The story of Shakuntala is well known—her upbringing in the ashram, her meeting with Dushyant, their marriage and subsequent separation due to a curse and their final joyous reunion. What is not so well known, however, is that the gentle, lovelorn Shakuntala immortalized by Kalidasa is very different from the original Shakuntala of the Mahabharata—a strong, fiery woman who stood up for her rights when she was spurned by her beloved.
In this thoughtful retelling of the story of Shakuntala, Utkarsh Patel brings to the fore the original heroine, the bold and beautiful daughter of Menaka and Vishwamitra who fights to get herself and her son the recognition they deserve. She does not surrender to anyone, not even the king of Hastinapur. Retold to suit the modern-day context, Shakuntala: The Woman Wronged is a must-read to understand one of the most powerful yet underrated female characters of the Mahabharata.
Mythological fictions are at its peak these days. Most of them concentrates around Shiv, Vishnu, Ramayana, Mahabharata. Shakuntala’s story is a piece of pastry from the big cake of Mahabharata. The book is the gift to the readers who are not satisfied with the Kalidasa version of Shakuntala’s tale, which renders that the curse of Rishi Durvasav is a reality and that Dushyant did forget about Shakuntala, the poor, helpless, inable girl. Utkarsh Patel tells us that no, Shakunthala is not an ‘abala nari’. She is a fiery, headstrong, powerful, intelligent woman who stood for her rights.
From the beginning of the story, we can see a signature of the author. Instead of blindly reproducing the story from Mahabharata, author made those changes which made the book more conceivable. I liked the fact that he retained Anasuya and Priyamvada from Kalidasa’s version of Shakuntalam.
The arguement between Sage Kanva and Shakuntala on the curse of Ahalya provides a new light on the centuries old legend. The way author tried to put forth a forgotten or ignored fact is exemplary.This and many other arguments of Shakuntala will leave the readers wanting more and more. Menaka’s character proves that being a human, apsara or god doesn’t classify someone in the distinction of motherhood.
Great care has been taken in the character craft. The book cover is quite appealing and in tune with the story.
One of the man issues I had was with the type setting. In many chapters, the dialogues are all clubbed into a single paragraph, which confuses the reader as to who is speaking to whom. Dushyant’s hunting spree’could have been cut short into a single chapter.
A mythological fiction with a contemporary relevance.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a complimentary copy in exchange for a honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
About the author
Utkarsh has qualifications in Mythology, both Indian and World from Mumbai University. He is also a faculty on the subject of Comparative Mythology, at the Mumbai University, India. Utkarsh is also a regular trainer and lecturer on varying subjects at private organisations and educational institutions.
Utkarsh has more than 2 decades of experience in Sales and Business Development of IT products and solutions. He has worked with some of the well known IT organisations, some being start-ups, in India. Utkarsh is also a regular trainer and lecturer on varying subjects at private organisations and educational institutions.
Besides his Blog he is also a content provider to a few portals on similar subjects. Some of his short stories have been published in the well known literary story Blog, called LITIZEN.