Review: Ramayana (Book 4) – Stand Strong by Shubha Vilas

Since last few years, author Shubha Vilas has been on a mission of rewriting the great Indian epic Ramayana in a six part book series. His intention is to present every little incident of the story in a way it appeals to the younger generation and provides them with wisdom to deal with everyday life situations.

After completing the first book, I was skeptical as to whether the author would be able to maintain the interest in the books to come. Today, I am glad to have been proven wrong. Vilas has continued the good work of the earlier three books in Ramayana: The Game Of Life – Stand Strong.

The story of this book focuses on Rama and Laxmana’s meet with Sugriva and its consequences. Sugriva’s life has been transformed into hell by his brother Vali. After an unpleasant mission in the forest, Vali develops great misunderstanding towards his brother. He kidnaps Sugriva’s wife Ruma and banishes him from the kingdom.

Ramayana 04 Stand StrongSugriva finds shelter at the Rishimukh mountain, where Vali can’t land due to a curse. But he continues to kick him daily without landing on it. Rama makes an alliance with Sugriva. He will help him eliminate Vali and free Ruma. In return Sugriva would help Him in His mission of rescuing Sita from Ravana.

The biggest myth Vilas has been able to smash through his books is that Ramayana is a simple story without many layers. He has once again put forward the deepness of the epic. So much so, that in this book, he has concentrated mostly on Vali and Sugriva than Rama. The story of the two warring brothers is surprisingly fascinating. Vilas makes it more interesting through the intelligent use of flashback.

The author has continued his own style of dramatic narration, which works again. His movie-like manner of presenting major as well as minor incidents regularly adds excitement. The very last portion related to Hanuman deserves special mention. It not only ends the book on a high but also produces the same effect that Bahubali generated whenever he shouted ‘Jai Mahishmati’ in the Bahubabli two movies.

But Stand Strong has a negative point which can’t be ignored. The portions where Sugriva introduces Rama with the chiefs of Vanarasena and later when he explains different regions for their search appear dry. You lose grip and also get confused with too much of information thrown in.

Besides, there is an incident that is more than questionable. When Laxmana angrily stomps into Sugriva’s palace to remind him of his promise, he kills a number of monkey soldiers while displaying his anger. Why kill them when they were just doing their duty? Besides, isn’t Sugriva your most trusted and only ally?

Overall: Stand Strong does what was required. The book continues the good work of the previous three books and makes you eager to read the next one in the series.

Review by: Keyur Seta

Rating: 3.5/5

Author: Shubha Vilas

Pages: 326

Price: Rs 350

Publishers: Jaico Books

Cover: This one is way different from the previous three covers. The sky blue colour and simple fonts make it look like a self-help book, which it is in a way.

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Book Review: Ramayana – Stolen Hope

Author: Shubha Vilas

Stolen Hope is the third book in Ramayana: The Game Of Life series after The Rise Of The Sun King and Shattered Dreams. Authored by Shubha Vilas, the story continues during Rama, Sita and Lakshmana’s exile period in the Dandakaranya forests. Despite living a life of ascetics, the trio is happy in their own world amid sessions of storytelling. However, they are forced to encounter demons a couple of times but Rama defeats them comprehensively.

But a bigger misadventure awaits them when the demoness, Supranakha falls madly for Rama and, later, Lakshmana. Infuriated by her evil antics, Lakshmana chops off her ears and nose. When she narrates her sorry tale to her brother Ravana, the king of Lanka, she also mentions about Sita’s exquisite beauty. Being a lustful womanizer to the core, Ravana decides to ‘enjoy’ Sita at any cost.

Ramayana-Shubha-VilasShubha Vilas has continued with his delightful writing this time around too and this is hardly a surprise. Almost every sentence of his is rich, free-flowing and gripping. Like his previous two attempts, it will appeal to those who love reading rich literature as well as someone from vernacular medium.

The story takes some time to develop properly though. But once it gets into the action mode, there is no looking behind. The most important sequence of Sita’s kidnapping is handled with a lot of creativity and maturity. Going by the theme of the series, the author has provided important and positive messages even during tragic sequences.

This book lives up to the tagline – Seek courage when everything, including hope, is stolen – with some handy messages of wisdom woven throughout the narrative. There are short wisdom snippets at the bottom of each page again. It’s just that on few occasions, they are quite lengthy this time around.

Apart from the slow pace early on, the book suffers from some sexism, like the previous one. In order to point Rama’s weakness, Sita taunts him for being a woman disguised as man. To consider any type of weakness as a byproduct of being a woman is downright sexist. Since the book is written for today’s generation and the fact that we don’t exactly know what Sita must have said to Rama, the author could have easily given any other analogy.

Coming to the appearance, the cover picture is a beautiful work of art. It forces you to glance at it again and again. The quality of pages is smooth and the font is eye-friendly. This book also has a flip book feature, which is a pleasant surprise.

Rating: * * * ½

Pages: 307

Publishers: Jaico

Additional feature: Preview of the fourth book in the series

Price: Rs 299 (discounted rates available online)

Review by: Keyur Seta