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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ravivarma Thampuran’s Bhayankaraamudy

A call amid communal complexities
Ravivarma Thampuran’s debut novel mirrors a scary face of Kerala


Bhayankaraamudy (The alarming mount), the not much explored place in southern Kerala, is the title of a novel that very much explores a theme that many writers decline to tread: the growing communal disharmony in Kerala. The point, the first time novelist Ravivarma Thampuran is making is worthy of note that we are all bound by our own human nature despite our color and creed. Heard this thousand times over? Varma asserts his positive premise apophatically, attaining his point through negation, by detailing the blemished chapters of a 100 years long history – from Tipu Sultan’s divide and rule policy through Narendra Modism’s hold in Kerala, a state once resistant to communal politics. His intentions are pure even when he imagines that Kerala, like Kashmir, might ask for independence by its own destructive forces conditioned by external power brokers who script a divided nation vulnerable for invasions of many kind. His logic that we were all once one-culture people before we became Muslims, Christians and Hindus may not be approved by all, a point that in a way can only strengthen his point.


The 150-page Malayalam novel, published early this year, had its second edition released in Kuwait in September during Venmany Association program in which Varma was the chief guest. “My aim is that we, as responsible people, do not turn a blind eye to the dividing forces”, said Varma, a journalist and an author of a couple of short stories and studies. 
At heart the novel is about the decadence of Malayali society that is prone to detachment and exclusion of others that are even facilitated by the media. The setting, a newspaper office where an editor is killed at the eerie hours of the night, could be possible anywhere. The eeriness is translated into the language of the rowdies and the radicals for the democratic reader. Varma does not spare any forces that have left their evil footprints in the otherwise refined society whether it be the moral police, or the charismatic movement or the young militia who have been practicing their shooting skills on wooden figures.


Abundant references, brief quotes and quips, and relevant newspaper stories blood the body of a novel that is written from an investigator’s angle. The journalists who form a resisting alliance are frustrated by their discovery of their fiery editor’s unholy links. But the killer is yet another frustrated both on a personal and social level.


Varma does not offer solutions nor does he intimidate the reader. He does find fear as the root cause of evil then of the rulers and now of the separatists. The novel is rather a signboard than an in depth treatise or critique on the communally-corrupted society. Perhaps that is the author’s tactic for the novel to reach a greater audience which is the purpose of such a theme.

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