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Ajaya: Roll of the Dice – Anand Neelakantan (Book)

Ajaya: Roll of the Dice – Anand Neelakantan.

Mahabharat and Ramayan are two of the most loved epics from our part of the world and I have read almost half a dozen of the new-age versions in the name of Mythological Fiction which sells like a hot cake in today’s time. Some of them are damn interesting, some I totally loved, liked and even lived with but there are a very few which I actually end up hating for various personal reasons (call it my personal opinion, like or dislike) and this one unfortunately falls in that sad category where I don’t want any book to put in as far as I can. But this one is an epic disaster of sorts for so many reasons that I would not be able to point out in here because if I really do that, it will not remain a blabber but will turn out to be a book of epic proportions and a comedy of errors of sorts. Also, there are a very few books which make me furiously sad and I swear in the end to never pick anything else from the same Author ever in future, how so much critical acclaim they may gather as they have had indeed shot down some of my all time favorite and loved characters in the name of fiction and fame. This is one such book, if you intend to read this because you may have heard of so much praise for it, you can stop here and get back to doing what you were doing and I will go on blabber a little more about this unfortunate accident and I am not even talking about poor editing (or lack of it – I love this term), spelling mistakes or cringe-worthy grammatical mistakes – I am no expert on any of them anyways, still couldn’t not notice.

I love my mom to teach me one thing very clearly and that is engraved somewhere deeper in my heart that to make my line longer, I am not supposed to erase someone else’s line and make it shorter. If I have to succeed I do not have to make others to fail. Unfortunately I couldn’t say the same for Anand or his parents may have taught him differently, so in quest of telling Duryodhan’s version of the Epic Mahabharat, he has gone overboard in making almost every other character a solid villain and he is pretty good in sketching those characters damn dark. He actually succeeded big time as so far from the versions that I have read, Karn is my all time favorite and now he has made Suyodhan to become my second favorite for sure with his book but unfortunately everything else is a disaster in this story (call it mytho fiction as that’s precisely what this is). I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I read something like Bhim calling Suyodhan a “Blind fool, Son of a blind fool”, howsoever hatred he may have for his father in his heart, this is impossible. The terrific lines his characters kept on mouthing like “I will make an offer you will not be able to refuse”, or Karn trying to bribe the security guards to enter a Kingdom. Pandava’s walking besides Uncle Vidhur and trying not to touch him mistakenly since he was an “Untouchable”. Or the epic disaster of Suyodhan kissing Subhadra (mind it – lip to lip) right below the nose of brother Balaram, that was like a “Wow” moment of the entire book. Or even the best archer of the world mighty Arjun, blinding a dog to prove his prowess in archery or blinding the lover birds at the drop of a hat. I mean, you get a hang right? he left no stone upturned in turning the Pandava’s or almost everybody else from the epic to be a villain and the hero is only one man and that is the great “Suyodhan” who was misunderstood all this while. Guess the Author actually found a temple of Suyodhan down south in India where people treat him like a god, I believe him as that is awesome.

Of-course in the name of Mythological Fiction and retelling anything and everything is allowed since there is no censor board so far monitoring the kind of literature coming out from anyone’s pen. This one actually left the same taste in my mouth as a movie like “Slumdog Millionaire” leaves on every Indian’s mouth of showing India in poor light even in bloody 21st century. Indraprastha (Pandava’s part) and Hastinapur (Kaurava’s part) was no better than the current Dharavi of Mumbai (Asia’s biggest slum) if you already not know that. The epic details in which he has covered the life of downtrodden untouchables from the two states and holds Krishna and Bhishma responsible for what happens in the story is simply beyond me. On the positive side as always the case is with these fictional accounts, I will give him his due by calling it a very smartly written book with a damn good pace that it almost works like a good page turner. I just couldn’t keep it down or trash it mid-ways, had to complete it to know how he decides to end it. This one unfortunately ends at at a point where the reader is totally stuck to know what happens next and the rest would be covered in the sequel that I have sworn not to read (over my dead body). But the damn sad or good thing is that he has converted me into fan of Suyodhan, I would never be able to call him Duryodhan again ever. The guy was totally misunderstood is what I always believed but that does not makes everybody else a villain, I am sure of it.

Some priceless lines and mentions that I will remember for life from this book will be like Balaram telling Karn “Godspeed Karn”. And Suyodhan shouting back on Guru Drona saying “You have eaten Hastinapur’s Salt….”. And I already mentioned the legendary God Father’s line mouthed by Mama Shakuni was the best of the lot. Karn actually getting an Armour as a gift from the followers of Lord Sun :). Lord Indra living a life of a recluse with untouchables as for some reason he was no good to be a God anymore.

If you have read this and loved it, I welcome the brickbats but if you have hated it like I did, here is a Hi5. But if you haven’t read it so far, I will seriously say, stay away man! As we have far better versions to read about the epic. I will definitely move on to Mrityunajaya soon as that’s been on my TBR for quite a while, saying this before everyone jumps and recommends the same to me :). But do let me know your thoughts on the book if you have read it. It’s a Goodbye Good-riddance to Anand Neelakantan from me here.

Published inBook Review

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