I have never been a big comic fan. Just read a few here and there, Archies, Tinkles, Chacha Chaudharys, and last year some Japanese comic (I don’t even remember the name). Never planned and bought any of them. Most of the times on the station (while taking a train from Kolkata to Delhi) or the Japanese one online (a friend forced me to read it) or sitting amid the mess during Diwali cleaning while sorting out books from a discarded brown box (my brother had a collection). They were always an option when I didn’t want to read 100 pages (yes, you read it right) of heavy text (saying this is like a sin when you are a Journalism student, and one of my teachers will probably hang me for this, but never mind this is not for her).
So, now one day, all of a sudden, while working on a college project, this gtalk window pops up with a link. Sender is brother, looks like some random flipkart link, minimize and continue working, get tired of working, take a look at the minimized window...send two question marks (??), get a reply- take a look. Ok, something called Ravanayan (Book-1) by Vijayendra Mohanty, Vivek Goel. Price: Rs. 50. The name said pretty much, but go back to the chat window, what is it about?, reply- google it, you'll like it. I hated google at that moment.
Looks interesting- The story of the one who lost. Sit almost for an hour reading the reviews and comments. Go back to the flipkart link, order it. First planned comic bought. The comic reminded me of a long debate that I had with an old relative on what is more realistic- Ramayan or Mahabharat. Ramayan most of the time puts me to sleep(not really). Hero, the good guy, never did anything wrong, villain, the bad guy, never did anything right, hero's love story, hero defeats the villian. It was all very black and white, very little shades of grey. Mahabharat, on the other hand was full of characters with shades of grey. Even Krishn for that matter. It's more like how people behave in real life and not always idealistic.
What I had always missed out was realising that Ravan (in Ramayan), who is considered to be the epitome of adharma and the archetypical villain is actually a very interesting character. He is the ruler of Lanka, a Brahmin, the greatest ever known devotee of Lord Shiva, a just king, a great scholar, extremely wise, so formidable that even the gods were not up to the task of ending his reign on the earth. Ram was well aware of the powers of Ravan which is why after shooting his last arrow on Ravan (which resulted in killing him), he asks Lakshman to go and request Ravan to share his wisdom because if he dies, all his wisdom will be lost forever to the world.
So, Ravanayan in basically, as Mohanty says ‘a view of Valmiki’s Ramayan through the lens of Ravan’s dharma’, a price one pays for doing his duty. It is a 10- part series by Vijayendra Mohanty and the superb detailed graphics by Vivek Goel. I love the way the comic opens with dasyu (bandit) Ratnakar (Valmiki, subsequently) and the way Dasha’s (Ravan) mother indirectly explains to him what and who he is and what is to become of him. In fact the way the story unfolds on each panel (I’m not too sure what the little boxes are called) is a complete experience altogether. It is an easy read and anybody with the basic idea of what Ramayan is will easily understand.
The 1st book of the series is out and the 2nd one is soon to hit the newsstands. You will want to die to read them all at once, but I think it’s worth a wait (hopefully). You could buy your copy here or place an order for all the 10 issues at firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy reading! J
(I am extremely sorry for the white highlighted bit, but I have no idea why that is happening)