Saturday, December 1, 2012


PAGES: 164
PRICE: Rs.125
ISBN: 9788179917190

MY RATINGS: 3 out of 5

My dear friends, I seem to be enthralled neck-deep into the “Mythology/thriller/fantasy” genre of Indian books; not that I am entirely complaining though, but I am surprised with the kind of books that are coming along. I have reviewed Rajiv Menon’s Thundergod and Ashwin Sanghi’s The Krishna Key recently and found them to be not just well written in terms of placing myth into fiction but also well researched and myth- oriented. So, next in queue came Ritu Lalit’s second novel, Hilawi which basically centers itself around  a “godly” or “supernatural” disc-shaped object, named Hilawi that sprung out while the Samudra-manthan or the Churning of the Ocean – an epic moment in the shaping of the myth of Gods and Demons in the Indian mythology.

This Hilawi was then found and carried by a woman slave who went on to protect it and later on, even after her death, her lineage further guarded it as their best-kept secret. However, with power comes responsibility. With power also comes envy, jealousy and politics. Feuds erupt within the community as everyone wanted to take charge of the Hilawi and the power that came along with it. What happens when Gargi and Yaduvir Ojha find out that they are the direct descendants of that family and that now it is Gargi’s responsibility to take charge? Will she leave her modern perspective of reason and logic and believe in an age-old myth that had submerged itself under the debris of debate between history and mythology?

In terms of being a gripper, the story is a winner. Stunning amalgamation of an epic Samudra-manthan episode and then bringing it into temporal existence to the present times and then entwining characters that look, sound and act “real”. The language is simple, flowing and is that of a lay man’s ease. The main characters are well-sketched and the small but important roles each play, in the course of the plot keeps the reader hooked.
There were a few editing mistakes (only two, I think) which I think is ignorable, especially considering the plethora of Hinglish, half-English gibberish stuff we are being fed with daily! The smaller not-so-central characters are somehow introduced in a hurry and as if to push the story further- only, the push seems deliberate and not natural. So that would refer to the story-telling of the author, for whom it is the first mythological fiction she has attempted.

The other glaring mistake was the Cover page. Yeah, the back cover rather. The back cover reads “…When the chants rise up, Gigi or Gargi Tamang finds that….” and I felt something was wrong. I kept reading… the next paragraph started with,

“Yaduvir and Gargi Tamang, twins, are nothing like each other….” And I again felt the sense of uncomfort. Puzzled I read and re-read the back cover synopsis again and again and then it suddenly struck me! “Tamang!” They were the Ojhas! Yaduvir Ojha’s girlfriend, Madhur was a Tamang and not Yaduvir or Gargi.. It startled me because usually whenever a person goes to a bookshop and checks the books, he/she tends to read the synopsis at the back. Such mistakes should thus be avoided, which is a tiny mistake and I am sure would be corrected in the next edition.

All in all, I would ask you to read it if you are the kind who would want to enjoy the connection between myth and fiction. Or the kind who would want to read it out to their kids (editing the love and flirts of course!) It is worth it!

Thumbs Up, Ritu Lalit! And yes, this has scope for a sequel, madame! We would love to know why the name, Hilawi though! I know, but I would want all my readers to have a laugh too! J

You can buy a copy of the book at a discounted rate here!

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