Vishal K. Dar reinterprets the Ramayana in his upcoming graphic novel
Really, it’s all about perception. For millions, Ramayana, the ancient Hindu scripture attributed to saint Valmiki, maybe a story of good versus evil, sacrifice, ethics and friendship but for Vishal K. Dar, it’s also the greatest tragic love story, never been told.
The architect-designer-artist Vishal is planning to tell this untold tale of love between Ram and Sita through the graphic Ramayana that Vishal has been working on for the past three and a half years.
“What attracts me to the Ramayan is that it’s an eternal love-story, and like others of its ilk, it too ends in tragedy,” says Vishal. The author feels, that after Sita’s abduction, the duo, Ram and Sita never have a life together. Vishal also views it as a story of wrong choices, flawed people. “There is a twist to my Ramayana. There is a dialogue between Ravana and Ravana’s wife Mandodari where she is asking him what could be the repercussions of his act,” adds Vishal who re-looks at several characters or rather contextualises them in today’s time. Mandodari, Kumbhakarana, Sugreeva’s brother’s Bali are a few of them.
The death of Bali is an important episode in his novel. “It is a turning point where Rama kills the Vanara Bali and throning Sugreeva as the ruler of Kishkindha and thus happens the first alliance between the vanar army and Rama. It reminds me of political moves made today,” says Vishal.
Taking off from the original Valmiki’s Ramayana which Vishal calls the “seed”, Vishal has looked at other versions of Tamil Kamba Ramayan, Tulsidas’ Ramacharitmanas and Bengali Ramayan — Krittivas Ramayan written by poet Krittivas for research.
He has briefly touched upon South East Asian countries’ version of Ramayana as well.
Vishal has merged the Amar Chitra Katha style with the popular Japanese Manga comics done in anime style.
Though abroad, graphic literature is a genre in itself, in India it has largely remained untouched. “I deliberately chose this genre because I feel it is an extension of Ramlila culture where everything is so visual. Like various versions of Ramayana, it will lead and then leave the reader to ponder,” says Vishal who was the co-produer, animator and visualiser of “About Ram” with puppeteer Anurupa RoySHAILAJA TRIPATHI TANEJA