The Ramayana series is an epic retold by Ashok Banker, one of the few Indian authors I have come to admire. Fellow Indians of my generation had their first proper glimpse of Ramayana in the TV series telecasted by Doordarshan in the early 80s/90s, and I like them, thought I knew all that had to be known about it.
When I first heard about the rave reviews on Banker’s retelling, I tended to ignore it as hype, as I had already seen and read a lot about Ramayana, with it being such an integral part of Hindu Indian culture, and wondered why should I read something I already know so much about.
But one night, I just picked up the first part (Prince of Ayodhya), and started reading. Within an hour, I was gripped. I found it wasn’t the typical Ramayana retelling one gets to read, which tends to be overwhelmingly colored in a religious tone. I found it to be more in the fantasy genre, and having read LOTR only a few months back, I found it way more exciting compared to LOTR, with a much larger scope and a much bigger and more interesting collection of magical creatures and powers.
A couple of months, and five more volumes (Siege of Mithila, Demons of Chitrakut, Armies of Hanuman, Bridge of Rama, King of Ayodhya) later, I found myself with a much richer knowledge of Ramayana. The author did use his artistic liberties occasionally, but it didn’t alter the fabric of the story in any way, only made it a much more enjoyable read.
I heartily recommend this epic series to anyone and everyone. And I recommend my fellow Indians who already know so much about Ramayana, to cast apart their apprehensions, and just take this as a highly enjoyable read.