Living The Legend’s Life – Of Love, Lust and Letting Go

Review of The Legend of Amrapali-An Enchanting Saga Buried Within The Sands of Time; Anurag Anand; Shrishti Publishers and Distributors 2012; Rs 200; pp 213

– Shana Susan Ninan

The bold golden lettering of the word ‘Amrapali’ and the danseuse herself (in this case, the picture of Mallika Sarabai) stares out at you. The character of Amrapali in the book is drawn out strongly. Anurag Anand brings in the historical angle with a twist – Amrapali is the chosen Nagarvadhu alright, but she has her own terms, and the characters involved in the tale are new, too, to a certain extent.

This is Anurag’s third book, and does him well. The Legend of Amrapali starts with an author’s note, introducing the topic of nagarvadhu, how Anurag came to write this story and his inspirations. Amrapali’s parents were childless and the discovery of this tiny baby beneath the Mango tree’s shade only added to their joy. She grows up to be brilliant, smart and much more intellectually developed than girls her age. Pali was good at dance and music and also in subjects such as Mathematics, battle strategies and archery – topics that only the males dwelt upon, in that era.

Growing up to be a beautiful maiden, she sets heartbeats racing across her villages. People from near and far heard about her. Despite several marriage proposals, her father doesn’t give her away. Having lost his wife earlier, Pali was the last possession he had. But as fate would have it, the devious king of Vaishali lusts after her, stopping at nothing to get to her. He resorts to evil methods to make her his own. And just when Pali is about to be married off to her childhood love, the king announces Pali’s induction as the city’s courtesan, a title which grants access to her at all times. She is forced to accept it, but not without her conditions.

Life isn’t the same, but she strives on. With a trusted friend and loyal guards, she sets out to mete out justice to herself and to the city of Vaishali. The ending is a worthy tribute to one the greatest legends of Indian history. Anurag’s prose is notable.

Amrapali’s expertise in various arts, especially dance, is fortified in the sentences, but I wish Anurag had explained her dance performances with a little more vigour. Right now the reader is left to imagine after a couple of lines of praise and adoration by the author for the danseuse. Let your words lead the reader to imagine further, not right from the beginning of the portrayal of a particular event.

VN:F [1.9.20_1166]
Rating: 8.3/10 (6 votes cast)
Living The Legend’s Life – Of Love, Lust and Letting Go, 8.3 out of 10 based on 6 ratings

enjoyed this post? share with others:

twitter stumble upon digg

This entry was posted on Monday, March 5th, 2012 at 11:00 pm and is filed under Historical Fiction, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. March 8th, 2012 | Naina says:

    I had heard about Amrapali, but did not know her story.. The review makes is sound like an interesting read.. Shall grab my copy soon.. 🙂

leave a comment