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Book Review: Magic Vessels, a Folklore from Tamilnadu

15 June 2012 727 views No Comment

Written by: Brij Singh

Just finished reading this wonderful book to my daughters. Bed time reading session where I usually tend to mash-up two stories. One from the book and one I imagine while reading the original. It’s a small game we play. Daughters try to catch me when I go off the script. Going off the script is what we enjoy most. Almost like reading and reviewing at the same time.

Basically Magic Vessels is a story of a poor playwright Muthu. He is poor, he is a playwright, and he has eleven children. Author, Vayu Naidu, has used a very crisp and sudden way to emphasize this fellow’s plight in life. He is a playwright so he deals in imagination, which usually means he is good for nothing – except maybe for producing kids? Since I had to go off the script, every now and then I had to emphasize the burden of raising eleven kids in a jungle like village settings. How many of his kids act in his plays, which school do they go to, why his wife agreed to let him write plays when those plays are not paying the bills. Many questions. All off the script.

“You are not reading from the book,” younger daughter quickly reminded me.

Book has nice illustrations. Inspired by the clay sculptures that used to guard villages in Tamilnadu. Those sculptures originally represented Ayyanar warriors. Most of the characters in book are having strong and big expressive eyes, just like those warriors. At times I felt they were overdone, as Muthu’s wife Chellam almost grows mustache by the time you reach end of the book. Mugdha Shah, student from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, has done a good job of bringing out peaceful village environment. Strong vibrant colors kept us glued to the book.

Book has a charming flow to it. Poor man gets all the help one can imagine. And true to our cultural heritage – richest man, a greedy entrepreneur, gets all the scorn. Eventually book succeeds in conveying mandatory good and evil messages. By the time I reached last page of the book, daughters were already half asleep. I thought for a while how children books end. What if we just suspend the messaging part and keep the issue of right and wrong open. Imagine if Muthu had decided to get into silk business and greedy Kuppuswamy had shown interest in reading plays. Folklores are not supposed to be complicated. I tell myself and close the book.

You can buy this book from Tulika Publisher website. It’s available in English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, and Gujarati language.

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