Any retelling of an Indian epic is a mammoth task. But given that it is surprising how many times it has actually been done. Perhaps that is the allure of an epic. You never get tired of telling and retelling the story.
Manu Sharma’s Krishna Ki Atmakatha is a political retelling of the Mahabharat it nine parts. I should not really call it a retelling of the Mahabharat. As is clear from the name, it is the autobiography of Krishna. But it tells us not the story of Krishna the God but of Krishna the politician. On the sprawling pages of this epic, Krishna transforms from a gifted adolescent to a master politician. His God-hood is reduced to clever propaganda.
There are some problems with this text. I felt the characterization to be a bit restrictive. We get to see only one part of Krishna’s character – that of a politician. But Krishna was a lot else. He was a lover, he was a friend and he was a King. We don’t really get to see all of these. And among the ministrations of Krishna and Chhandak, his most trusted man, other personas fade into the background. One does not get any insight into the characters of the Pandavas, with the possible exception of Bheem who is splendidly portrayed as a muscular brainless hunk.
However, I have only recently started reading things in Hindi and I have found the style to be distinctively different from the Western Novel. Perhaps it will take some time to sink in.