Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Immortals of Meluha

I had heard stories about the book and the author, Amish Tripathi. About how no publishing house would take his book and he released a free online copy of the first chapter. Actually what I heard was that he printed the first chapter and distributed it for free at bookstores which triggered curiosity and resulted in the massive success of the book. I thought, wow that was one big risk, but what a winning gamble it was!

So I borrowed the book, and as I write this only a few minutes have passed since I read the last word of “The Immortals of Meluha”, the first book in the Shiva Trilogy.

Where to begin? The cover. Which totally won me over. A muscular barebodied man with long dreadlocked hair, a deep cut on his left arm, a big scar on his right shoulder, a trishul behind his back, almost reaching up to his neck, looking out at a lake and a dense forest beyond. It immediately raises the mystery quotient.


The book begins with a 21 year old Shiva, the leader of a small tribe living in Mount Kailash, Tibet. Invited by the great nation of Meluha, he and his tribe migrated to the country which we had studied in our history books as the Indus Valley Civilisation. Yes, Harappa and Mohenjodaro and all that. But the invitation wasn’t purely for noble reasons. The Suryavanshis, the people of Meluha, had been waiting for a prediction to come true, waiting for a saviour who would come and squash their enemies and thus deliver them from evil. No surprises, Shiva was the hero, fulfilling requirements such as being a foreigner, and having a blue throat (which he developed after drinking the special drink called Somras which could greatly enhance one’s health and make a person almost immortal).

The first half was a bit boring, well obviously because Shiva was an outsider and everything had to be explained to him, what is what, who is who, why things are done in a particular fashion and all that. And it was a pretty frustrating read because Shiva was quite unwilling to accept the fact that he was the Neelkanth (blue throat), the Mahadev who would lift his people out of misery.

Then we have the Chandravanshis, the enemy of the Suryavanshis, who were suspected of aliasing themselves with the Nagas, the demon-like giants who were pure evil. A kidnap attempt of the Princess Sati by a Naga and his Chandravashi gang (which of course was foiled by Shiva), a terrorist attack by a group of Nagas (again thwarted by Shiva and other soldiers), the love dance between Shiva and Sati, well it wasn’t really bad.

It wasn’t long before Shiva accepted his destiny and toured the country as the Neelkanth, inspiring people and giving them hope. Convinced that the Chandravanshis were the cause of all evil, the king of Meluha declared a war and easily defeated them. Only to discover that the people were a different race, not evil, and had no ties at all with the Nagas. In fact, the Chandravanshis had been expecting their own saviour, “someone who is not from the Sapt-Sindhu and who has a blue throat”. The question of what is evil and what is good becomes a tough one to answer for Shiva.

Though the first half dragged a bit, the second part proved to be rather interesting. The battle scenes especially. And the part where Shiva rode up and down the line of soldiers shouting words of encouragement and egging his men to fight for their country and honour and all that, I couldn’t help but imagine scenes from movies where the brave general delivers a last minute speech to his soldiers (Think Brad Pitt in Troy “My brothers of the sword! I would rather fight beside you than any army of thousands! Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what's there, waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It's yours!”)

All in all, I would recommend you read this book. But… yes there is a but, if you are okay with a bloody hell lot of swearing by Shiva and the narration which sometimes leaves you cringe. Such as obvious Indianisms like the use of “marriage” instead of “wedding”, the phrase “any which way”, or the use of sentences such as “If anybody here has any objection to this meeting speak now or forever hold your peace” (Hello? Haven’t we heard this before? Oh yes in weddings!) and “I want this law scrapped”. Scrapped? And I spotted one spelling mistake. “Shiva nodded his ascent”.

Go read the book, by all means. Disappointed as I am with the language I will read the second book, The Secret of the Nagas, and the third, The Oath of the Vayuputras, which is slated for a late 2012 release.

By the way, Karan Johar is making The Immortals of Meluha into a film. Expect some mushy love scenes coming your way :P

14 comments:

  1. Miss Aduh, i inla-young tan emaw ka tia, ngatinge? :D

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  2. I've seen the cover before.. but I never really attempt to read the context because it's very vai. :-P

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  3. Avengers a hmuhnawm lutuk en ve rawh :)

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  4. TS - Lehkhabu chhuak thar chhiar tluka inlak young a awm dawn emi?

    Alejendro - Agreed it's vai, and that was one reason I didn't read it for a very long time, I would see copies wherever I go but was never much interested. But it just turns out a friend brought a copy to office and I borrowed it and that was that. Give it a try, it's not as very vai as you'd expect, think of it as a mythology/fantasy kind of novel.

    HV - Avengers ka en tawh, a hmuhnawm.

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  5. Eng mah hi ka chhiar peih vak lo. News paper hi ani tawh mai. Lehkha bu chhiar peih hi chi in ngaihsan awm khawp mai. Fin pawh in fing deuh chawk ang.

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    1. Lehkhabu chhiar ka thatchhe sawt lutuk hi tan ka'n la thar leh deuh mawle, mi te anga fin kan duh ve si a.

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  6. Sounds like a book written with one eye on a celluloid version.

    I read a lot of Indian writers, and a very impressive lot they are too - mostly, but I just can't stand Indianisms and other variations of mainstream English. Like this book I picked up a couple of years ago in Cal. The blurb said it was a national bestseller and I assumed it to be a Chetan Bhagat genre type so I thought it would make for an entertaining read. But later when I actually got down to reading it, right on the first page, paragraph 4 or something, I came across, "Hundred times you have told me you love me...." Ooops, I shut the book and never attempted reading it again.

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    1. That was what I thought too, probably the author was hoping for a movie deal. Nothing wrong with that, in fact it would make a great movie. And I personally think most of Dan Brown's books are written with the same intention.

      I do not read many Indian authors, and now every corner you turn there is a new "bestselling" Indian author. Maybe I ought to pick up a few.

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  7. "The immortals of meihawl", tih in kan chhiar palh chu :)

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  8. A colleague once tried to convince me to read it, and he even gave me a soft of it. It must still be lying somewhere in my computer.

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    1. Maybe you should wait for the K Jo movie instead!

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  9. have read this a while back. Niaaa, one of the things I noticed was the back and fro usage of modern and mock-archaic language :D An interesting read, though, I would so read the next two in the series

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    1. I would give him an A for effort, B for the story and C for the writing. But yes I would still read the other two books, yeah I'm a hypocrite.

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