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M views : Review of "SITA"

17 Feb

by Campfire graphic novels
Author: Saraswati Nagpal
Artist: Manikandan

Review by Manks

The first thing that catches your eye when you pick up Sita is the cover. If I am not wrong then the artist has rendered Sita in the image of Aishwarya Rai. As choices go, basing the protagonist on Aishwarya Rai is not bad at all, especially considering she essayed the same role in Mani Ratnam’s movie Ravan and the fact that she is arguably one of the most beautiful women on the planet.

As far as stories go, if you are aware of Indian Epic Ramayana then there are little surprises in store for you and the good part is, the author is aware of this. She is just intent on telling the story of Sita and has not bothered to expand on ancilliary tales. If you do not know your Ramayana Lore ( seriously? You don’t?) then this graphic novel works as an excellent appetizer to introduce you to the Indian mythology, but you would be left with a feeling of having missed something.

For example, we suddenly meet Rama and Lakshman at Sita’s swayamvar. No explanation is given on the backdrop or Rama’s history. This entire graphic novel is Sita’s story and from her point of view. This kind of story would have been risky as the author is leaving out some crucial bits , however the author manages to capture our attention and infuse charm into the story because she writes from Sita’s perspective. This entire graphic novel is being narrated by Sita, so we are witness to her innermost feelings and reactions on various events such as meeting Ram, on being captured , on seeing Rama’s severed head , on being rejected by Ram etc.
Narrating the story through Sita’s mouth, the author gives a new dimension to the age old tale. If you are a mythology enthusiast, you would also find small nuggets here and there.

The flip side of narrating story through Sita’s character is that we miss out on a lot of action – the famed stone bridge, the ensuing war between Ram’s and Ravan’s forces and the inevitable clash of the titans. We know, see and hear what Sita does. Which depending on which side you sit, may entice or dissuade you from reading this book. I for one liked it. The story seemed fresh to me because it showed me the events of Ramayan from a different point of view. I felt sita’s exasperations and fears on being kept hostage and went through the pain of separation with Ram with her. Good stuff!

I also found the story to be a little rushed. This story needed some more pages to truly breathe and I fear it’s more the format than the author to blame.

The art here is superlative. Is it me or are Indian artists getting really really good at it! The splash pages are amazing , art is clear and the colors are absolutely to die for. Sita is graceful, Ram is divine, Ravan is strong.. This is as close to an international product as I have seen.  I am truly impressed by the art here.

In conclusion, this is a fine mythological tale which manages to find a unique voice among the myriad mythological tales, but this is definitely not for everyone. Give it a shot! You might be surprised.