Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
I believe that’s largely subjective, if I may say so.
Though both authors write about fantastical worlds, there is a marked difference in their works. When Tolkien writes about mythical creatures like elves and dwarves and hobbits, Amish’s fantasy world is one which has characters lifted directly off some of India’s greatest epics and other stories of Hindu Gods. And that is the kind of stuff most Indians grow up listening to. Religious stories form a part of the growing up process for most Indian kids. So for people like us who have all grown up listening to stories of Ram and Shiva with a certain amount of reverence, Amish’s fresh take on the subject is one that is both fascinating and thrilling.
I am a big fan of Amish’s Meluha trilogy. Lord Shiva is the Hindu deity that I am closest to…right from my early childhood. One of the reasons why I love Lord Shiva is because He is depicted as a very real person…a hermit…a brooding recluse. So I had always considered the object of my devotion to be somebody I could have a heart-to-heart conversation with. So when Amish’s first book ‘The Immortals of Meluha’ was announced, the cover image itself took my breath away…
It felt more like that song from Savage Garden… ‘I knew I loved you before I read you…I think I dreamed you into life’. Yup, that is exactly what was going on in my mind. A book about Lord Shiva that talks about the very concept that I love Him for. I couldn’t have asked for more. And when the books arrived one after the other, along with everyone who read them, I too became a forever fan. And I haven’t been able to stop thinking of Lord Shiva and His family in the way he described them.
Religion is a very touchy subject in India. It requires a great deal of care and precision to be able to write something like what Amish did without exactly hurting any religious sentiments of Indians. He did it with elan and what a masterpiece he created! The man’s truly blessed by the Almighty.
I am yet to read his new trilogy based on the Ramayana. The thing is, I am personally kinda touchy when it comes to the Ramayana.
To me, it is a very pure pristine story. I don’t think I’d be able to stomach any inspired stories with the main storyline of the epic altered. There’s nothing wrong in it, really. But I am still not ready to accept anything of the sort. I have read several inspired works based on the Mahabharata. But till date, I have read just one book based on the Ramayana and that was about Sita’s sister Urmila. I read it because she is a character who I deeply admire and yet don’t know any back stories about. The book I read, again, did not waver much from the basic storyline. So it was okay. But knowing Amish’s writing style, I don’t want my idea about Lord Ram and Devi Sita to be altered in any way.
At least not yet. Maybe I would read it at a later point of time when I’m more emotionally ready. Right now, my mind’s saying ‘Stay away!’
End verdict…Amish Tripathi is awesome! But you’ll be appreciate his masterclass even more if you know the actual stories that he has woven his books around. His prowess as an author comes into full force only then ^_^ Indeed, ‘Amish is India’s Tolkien’! 🙂