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The Friendless God: Where Ram, raga collide

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>First-time author and business journalist S Anuradha’s novel The Friendless God received an enthusiastic reception from the audience in Mumbai’s Press Club on Friday. Set against the backdrop of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue, the novel traces the parallel, overlapping journeys of atheist mother and struggling Carnatic musician Vaidehi and her Ram adoring son, Kodanda. The quintessential domesticity of these South Indian characters take a sharp turn when a deep attraction for Lord Ram compels Kodanda to embark on an ambitious journey all the way north, to Ayodhya. This, even as political fracas rages in the country.While senior business journalist described the book as “racy yet descriptive, with a touching conclusion”, the author admitted to being stirred into creative action by her own experience in the newsroom during the 90s, when she realised that “information (on the topic) was scarce” and of whatever available, “very little was given out to the public”. Of course, the book isn’t only forked into the private and the political – the main narrative is interwoven with strands of the Tamil-Telegu conflict in language and music, widowhood in India, Carnatic music, Kalamkari painting and, of course, generous morsels of Indian history. In between snatches of passage reading where she was joined by the author, Venkatesh highlighted a paragraph that throws light on the novelist’s attention to her peripheral characters — citing the tenderness inherent in the description of a Muslim boatman, who ruffles the waters of a sunset-hushed Sarayu river despite his apprehensions, to ferry Ram Bhakts to Ayodhya.Hosted by the Indic Book Club and attended by an audience well-geared with questions, insights and high praise, the event excused itself from the predictability of book launches with its immediate socio-political resonance.

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