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Easy mix of magic and love

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PAROMITA PAIN

Prince Virendra and Princess Chandrakanta are in love. But as we all know the path to true love is never simple.

This book may not catch your eye on shelves arrayed with the likes of Harry Potter and the Eragon types of magic. Deep, dark, powerful spells they hold you in such a thrall that you may find it difficult to reach out to this book with its rather archaic sounding name. Yet do hold on a moment before you turn away.

Spies and enemies

Chandrakanta isn’t a modern tale. It’s about kings, princes, with a twist of romance that has turns of magic so powerful and vast that even grown ups might get confounded. But do take time and turn the pages of this novel that changed the way Hindi was viewed as a language. Written many years ago by Devakinandan Khatri and recently translated for young readers by Deepa Agarwal, this is far removed from the kind of magic we are used to today.

The story as most stories go is easy enough.

Charmer of charmer’s Prince Virendra is in love with princess Chandrakanta. But warring parents, evil misters, gullible grown ups and of course ideas like the ‘tilism’ (a kind of magic maze with many twists and turns) and the ‘aiyaars’ (powerful magicians courted by kings and feared by enemies) don’t make their path to eternal bliss smooth. Ideas of good and evil are magically overturned and nothing is what it seems. Girls are as brave as boys and sometimes even better.

There are spies everywhere, enemies lurk in dark corners and illusion reings supreme. But at the end of it all just when you think the lovers will never unite things fall into place proving that in the darkest hour of need it’s friendship that saves the day. Here are many characters — in fact too many to keep track of.

That’s where Puffin’s clever style of laying out the story for young people comes to the fore. There are lists of characters that you can look up to jog your memory. Besides there are various interesting tidbits about the author that make him seem more than just a name. Devakinandan Khatri believed in fun and that’s what his novel is mostly about. You may take your time to get through it but it’s worth a read all the same.

CHANDRAKANTA by Devakinandan Khatri, translated by Deepa Agarwal, Puffin, Rs. 199


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