Lanka's Princess

by Kavita Kané

Read this in about 4 minutes
'Those who love you always find you beautiful.' Shrupnakha was neither loved nor beautiful. What she was though was a determined woman. This book is a story of Meenakshi who later became Shupranakha. It is the first of its kind that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed. 

Cover page 

On the cover is the lady herself. She is wearing a lot of gold as befits the princess of Lanka and she is looking over a burning palace. The illustration tells a tale of a woman who was the cause of the downfall of the richest city at one time and she does not look very regretful about it. 
The cover is a beautiful composition. Yellow and gold dominate cover, depicting the richness of Lanka very well. The illustration is a little off-centred though. The black patch right in the middle is a little disturbing but one gets over it quickly. The font below compliments the illustration. The red spine stands out of the shelf. 
As always Rupa publication has brought out a great product. The inside is as beautiful as the outside. 

Characters 

Meenakshi's birth shattered all her mother's dreams. It ought to be a boy but sadly it was a girl. Dark asura girl. Her fate was decided as soon as she was born. She was to stay single and lonely. No one would marry asura girl. She would always be an eye sore to her mother who lost Lanka even before she planned her moves. A girl would not help to achieve the goal. She was just a burden. 
Shurpnakha turned out to be just the opposite. She soon learned magic and the art of seduction. She was goodself-defenseense and her mind was as sharp as her older brothers'. A feminist by her own right she understood the difference between exuberance and class. 
On Lanka she says, 'There was a lot of wealth but a little sign of culture; the luxury in the chamber was senseless, haphazard, and ill-fitting. The marble floor shone with brilliant polish and the sparkle of the chandelier irritated her.' 
She was the woman portrayed a vamp in Ramayan. The author here has given her another life in the book. 
The other characters are same as any version of Ramayan. But those closer to Shupranakha are given more importance such as Ravan, Kumbha, Vishravas etc. They are quite interesting to read about. 

Content 

Krishna recites the story of Shurpnakha to Trivarka, herself in older life. The story begins when a girl is born to Vishravas and Kaikesi. The father is delighted to welcome a girl into the family but mother hates her right from the beginning. Shurpnakha grows up to become a beautiful voluptuous woman but always doubting her self worth. She is constantly questioning the love her family possesses for her, her father especially. As a child, she develops a constant frown which seldom leaves her face while she lives with her family in the ashram. The boys are protective of her but she cannot help but doubt their love for her too. 
Shurpnakha grows up to feel lonely and inadequate. She is often reminded what an unwanted daughter her was. 
The story progresses same as Ramayan but this one is from Shurpnakha's point of view. She is often seen justifying her actions but they do not help in cleaning her image. A lustful woman as herself seeking unmindful revenge, she lands herself in trouble all the time.
There is also a confusion throughout the book. Ravan is a protective brother but he does not like his sister much, too. Kaikesi sometimes a sweet mother but often hates her daughter for no good reason. Vishravas loves his daughter but not more than his sons. No one can blame Shurpnakha for turning out the way she did. 
The story gives the losers a chance at explaining themselves. It should be read for this very reason. 

Language 

It is a simple modern-day narration. There is a lot of lust in the book which may not have been narrated very well. The characters were described well, which keeps one's interest in the book. 

Good points 

The cover page is a beautiful composition. The book is a great product design. The characters are interesting to read about. The story brings forward a different angle altogether. The story is fast paced. Language is simple to read. 

Bad points 

There is a lot of confusion throughout the book about who hates who and who love whom and when. 

Overall 

It was the first book of its kind that I have read and I am definitely picking more books by the author. This one should be read just for another perspective. 

Whom do I recommend this to 

This book is for those who like retellings from different perspectives. Those who may be interested in Ramayan will like this one too. 

Quotable quotes

The men needed their women, and often they did not know it.
There was no respect in death, no dignity for the fallen. There was no hero in battle, just corpses. Honour meant nothing once dead: honour was a merit for the living.
Words once spoken could not be redeemed, they were like inflicted wounds, the imminent scars lingering long.
I received this book from writersmelon for review. The opinions are my own, comlpetely uninfluenced.  

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com