When a book has a literary puff /blurb by the wordsmith Gulzar himself then it ought not to be a simple read. I knew I was reading an enticing novel when I was only 20% into the book. Koral Dasgupta’s Rasia, published by Rupa Publications, is one splendidly spun tale of love, hatred and self-realization.
The novel follows the story of Shekhar, ace Bharatnatyam dancer of India whose ambitions take him far and wide in the world of art. His biggest support system is his wife, Manasi. But their happily married life is met with an obsessed fan, Vatsala. Her obsession with Shekhar is such that she leaves no stone unturned to bring Shekhar’s dance school to New York. However, Manasi calls the obessed fan to perform along with Shekhar on their inaugural night. What is Manasi’s motive behind this act?
The novel is in first person but every character has a say. The major characters that bring forth the story are Shekhar, Manasi, Brian (the journalist), Vatsala and the voice which is Manasi’s father. Every character’s perspective gets justified leaving no space for prejudice in the minds of the readers.
I am bubbling with varied emotions as I write this review. There are very few books that give you immense pleasure and enchant you with their story.
If Shekhar is disciplinarian, Manasi is maternal and Vatsala is like a free flowing river. The characteristics of the three main characters kept reminding me of Shiv, Parvati and Ganga. It is a conventional resemblance you see but what you read is unusual, exceptional. Using these deities, the dance form and even the characters as the medium, the author weaves the emotions of love, hatred and arrives at self realization in an uncanny way of storytelling. Vatsala’s presence reminds Shekhar of his past and his mistakes. Shekhar’s absence helps Manasi to understand her abilities. The coming together of Manasi, Shekhar and the dance form Bharatnatyam helps Vatsala understand how wrong she had always been.
Shekhar, Manasi and Vatsala’s tale or rather a slice of their life is a beautiful journey every connoisseur of art will enjoy. Not only is the language packed with literary punches but it exudes a sensual and alluring aura.
I was completely in trance as I was reading it. It thrilled me towards the end. I was pulled into the performance, I lost the track of time and I felt like I was in a vacuum. As the performance ended I was brought back to reality, the vacuum released. I had perhaps held my breath all along I was reading the dramatic performance, Rasia. I have never read a book which could infuse mythology with fiction this magnificently.
For an art lover, it was unraveling of a magnum opus. I could see it unfold like I would a cinema. For me it was cinematic /literary brilliance. All I can say further is that I would like to see it turned into a motion picture and I am sure that it is likely to take the world cinema by storm.
Rating: 5 stars
Publisher: Rupa publication