We’ve all been reading the story of Rama and there are quite a few of the tales from his life that are already known to us. Ravi Venu, however, decided to tell us the same story balancing a glass of a heady dose of Vodka in one hand and a glass of Rooh Afza in the other… and so his version of the story pierces through sci-fi from Hollywood and then comes zipping in to splash into a Bollywood mythological drama! I loved reading the way he has written about the period until Rama is sent into exile by Queen Kaikeyi… but strangely missed the charm that all other versions of this epic had in them, including the absolutely mesmerizing rendition in school books and even in Amar Chitra Katha comics.

Let me begin with the language and the way philosophy is dealt with. When a heady language with sensual phrases thrown in to cavort with the damsels from heaven gets enmeshed with the well-known tales from the Ramayana, one can expect resistance from a lot of quarters. Even I mumbled: ‘Is it really essential to convert the story of Rama into a science fiction fantasy?’ But as I read on, I realised that the basic tenets of the story-line remain unchanged except that if I were to read this before I read the conventional versions, I’d find the real story rather staid and old-fashioned! We see the typically Indian perspective in metaphysics being woven into sensuality and it certainly provides a lot of surprising interludes:

I opened my eyes to see the raindrops balancing on the tip of fresh green leaves; they would swell and fall to meet their destiny on this ground. 


Rishi smiled, ‘Young prince Lakshman, we are all a part of a cosmic dance. We are mere puppets in His show. The ritual was just a tool to get the universal super power to manifest in a human. So young prince, let me complete the story till you were born.’

Even the Gods and other residents of their kingdom appear rather helpless at times. The war between the immortals – the demons and the Gods seems to be taking place on Earth in the story and the author is distinctly influenced by all the modern day sci-fi jargon and uses terminology that includes ‘portal’ and a lot of concepts from physics and astro-physics. All this may give the conventional reader of this mythological tale a bit of a strange distanced feeling of non-understanding but even such readers would surely smile at this liberal indulgence!

She did tell the truth, but sad news was, she was not going to be able to return for the next few seasons, until the portal opened up again.


The world ahead must not have these demons. Also, the humans in the coming times are to lose knowledge that is known to the sages of today. They will have no weapon against these demons, with just a few who would then believe in His faith and His power. The existing demons then will control Earth from several galaxies away.

Even Modern Gypsy, a reviewer agrees to such a point of view and writes: ‘According to him, the seers and sages who roamed the planet at the time were actually supernatural beings who came to earth through time portals, using earth to exert control over many astral planes. Which is the reason why, we are led to believe, celestials (good forces) and demons (negative forces) fought to gain control over earth. But while the celestials use their positive energy to foster humans, demons just want to gain supremacy over earth and feast on humans! All developments in art and science were also apparently brought to humans by these supernatural celestials. Total suspension of belief required to read this, if you ask me.’

‘Is it essential,’ I asked a friend, ‘to remain authentic to a mythological story while re-writing it?’

‘Not really,’ he answered, ‘we hear so many musical remixes and accept them as creative outlets that influence the original with new sensibilities, don’t we?’

‘Ah!’ I said, ‘so I can call this book by Ravi Venu a remix!’

Well, I personally don’t like remixes in music as I find them rather devoid of the charming lilt that the original rendition always had… but in the case of this book, who really knows what the original rendition actually sounded like? We all form our opinions based on what we’ve heard or have been reading… or even watching on the celluloid screen. It appears that the writer suddenly decided to pick up the story of Rama to place it like a filling into sheets of filo dough to give us some sci-fi pastry… not many would prefer such stuff! The idea is creative enough but the execution is not intelligent. It is, at best puerile, filled with grammatical howlers, and doesn’t include all important facts that the actual tale had (For instance, the complete black-out of Sage Vishvamitra from the Swyamvara of Sita is unpardonable, as the story takes its direction from here. Though some may point out that in this tale, Venu has privileged Kaikeyi with pushing Rama towards immortality!). This one seems to hop on a sci-fi thermal and soar up only to come zooming down at the slightest pretext.

What do I think of the book? Well, I loved it despite the flaws pointed out because I love to let my imagination fly untethered… and Venu has done the same with the narrative here. Another reason I loved this book was because I was absolutely tickled with his mock research into celestial weapons and re-read that small chapter of around five pages just to understand how Ramanand Sagar must’ve conceived his fight scenes in his TV serial on this epic.

The book has one important message embedded in it. It tells us finally that humans are good or evil not because they are good or evil but because they are just acting out their parts according to the celestial script given to them. Even Rama tells Bharat: ‘A small request to you; do not delve into the actions of the past you may have done to your mother, Bharat… but be assured that Mother Kaikeyi knew this as she did it; she loved you and held no ill-bearing ever.’ Thus Rama implied that we are all acting out our own scripts and Kaikeyi also happened to know that this was so. Therefore, there is reason for ill-will towards anyone. Well, I loved this implied message… you too would once you read this book.

'I, Rama_Age of Seers' -- a review.

‘I, Rama_Age of Seers’ — a review.

Book details:
Title: I, Rama… Age of Seers
Author: Ravi Venu
Publisher: Cratus Media Group
ISBN: 978-0615582504
Price in 2012: Rs 225/- 

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Arvind Passey
16 July 2012