Monday, 15 August 2016

The Mahabharata Code - Karthik K B Rao

An intelligent tweak to the ever popular Indian epic.

Looking at Indian fiction shelves, the mythological genre has never been more popular. No wonder then there is an upsurge of books exploring the famous Mahabharata epic from various angles. A lover of the genre, I feel however, Mahabharata and Ramayana have been explored too much to my liking. 

Therefore my initial reaction to this one: Gosh, not another one!" But you couldn't deny that the premise was intriguing. A past-present concept coupled with a bit of science fiction with a sprinking of truth distilled from the Geeta. was compelling enough to apply for a review copy on the Book Blog tour. 

Narayana Rao, a NASA scientist goes on the Mars with his team after they receive mysterious signals. He ends up participating in the reenacting of the Mahabharata with Vyas as the mastermind. His son is groomed to be Krishna and then events unfold where technology and manipulation force Narayana Rao to question his beliefs and his mind.

What works:
  • The concept. Rao uses technology and contemporary language to present his version of Mahabharata. The style is fluid and smooth and his version of the events in the epic work.
  • The language. I read a review saying that the language was far too informal. But for me, that was the USP. It drew me into the story and empathise with Rao as he explains the dilemma of  growing up in a different country, yet rooted in Indian mythology and ethos.
  • It is very easy to identify with the character as he talks about the lifestyle and mindset indicative of today's generation. It has shades of humour, yet is philosophical in nature.  
  • Also, it is noteworthy, how Rao uses technology explain mystical events. It is bizarre and preposterous but Rao makes it work with language and compelling narrative.
  • My favourite was the exchange between Shristi and Narayana Rao. The conversation about materialism and its value was very well done. Also, The distilled truth from the Gita is presented so well and in a matter of fact style here.
What doesn't:
  • Nothing really. The fact that the author managed to convey the essence of heavy dose scripture in such a simple, effective format is quite impressive for a debut author. Obviously the subject is close to his heart; it reflects in the book too. 

Overall, The Mahabharata Code is lighthearted and entertaining at one level. At another, it makes you think and re-read chapters and ponder over it.

For me, that is a good package and a cracking read.

Recommended for anyone  who appreciates good writing, self deprecating humour and a good story.