Iravati Urvashi Dholakia , an evil queen wants the dagger to rule the whole world and conquers Vijaygarh. Iravati emotionally blackmails Veer that she is suffering from the effects of black magic performed on her by a girl with a dagger mark on her body. He goes to Suryagarh and initially, pretends to be a lover of Chandrakanta in order to take revenge but as time goes by, starts loving her. Veer and Chandrakanta start loving each other. In the end, Queen Iravati succeeds in separating Veer and Chandrakanta.
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Just wow. For a lover of epic fantasy, spell-binding magic, swashbuckling adventure and flawless narrative, I am appalled that this adaptation has been gathering dust on my bookshelf for such a long time. The original tale has many feathers in its royal turban: 1 Chandrakanta is considered to be the first authentic work of Hindi prose in the Adhunik Kaal modern period. People were so enchanted with the twists and turns in this nail-biting fantasy that it contributed to the learning of Hindi and the Devnagari script just so that could read and soak in these stories.
What elevates the story to another level is the introduction of concepts like Aiyaars and Aiyaaris people adept in the arts of disguise, trickery, espionage, knowledge of herbs, use of arms, dance and music who were employed by the rulers in ancient times to further their causes and the delicious and scary promise of a tilism devious mazes that contained traps, secret passages, prisons, magical voodoo and maybe scientific wonders too that had to be deciphered by the right person to yield the treasures within.
But ah, it picks it up. And how. The characters are few but rich in their profiles. Their interactions are laced with humour, snark and insolence. The melodrama has been gracefully tamed down in this adaptation by Deepa Agarwal and the story moves at an engaging pace.
Almost every page is fraught with mystery, magic, deceit, betrayal and unexpected events. There is never a dull moment and when there is one, you know that all you need to do is turn a leaf and voila!
Yet another aspect that I adored about this book was that the females were feisty. Yes, Chandrakantha originally comes across as a lovestruck dolt but her character arc.
Her constant companion and a powerful Aiyaara herself, Chapla was such a trail blazer. The tale is a traditional, magical story. Maybe it lacks the depth of more nuanced fantasy novels. Maybe it was a bit too pat for people who want their characters with backstories. Maybe the more cynical amongst you would mock the simplicity of its plot progression. Scoff away. But at the heart of it all, remains the singular fact that the author wrote a book not with the aim to teach, patronize, educate, moralize or ignite patriotic fervour in the people.
All he wanted was that his readers should enjoy his books. And boy, he did that with style.
चंद्रकांता (Chandrakanta #1)
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