Press Esc to close
Saturday 01 October 2016
News updated at 2:20 AM IST
Weather
Max: 29.4°C
Min : 21.4°C
In Bengaluru
Generally cloudy

A magical tale

Last updated: 12 February, 2011

LEAD REVIEW

The strength of human emotion and relationships is what transforms this book from a mere historical novel into one that is immediate and relevant, says Jahnavi Barua

ROYAL INTRIGUE Spinning a tale of love along the banks of River Tungabhadra in the  Vijaynagar kingdom.

ROYAL INTRIGUE Spinning a tale of love along the banks of River Tungabhadra in the  Vijaynagar kingdom. Set in the Saka year 1532, along the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the kingdom of Vijayanagar, Saradindu Bandopadhyay’s novel achieves, with remarkable felicity, an unusual feat: the author blends history and human emotion together so skillfully that the reader is presented with a historical novel which feels like a contemporary one.

The illustrious king, Devaraya, the second, rules over the kingdom with a firm, yet, compassionate hand. He is threatened constantly by the Muslim Yavana king and hence remains in a state of vigil. Small skirmishes along border areas are not usual; Devaraya’s brother, Vijayaraya, a brilliant soldier, keeps the military situation firmly under control. To strengthen his hold, Devaraya enters into marriage alliances with princesses of neighbouring kingdoms, deftly bringing those rulers onto his side. The central subject of this novel is one such alliance: his impending marriage to Princess Bidyunmala of Kalinga. In an unusual move, the princess, accompanied by her step-sister, Manikankana, and other dignitaries of her father’s court, sails to Devaraya’s kingdom. Their long, perilous journey is punctuated by significant events, one of which has a profound impact on the course of lives of all the players in this drama.

Woven into this tale of royal intrigue are several familiar elements. The first one that strikes up a resonance in any heart is the unexpected love that flowers in Princess Bidyunmala’s heart; unexpected because the object of her love is not the handsome king whose fourth wife she is to become. This is, obviously, not a love that will be approved of. Raging against the seemingly iron clad rules that govern her royal fate, she says, “Am I my father’s instrument? Do I not have an independent identity of my own?” This statement is an interesting one indeed. Is it suffused with a sentiment that is modern for its times, for even today, women, especially in our country, are still debating it? Or, were those far away times more progressive than our own? Did women have more of a say in their lives than they do today? In the latter case, the princess is not remarkable in expressing her dissatisfaction so eloquently. Anyhow, this illicit love charges the novel with an ever present tension.

There is another love story, more predictable, yet deeply moving in its simplicity and depth — that of Manikankana for the king, who has been chosen for her sister. Around these central entanglements are many others: deceit, greed, betrayal and redemption. Particularly moving is an account of a friendship, a relationship so selfless and pure, that no reader can remain untouched by its power.

The strength of human emotion and relationships in this book is what transforms it from a mere historical novel into one that is immediate and relevant. The vitality that pulses through the telling of the tale keeps the reader riveted — very rarely is attention drawn away from the story. In fact, it is easy to keep turning pages until the conclusion. Quite an accomplishment, considering the subject of the story and the consequent need for a certain formal tone in the narration of it. In accordance with that need, the language of the book is formal; the author relies on a classical slant but his formidable skill as a writer also infuses his writing with an unmistakable lyricism. Consider this. In describing the progress of the Tungabhadra River, the author says, “Her rapid currents like a ringing anklet, the Tungabhadra ploughs a long, lonely furrow on her difficult voyage.”

Throughout the book, this deftness of language and imagery is encountered, something not just the author, but the translator too has to be applauded for.

By the
Tungabhadra
Saradindu
Bandopadhyay, Translated by Arunava Sinha
Harper Perennial
2010, pp 253,
Rs 299


Go to Top

Photo Gallery
A hair stylist Kailash Kashid creates a special hair cut slogan of Maratha Kranti Morcha...

A hair stylist Kailash Kashid creates a special hair cut slogan of Maratha Kranti Morcha...

Actor Salman Khan plays with his sister Arpita's kid at an event for the tie-up between...

Actor Salman Khan plays with his sister Arpita's kid at an event for the tie-up between...

Artisans work on a giant model of Hindu god Ganesh during preparations for the upcoming Durga Puja..

Artisans work on a giant model of Hindu god Ganesh during preparations for the upcoming Durga Puja..

The palace witnessed very little visitors on the day and thus children enjoy playing at the...

The palace witnessed very little visitors on the day and thus children enjoy playing at the...

Temples submerged at Gwari Ghat due to floods caused in Narmada River by heavy rains...

Temples submerged at Gwari Ghat due to floods caused in Narmada River by heavy rains...

Indian Army vehicles move towards border areas in Akhnoor sector on India Pakistan Border...

Indian Army vehicles move towards border areas in Akhnoor sector on India Pakistan Border...

BJP activists celebrate the Indian army's Surgical strikes along the Line of Control in PoK...

BJP activists celebrate the Indian army's Surgical strikes along the Line of Control in PoK...

all-party meeting in New Delhi on Thursday following Indian army's surgical strikes along the LoC...

all-party meeting in New Delhi on Thursday following Indian army's surgical strikes along the LoC...

People celebrate after Indian army's Surgical strikes along the Line of Control...

People celebrate after Indian army's Surgical strikes along the Line of Control...

Artists practice the Garba dance ahead of the Navratri festival in Ahmedabad...

Artists practice the Garba dance ahead of the Navratri festival in Ahmedabad...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523