Chitralekha

After “Teen Varsha“, this was the novel I have read of Bhagwaticharan Varma. The idea of the theme chosen for novel appealed to me.

The novel is set-up in the ancient India of the time of Chandragupta Maurya. Woven with other threads, the main one for the novel is the story of two students of Rishi Ratnambhara, who want to find out what the Pap (Sin) is. The rishi says that he can not give them the answer, since he has himself not been able to decide on this issue. Instead, they should go out in the world and find out for themselves as to what it is. He, then, leaves each one of them with one of his former students. One was left with a Samant, who lived the life of luxury. The other one was left with a Yogi, who thought that the real pleasure is in Viraga (having no affinity for worldly objects). Then, the novel moves around what they see in next one year and how the lives of the two people they had been left with interact with each other’s. The heroine, Chitralekha, plays a crucial role in taking the story forward and hence the name of the novel, I guess. At the end of it, the two have different (opposite) notions of who the Papi (sinner) was.

The idea was to show that our judgement of right and wrong is derived from the context and circumstances we have been put into. The idea, as I said, appeals to me. However, there is a crucial failure in the novel. The novel would have made its point only if at the end the reader was left in a state of indecision regarding the right answer. That does not happen. The way the story has proceeded, the reader is clearly biased in favour of one of the characters and against the other. So, despite having taken up a nice theme and woven an interesting story around it, I think the novel fails at very critical aspect.

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About Jaya

Jaya Jha is an entrepreneur, a techie, a writer and a poet. She was born and brought up in various towns of Bihar and Jharkhand. A graduate of IIT Kanpur and IIM Lucknow, she realized early on that the corporate world was not her cup of tea. In 2008, she started Pothi.com, one of the first print-on-demand publishing platform in India. She currently lives in Bangalore and divides her time between writing and working on her company's latest product InstaScribe (http://instascribe.com) with a vision to make it the best e-book creation tool. Blog: https://jayajha.wordpress.com Twitter: @jayajha Facebook: http://facebook.com/MovingOnTheBook

5 thoughts on “Chitralekha

  1. Have you seen the Hindi film of the 1960s based on this novel (also titled ‘Chitralekha’)? Starring Vyjayanthimala and Ashok Kumar, it’s a nice film. But as you’ve said, the decisiveness at the end of the film (and novel) distracts from its otherwise good story.

    The highlight of the film are its lyrics, written brilliantly by Sahir Ludhianvi, and the music composed by Roshan. One of the songs is about Vyjayanthimala’s argument deriding the overriding tendency towards renunciation:

    ‘sansaar se bhaagate phirate ho
    bhagavaan ko tum kyaa paaoge?’

    And then again:
    ‘ye bhog bhii ek tapasyaa hai
    tum tyaag ke maare kyaa jaano?
    apamaan rachayitaa ka hogaa
    rachanaa ko agar Thukaraaoge…’

    It also has the song: ‘man re, tuu kaahe na dhiir dhare’ sung by Mohd. Rafi.
    You can find the lyrics to the songs in the film at: http://www.panchamonline.com/gaane/search.asp?browse=keywords&s=chitralekha&submit=search

  2. Oops! I meant Meena Kumari in the above comment, and not Vyjayanthimala. Somehow I confused another film (‘Amrapali’) with ‘Chitralekha’.

  3. “The highlight of the film are its lyrics, written brilliantly by Sahir Ludhianvi, and the music composed by Roshan. One of the songs is about Vyjayanthimala’s argument deriding the overriding tendency towards renunciation:

    ’sansaar se bhaagate phirate ho
    bhagavaan ko tum kyaa paaoge?’”

    I too am entranced by this poetry and the philosophy behind it which is so profound. The etrange between reason and logic, between religion and tradition. Simply put the movie is remarkable piece of work.

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