Jaya An Illustrated Retelling of Mahabharata – Devdutt Pattanaik.
After reading (and loving) “Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of Ramayana” by Devdutt Pattanaik – I just couldn’t resist this one and had to pick up that too immediately. Anyways both of them were or I can say still are the most loved “Epics” from our part of the world and who won’t remember their Television adaptations some two decades ago, which paused our worlds throughout their run-time. My granny actually got the actress’s picture framed – who played Sita on TV (Deepika someone) and touched the feet of guy who played Krishna in Mahabharat. What all memories these epics invoked inside each one of us is totally amazing. I wanted to actually see if it will still make the same impact on me the way it did then and am not even surprised that it indeed does. Unfortunately comparisons are inevitable and if I have to judge between the two – I will always say I love “Mahabharat” more than “Ramayan” – this had too many of my favorite characters like “Karn”, “Bhishm” and of-course the world favorite “Krishna” in no particular order and how can I not love “Arjun” or even “Yudhishthir” and that hunk “Bhim”, the list is going to get longer. But if I compare Devdutt’s versions (Illustrated one’s are awesome) I found “Jaya” to be too underwhelming, he started pretty well but loses the steam somewhere mid ways followed by a haphazard abrupt ending, I kept asking for more but it wasn’t to be, still it works on more counts than it fails and I still found it unputdownable and kudos to his research, references, stories and the knowledge behind plethora of unheard (unsung) characters. Totally wonderful read.
This is my and his I guess second book with Illustrations and I will call it a collector’s item especially for our upcoming generations. As they have no idea of these stories that we all have grown up with, they are no more on TV (the newer versions are lousy I heard) and even if their are any good ones – kids have no interest in mythological serials and stories now a days. It is a terrific attempt and I totally loved the way he has carved out each and every character – giving them all what is their proper due that too with those amazing illustrations – loved those drawings, I had no idea until I read these two that illustrated versions would be this much fun. Of-course reading them back to back is double the fun as story actually continues in this one from where they left at the end of “Ramayan” and goes from here to the current “Kaliyug” – I now need to find out what he has written after this one in continuation. Of course his “Gita” is one that I am picking up next right after I finish posting this 🙂 as I said earlier – its just irresistible to not to (is that correct grammatically?). Never-mind. Incredible is the word which comes to my mind to sum it up in one word. I never imagined that the stories that we have heard so many times, yet the way it is retold even when I knew whats next? it keeps getting better and made me smile, laugh, cherish, think, go emotional, made me think of a different way out and so much more. Timeless classic is what these are and will remain at least for our generation as many times we pick them in different versions, still having the same impact.
If you have read Sita and Jaya and also Gita – do let me know if it made the same impact on you too? Did you like (or love) them the same way we used to back then or have you found any other better versions by some other writers. As I would love to lay my hands on them too and read em all. But if you haven’t read these – I will highly recommend that you better do it now and do it soon. They are a must must read for all.