There is the concept of the storyteller in the Indian tradition, also known as the sutradhar. The one who holds the thread, that's what it means. Of storytelling, of plots, of history and of the present and the future. One must not underestimate the ability of a storyteller. There is more to them than what meets the eye. This is what Amruta Patil tries and brings about amongst many things in her latest offering, "Adi Parva".
"Adi Parva" is Book 1 of the Mahabharata. It is how the epic came to be, which is narrated by Sauti (traditionally) to the rishis after the Sarpasatra (killing of the snakes) of Janamejaya (a direct descendant of the Pandavs). The first volume starts with how the Mahabharata came to be and ends with the birth of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The Mahabharata as a tale is known to all. Its popularity cannot be contested. Many forms have been given to it in stories and different perspectives as well. This one however is told in the form of a graphic novel and Amruta Patil uses her craft stupendously. To take a mythological tale and to present it differently is challenging enough, however to keep balancing it between the present and the past is more difficult, which Amruta has successfully managed.
The book took me in its charm right from page one. The illustrations are breathtaking no doubt, however what is also very charming about the book is the way the tale has been narrated. There are intervals - almost parallel narratives - from the sutradhar to the story itself. The title in itself is unique: "Adi Parva: Churning of the Ocean" via Amruta Patil. It is as though the author in herself is the sutradhar (which is of course another way of looking at it). The drawings will definitely make me want to reread the book.
The illustrations are breathtaking no doubt, however what is also very charming about the book is the way the tale has been narrated.
There are various themes running through the entire story - of feminism (underline however it is there), rivalry, the context of times gone by and the current times, of the different ages and how men and their nature changes and more so the idea of storytelling. The beauty and grace given to a story of war (it is not only that) can only come through an illustrator such as Patil. She breathes life into the story with her graphics, her imagery and her perspective. I waited long enough for Kari's sequel; however this was just what I needed instead of that. I know for sure that I will be eagerly waiting for the other installments in this series. The way it would unfurl - we all know that - however to see it from Patil's point of view and through her illustrations, will be a different experience altogether.
Title: Adi Parva: Churning of the Ocean via Amruta Patil; Author: Amruta Patil; Publisher: Harper Collins India; Genre: Graphic Fiction, Mythology; Pages: 272; Rating: 5/5