An voluptuously attractive woman dancing her way from cloud to Earth to seduce a man deep in meditation is the image which usually comes to our mind when we think about Apsara. Their fathomless beauty is difficult to portray. Still they are considered nothing more than a seductress. Often example of Menaka and Vishwamitra is given when men deviate from their goals due to women. Author Kavita Kane has tried and I must say tried successfully to break this image of Apsaras in her latest book Menaka’s Choice.
Menaka’s Choice by Kavita Kane is not just the story about Menaka but it covers the life of an apsara in general. Their dilemmas when they fall in love with their prey, helplessness when they can’t have a life of their own, agony when mistreated and harassed, jealousy when seeing other with partner of choice, desire to have a family, inability to say no to Lord Indra, guilt to abandon their offspring and many. Kavita has indeed got into the skin of Apsara and very beautifully portrait their inner turmoil of being used by others. They could rule over a man’s heart but can never have a home whose rein are in their hands. In other words can be mistress but not a wife.
The author description of heaven is outstanding. Much better than what we see in television. Words have more power to weave a vision than animation. And poor Lord Indra. This one character’s portrayal never changes. Maybe some day any author will try to break his image as well and we will get to read about a completely different Indra.
Menaka is witty and spirited woman who is a perfect combination of beauty with brains. Someone with whom anyone can fall in love. Whereas Vishwamitra is an angry man of the book much like Amitabh Bachchan used to be called. The chemistry between both was marvellous to read.
By seeing the sensuous jacket of the book and the book on a apsara one could easily think it to be an erotic novel. But there is nothing like that. There is a thin line difference between sexuality and sensuality and Kavita has managed to maintain it. There is not a single love making scene in the book. But sensuous build up which served the purpose. Literally, Kavita didn’t wasted words and pages on describing intimate scenes instead concentrated on the feelings, sentiments and emotions of the characters at the given point. And it came out beautifully each time.
The story of Vishwamitra also goes parallel with the Menaka’s story along with other supporting stories. She indeed does intensive research and doesn’t miss out any chance to write sub-stories. There are many such stories including that of Shakuntala which is different from the one which is popularly known. Why the author tweaked Shakuntala’sis not clear.
The way in which Menaka and Vishwamitra meet each other is very fascinating and truly bollywood style. The author didn’t use the stereotypical version of Menaka coming from clouds and dancing around Vishwamitra to distract him from his meditation. Instead, Kavita’s Menaka is bathing under a fountain and singing which attracts Vishwamitra. The entire scene comes out so filmy which could be seen in any Raj Kapoor film.
The book has a perfect balance of both narrative and dialogues. Infact both compliment each other and thus makes the book enthralling and engrossing. The way Menaka always outwits Indra is particularly interesting to read.
The author through the book has send across a very strong message that it is wrong to look upon woman as the one who deviate man from his karma. Infact she could show man the right path and encourage him to achieve higher goals in life. It is up to the man whether he wants to move or not.
We make love and leave. That is our motto. Live by it, Menaka or you shall suffer untold, unnecessary grief.
Born during the churning of the ocean, Menaka is the most beautiful of all the apsaras in the world, with quick intelligence and innate talent. However, she craves for the one thing she can never have – family. Elsewhere, after severe austerities, a man, now blessed with the name Vishwamitra, challenges the gods and dares to create another heaven. Fearing his growing powers, Indra, the king of gods, decides to put a stop to his ambitions by making Menaka seduce him.
What will happen when Menaka and Vishwamitra meet each other? Will Menaka finally find what she really wished for? Or will she again be forced to surrender to her destiny? Find out in this fascinating portrait of one of the most enduring mythological figures.