Now, Ramayana retold in graphic format

Now, Ramayana retold in graphic format

"Simian" by Vikram Balagopal is a gritty reimagining of the Ramayana that brings to life the scars -physical, moral and spiritual - borne by Hanuman, as he replays history, exploring the decisions one has to make in life and war.

The story is contained within the often glossed-over episode in the Mahabharata where Hanuman and Bhima meet. When Bhima chances upon an ailing monkey blocking his path in the forest, little does he realise that he is meeting his brother Hanuman. As the brothers settle in for a night of exchanging stories and notes, Hanuman tells a surprising tale: of the great war between Ram and Ravan.

"When I made the decision to create Simian, I dived into researching as many versions of these epics as possible and discovered a side to the Ramayana I hadn't known – that it evolved with every version to reflect the sensibilities of the period and the people who produced it," says Balagopal about the book.

The illustrator-cartoonist's source and guide for the Ramayana was a translation of the epic by Ralph T H Griffith, and for any references to the Mahabharata, he used the translation by Kisari Mohan Ganguli.

The book, published by HarperCollins Publishers, is only the first two parts, in a trilogy, of the entire story and confines itself to the events surrounding the search for Sita. The author says the characters' motivations, relationships or even substantial portions of the "main" plot changed from telling to telling.

"In a Jain version, all the characters are depicted as Jains and in the end it is not Ram but Laxman who kills Ravan. A Buddhist versions called the Dasarata Jataka depicts Ram and Sita as siblings who marry, and though Ram, Laxman and Sita are exiled, the abduction of Sita did not finds a place in this version," he says. 

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