Friday, August 24, 2007


‘Never judge a book by its cover’, very rightly they say. But even then covers do effect your opinions (at least they do mine).

A beautiful, sharp and colorful picture of a Kathakali dancer at the cover forced me to pick the book and I went through its prologue and back cover briefings. I have always loved Indian art and wanted to know more and more about it. Though a hint of a side by story, the prologue and short briefing suggested that this book was about Kathakali dance and Navarasas: the nine emotions and expressions i.e. Sringaaram (love), Haasyam (contempt), Karunam (sorrow), Raudram (fury), Veeram (valour), Bhayaanakam (fear), Beebhalsam (disgust), Adbhutam (wonder) & Shaantam (detachment) used essentially in every ancient Indian art or literature.

It took me 60 days and a reissuing visit to library (still I have to pay late charges, I fear) to complete this 426 pages book written by Anita Nair. Though the writing style of Anita Nair is very interesting, this was entirely my strong willingness to not to return this novel unread that I somehow completed one third of tedious novel.

The main character is Koman, an international famed Kathakali dancer who worked hard and sacrificed a lot in pursuit of this dance art. Story begins when a Chris comes from London to write a book on Koman but he may have a secret mission hidden inside. The story webs in the exotic surroundings of Kerala, where Chris stays at Shyam’s Near-The-Nila resort who is husband of Koman’s niece Radha. Chris and Radha fell in love, no no here I wanna correct, Chris and Radha fell to their lusts and Radha keeps dangling in her mind through the navarasas. There are many complexities in the novel, complexities of the relations of different people. Those relations sounds to be love affairs but according to me those were not.

Writer scrupulously did her research on Kathakali, the within stories related to ‘Katha’ of Kathakali made those pages in novel very interesting, so was the way of relating those episodes with the lives of Koman or Radha. It was only Koman’s story which kept me reading the book otherwise I think Chris or Radha and poor fellow Shyam were unnecessarily dragged in the story, so was the so called hidden mission of Chris which turned out to be almost nothing.

Finally, it was not only about the usual ‘Mistress’ we obviously jumps to (like dear R did) but it’s more about every true artist being the ‘Mistress’ of his/her artistry like Koman or his Aashaan (teacher) or a mad artist in a story. But again the complexity is that either Art is ‘Mistress’ or the Artist.


Alka said...

Why people glorify extra marital affairs? They bring peace to none.Why almost all artists have extramarital affairs as if inspiration comes from nothing but from other women/men.

Praney said...

LOL, it's adventurous may be, Alka, and Koman was never married till he was pretty old, but he do had three or four ladies in his life :)

And inspiration ......... have a point there.

Anonymous said...

" again the complexity is that either Art is ‘Mistress’ or the Artist" .Thoughtful line.

Anonymous said...

It took you 60 days!!! But it might took me more than that ;) :P

Prem Piyush said...

I have heard of Anita's Research on Kathakali for writing this book - she learnt the intricacies of dance forms too.

Thanks for giving the insight into the book.

Praney said...

Thanks Nony, Prem.