Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dharmaraja of C.V. Raman Pillai

After a gap of sixteen years, I re-read C.V. Raman Pillai's Dharmaraja and was amazed to see that my mother tongue can be used so successfully to give shape to legendary works like this. I admit that many words in the novel went above my head. It would also have been difficult to follow the work completely without the help of those endnotes provided for each chapter (Many thanks to DC Books to bring out a reprint of this book with a scholarly guide attached to each chapter). Dharmaraja was the text book for Malayalam Second Paper in Class X in the year 1991-92.

On one hand C.V. extensively quotes from the important literary works that laid foundation to Malayalam literature: from Kalidasa's Abhijnana Sakunthalam to Unnayi Warriers' Nalacharitam and Kathakali poems (Attakkatha) written by various Kings of Travancore, the list is really long. Such quotes appear at the beginning of each chapter, giving a glimpse of events narrated in the chapter and setting the mood for the drama that is about to unfold. Even within the text, single line quotes from classic texts perplex a naïve reader if not with the help of a study guide. On the other, C. V. uses cultural and religious concepts and smilies of cultural practices throughout the novel. How many Malayalis know what Pathamudayam is, or what cultural practice was associated with this day? But see how Ummini Pillai uses it to make a false allegation about Kesava Pillai that the latter seduced and brought an unmarried lady to his house showing least respect to the custom.

Shall come back to you later with more on Dharmaraja.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you studied the cultural and political role of C.V to librerate the marginalised