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Mandu : A perfect retelling of the legend of Baz Bahadur and Roopmati

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

Set in 16th Century India, Mandu tells the romantic story of last Sultanate of Malwa, Baz Bahadur and a beautiful and talented peasant woman, Roopmati, that buds with the shared inclination towards classical music and poetry.

Baz was a man who put art over everything. On one of his hunting tours, his ears fall on the melodic sound, and he finds a girl singing on the banks of Narmada, Roopmati. True to her name, she was the most beautiful woman Baz had ever seen. He immediately falls in love with her beauty and talent.

Baz expresses his wish to make Roopmati his musician, and a companion to share his art. Roopmati agrees to go with Sultan on a condition. Sultan, being a man of his words, fulfils it. A few days pass, and both of them get obsessed with each other. Entangled in given words, they find it difficult to express their feelings to each other. But it comes to the notice of Sultana of Mandu, Hiba and her mother Jana Begum. Looking at her helpless and heartbroken daughter, Jana starts plotting against Roopmati. Parallelly, the flame of resentment and revenge lit in the court of Akbar. It leads to their attack on Malwa. Will Baz save his capital Mandu and his lover Roopmati?

My take:

Firstly, this is my first ever historical re-telling read. So, with no expectations at all, I started reading this and oh my! This book was so beautiful. I had no idea about this tragic legend of Sultan and Roopmati, and the author left no stone unturned to bring this saga to life again via her re-telling.

This book not only explores the story of Roopmati and Baz but also so many other past events along with the description of royal cultures, Hindustani Music, different forms of art and human emotions. The narration is perfect, and honestly, the book was a page-turner for me. I love the way Ramachandran, the author put forward the unfiltered saga of love and obsession and how it destroyed many lives. The human emotions involved in the story tells us that, centuries may pass, no matter how much humans evolve, the emotions cannot evolve much.

There are several poems embedded in the book. In acknowledgements, the author has given the reference of that to L.C. Crump's ' The lady of lotus' a translation of a Persian work by Ahmad-ul-Umari. This book was about the legend of Roopmati and Baz that contains 26 poems written by Roopmati herself. Some other verses in this book are written by the author herself. All these poems were like a treat to poetry lover in me.

What I loved the most is, side characters are developed in a way that they justify their roles in the lives of leading characters. Women in this book are very well developed. Though this is the story of Roopmati and Baz, my most favourite event of this book was the self-discovery point in the life of Hiba, the Sultana of Mandu.

As I said that I had no idea about this legend, the ending was a surprise for me. My heart ached a little. Overall, my reading experience was enriching and fulfilling. I highly recommend this to the people who are looking for the perfect historical read.


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