is dripping with mythical potential. just killed my buzz entirely.

rohit said...

An enjoyable read The Immortals of Meluha by Amish . loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.