08 October 2010

Chandrakanta - A childhood memory!!

“Chandrakanta ki kahani kabhi hogi na purani… purani ho kar bhi, ye lagti hai suhani”

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All those born in 80s with Doordarshan as the only source of TV entertainment cannot have missed ‘Chandrakanta’. The grand mega opus which fed the imagination & fantasies of the kids, excited to watch it every Sunday morning, discussing it later, and copying all those characters in your daily plays, and finally being shocked & hurt when the series went off air.. waiting for it to come back. I also heard that it came back on Cable TV later but by that time I had grown up & the storyline had gone lengthy & twisted.. I never knew why all this happened though… as children we have our favorite toys and things and somewhere they get left behind when we grow up.. But some day when we suddenly find them all the memories come rushing and you feel that you have found something so precious that you had lost long ago..

Chandrakanta - An eternal love story
That’s what I felt when I found the book ‘Chandrakanta’ in a book store in Chandigarh – ‘Capital Book Depot’ and that too a Hindi version.. An avid English reader, reading a Hindi book fascinated me as well as challenged me.. it had been a long time that I had read a proper Hindi book… probably after school and some short stories of Premchand about 4-5 years back.. But I knew I had to read Chandrakanta and find what happened in the story further. Was whatever they showed on TV actually as written in the book, if different how different, were the characters the same, did Karur Singh do ‘Yakoo’ in the book too, the bravery of the Ayaars, the mysteries of Tilisms, did the book have the same magic, that I felt while watching on TV.

Believe me or not the entire journey of 300 pages was just awesome.. the story & the characters, the magic & the plot, the twists & turns,.. made my imagination as lush & green as rains turn the Konkan region.. Unlike a magic or fantasy book it does not have a super hero or super powers giving magical stuff.. its about how cleverly & ethically the Aiyaars use their tricks to investigate the truth,  spy to end animosity between kings and win wars without a single fire shot.. Aiyaars a loyal breed of courageous, committed, ethical, clever, fast men/ women and serving their King rightfully is their Dharma & Karma

Devaki Nandan Khatri
It gives you a feeling of ‘Lord of the Rings’ kind of an epic but it lacks because its written in a regional language, infact not even polished Hindi but the local Hindi dialect of North East. But in some ways its better being a short, fast & a pacy read, live events & history, no references to some other book, foot notes or pre-historic events like in LOTR. Well it does bring Devaki Nandan Khatri in the league of JR Tolkein though..  There are real characters in fact even the Aiyaars also are as normal as us, may be a glorified version of ‘Spies who are Disguise Masters’ and it has almost all the elements of a story and fully balanced - love vs war, fiction vs reality, power lust vs courage, magic & mysticism vs loyalty & ethics.

While reading it I was trying to compare to the TV series of whatever I could remember. In fact except the main plot, the story was entirely different from the TV series. In the latter the main characters took a back seat and Raja Shivdutt, his Snake like powers, entry of multiple duplicates as twin brothers & sisters, rivalry of the Aiyyars took priority. Whereas in the book it stayed around Chandrakanta and Virendra Singh’s love story.. which somehow seemed apt & centric to the story.. Now I know why the TV series ended so abruptly with the family of the writer ‘Devkinandan Tripathi’ accusing the TV Producers of misrepresenting the book & the concepts of Aiyaars & Tilisms.

These points are debatable but I have enjoyed both the book & the series, for me it was two stories in name of one.. Probably TV series is more closer to me because of my childhood attachment to it but the book does more justice to the story & the author any day. We can only say to each to its own.. Each artist has its way of interpreting and depicting a story, but the sanctity of the author & the book should not be dishonored in the name of commercialization & TRPs.

Its not surprising at all that to believe that this book was so popular that people actually learned Hindi to read this book.. Most of my friends were surprised that I was reading a Hindi book, how can you read a story in Hindi, or who reads in Hindi.. But I believe a true book lover does not differentiate on basis of language, in fact a book should be read in its original language as much as possible, because a translation will only come if the original is popular and it can never do the justice or equate to the original.. Reading it as the author wrote it, makes you a part of his/ her journey through it..

Must Buy Chandrakanta (Hindi orEnglish)

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