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Today, I will be showcasing a current household favourite by writer and blogger, Saraswati.
V and I were voracious readers, growing up and I am glad to see that Gy seems to be picking up the reading habit too. Currently, she is captivated by stories of Indian mythology and keeping this in mind, V took her to a bookstore to pick out books for her last birthday.
It was then that they chanced upon Draupadi: The Fire-Born Princess, a graphic novel written by Saraswati Nagpal and illustrated by Manu.
Although the story of the Mahabharata is a familiar one, what makes this book different is the perspective. It is narrated in the first person and through the eyes of the protagonist, Draupadi.
In a very unique manner, the writer uses the non-linear narrative approach. She begins the story at the end of the tale, with Draupadi walking towards her mortal end. As she looks up and sees her husbands ahead of her, her mind flashes back to the time that she was a princess, her courtship, her life as a queen, the humiliation at the hands of a monster, the agony of exile, the poignant strength she exhibited in the war and the way she dealt with each and every one of those roles.
How does she react to all of the above? With revenge? With compassion? With subdued defiance?
That is what the book covers with fluidity and ease.
Draupadi is depicted as a dark, peerless beauty and that is one of my favourite things about the book. There is, sadly, an obsession with fairness of skin and its equation to beauty in the current, media-controlled scenario. To see a woman be glorified for her strength of character and her humanity is far more beautiful, in my opinion, than the transient physical beauty we can view.
What makes the book stand out:
- The first page has a simple, yet attractive family tree which traces the lineage of the Kuru clan from Manu, the progenitor till Pareekshit. My daughter knows the relationships between the characters exceedingly well, thanks to this feature.
- The book has an appeal that cuts across age barriers. If my seven-year-old daughter is drawn to the book, I wouldn’t say that holds much credence. But, when my husband and my mother-in-law also picked up the book and couldn’t put it down, I knew this one was a winner.
- Its comic-book format is a huge plus when it comes to introducing your child to reading Mythology. My daughter started out with the Amar Chitra Katha series and progressed to this one seamlessly.
- The illustration is bewitchingly beautiful and does complete justice to the gripping narration. Nuanced strokes and bold, sharp lines bring out the fire and passion that embody Draupadi’s nature. Manu is an illustrator to look out for, in the coming years.
A more detailed review of Draupadi can be found at this link.
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