May 21, 2015

A Review of Shattered Dreams (Book II: Ramayana - The Game of Life)

Shattered Dreams is a sequel to the first book in Ramayana - The Game of Life written by Shubha Vilas, a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker. Honestly, I have not read the first book titled Rise of Sun Prince, which was based on first chapter or Bal Kanda of Ramayana. But then, a book based on one of the most popular epics is like packing old wine in a new bottle. What really matters is the way it is presented.

Unlike works of fiction, epics like Ramayana does not revolve around a central theme; rather myriads of sub plots are involved. The sub plots themselves are so subtle that it requires a qualified scholar to interpret and tell the story, while retaining its original meaning intact. However, new authors/publishers are more interested in popularizing epics, just like scientific findings reached the common man through popular science series. The advantage is that it makes many young readers "read" the work. The flip side is that only the essence can be captured through such "fast read" works.

Through The Game of Life series, the author has made an attempt to rewrite Ramayana in a "readable" way targeting young Indians. I must say that the author has done a commendable job in achieving this. The book is surely a page turner, so fast that one does not realize that he/she is reading from a classic epic story. This itself is a great achievement in my opinion, as the original work was written ages ago in a language which now barely a few speaks.

In order to add more spice to the story which many of us have already read or heard through different sources, the author has written anecdotes at every page. Though adding spice would excite more taste buds, a food which is entirely made of spice can never be had. As the saying goes, “too much of anything is good for nothing”. While some of the anecdotes were interesting to read, most of them are philosophical.

In a work of fiction, it is not common for a reader to say that I had to read a particular paragraph twice to understand what the author is saying. In my case, I had to read several anecdotes twice to understand what the author is saying! The flow gets affected due to this and that makes the “readable” book non readable. But then, what makes these anecdotes irksome is their presence in almost every page. It sometimes made me wonder if I am reading two books at the same time, instead of one! My suggestion to new readers; ignore the anecdotes and read the story first. After you are done with reading, go through the anecdotes.

We live in an era at which our youngsters do not have time to read classic epics nor to hear them from their granny’s. A few decades ago, Rajagopalachari (popularly known as Rajaji) wrote a simple and yet concise version of Ramayana. Shubha Vilas has reproduced a similar version, but this time catering to the masses.
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PS: I should have written this review ages ago! However, I could not find time to sit and compile my views due to prior work commitments. I sincerely appreciate blogadda's patience and tender my apologies for such a prolonged delay.