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Ramayana: The Devine Loophole

by Sanjay Patel
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Publishing date: 10/02/2010
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780811871075
  • ISBN: 081187107X

Synopsis

Artist and veteran Pixar animator Sanjay Patel lends a lush, whimsical illustration style and lighthearted voice to one of Hindu mythology's best-loved and most enduring tales. Teeming with powerful deities, love-struck monsters, flying monkey gods, magic weapons, demon armies, and divine love, Ramayana tells the story of Rama, a god-turned-prince, and his quest to rescue his wife Sita after she is kidnapped by a demon king. This illustrated tale features over 100 colorful full-spread illustrations, a detailed pictorial glossary of the cast of characters who make up the epic tale, and sketches of the work in progress. From princesses in peril to gripping battles, scheming royals, and hordes of bloodthirsty demons, Ramayana is the ultimate adventure story presented with an unforgettably modern touch.


Q&A with Author and Illustrator Sanjay Patel

Q: What was your inspiration to tell this story?

Patel: Well I finally read the thing. I mean I suck at reading and everything. But I came across a great adaptation of the Ramayana by an author named Ashok Banker. I actually discovered the book via Nina Paley's blog. She's the one woman force behind Sita Sings the Blues, the feature length animated work about the same subject. After reading a few pgs on Amazon I ordered the first book by Mr. Banker which weighed in at over five hundred pgs. Keep in mind that was just book one of a seven part series. I just read and read and the thing slowly unlocked. And what I found was an ancient mythology with themes and symbols that were timeless and essential. Really meaningful stuff all wrapped up in a visually rich world of epic adventure. The story was just begging to be illustrated.

Q: How did you get started working at Pixar?

Patel: The only thing I was ever good at was copying drawings from comic books. I just drew, and nothing could ever get me to stop. All throughout school I was considered "the artist," which really just meant that I could make really bad drawings for people’s letterman jackets. A friend told me about Cal-Arts and animation. The school was the key. Most of Pixar’s directors have come straight out of Cal-Arts and its character animation program. I just walked in their footsteps and they ended up recruiting me after my second year. I've been at Pixar ever since, close to thirteen years now.

Q: Describe your creative process. How do you create your illustrations?

Patel: Once I have a concrete idea of the story point that I want to communicate, which is usually nailed down in the writing, I then think of one “story telling image. For instance, it's a big story point when Hanuman, the monkey with special powers, uses his burning tail to set fire to the Ravana's capital city. Since this story has been told many times before I try and research what visual artist have done previously to communicate this moment. Here I pulled together reference from paintings and from vintage comics.

Click on the image to learn more about Patel's creative process and see more example illustrations.




Q: How long did it take you to create the scenes in the book?

At one point the illustrations were getting churned out at about one every two and half days. I was at a good clip till I decided to redo the entire book three times. I kept fighting with trying to make the art light hearted and cute, but the story was anything but that. The Ramayana is pretty dramatic and graphic, and I eventually found a style and voice that captured those things. It only took me four years.

Q: Which characters in the Ramayana did you have the most fun illustrating?

Patel: I can doodle Ravana the ten-headed demon king in my sleep at this point. I also love sketching Hanuman and Rama. They both have really fun shapes to fiddle with. The cover of the book was actually a blast, it was probably the last illustration I did.

Some of Sanjay's Favorites:

Favorites Illustrator(s)
Marc Boutavant
J Otto Seibold
Saul Steinberg
William Steig
Ronald Searle
Richard Scarry
Martin & Alice Provenson
Mary Blair
Charley Harper
M. Sasek
T. Biskup
Lewis Trondheim


Favorite movie(s)
Back to the Future
Amelie
The Wrong Trousers
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Mission
Raising Arizona
Princess Mononoke
Dumbo
Abyss
Bottle Rocket



Favorite band(s)
That's a toss up between M83 and Sigur Ros


Favorite restaurant(s)
Usually places that serve french fries and hot sauce.


Favorite book(s)
Phoenix Karma by Osamu Tezuka:
Calvin & Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson
Angry Youth Comix by Johnny Ryan




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  • Breathtakingly beautiful storytelling
    From Amazon

    I just purchased Sanjay Patel's re-telling of the Ramayana, a tale I vaguely knew about from movies, but did not know intimately. The illustrations are simply breathtaking... the gorgeous colors and strong lines convey the mood and place of the story exceptionally well. I also loved Sanjay's personal voice as a storyteller... it may not be a traditional telling of the myth, but I felt like Sanjay was a native storyteller, sitting down in front of the fire with a rapt audience absorbing every word. It was simple, but heartfelt. I came away better appreciating the hindi culture and religion, but also satisfied with a well-told tale. It was quite a feat for Sanjay to accomplish both, and I applaud his efforts. And we are the lucky recipients of his hard work.

  • Well Done!
    From Amazon

    I bought this Epic for my daughter. I read it first - amazing! All the details were correct and the art is fantastic! A must have.

  • Drool-worthy Illustrations. Ramayana Illustrated like never before.
    From Amazon

    The key attraction for our family in this book are the illustrations. Sanjay Patel has used vector point illustrations to translate his sketches in to digital format using adobe illustrator. Four years of hard work, each page taking approximately seven days to finish and the result is this vibrant 185 page eye candy. I literally drooled. I have never see Ramyana illustrated like this before. Considering that this book came at the time, I was struggling to translate some of my sketches in to digital format using illustrator and photoshop and was throughly frustrated with the result, my respect for the book doubled. And of course, Sanjay Patel saying that Rama kneeled before Sita's feet asking her forgiveness for having suspected her faithfulness and the authors note that `Times have changed, as have customs, but love has always been complicated' agreed well with me :) The tone of the book is very casual and the target audience is definitely the `non-hindu but is curious about the monkey god and such' category. So if you are seeking deep spiritual advice and an insight in to hinduism then you are barking up the wrong tree. Both my daughters love looking at the pictures in this book. They can sit for a good hour, just turning the glossy pages, absorbing the pictures. My only gripe is about the illustration of Ravana. In order to make him symmetrical Sanjay Patel took poetic license and shows only nine heads.

  • Very enjoyable book
    From Amazon

    I enjoyed sitting with my boys and going through the story and illustrations with them. Great father/sons time. They still leaf through the book daily! Very thought provoking for young children and a great first step in piquing their interest in understanding: religion, morality, duty, etc...

  • Eye candy....but intellectually lazy
    From Amazon

    I grew up loving the Epic story of Ramayana from my Amar Chitra Katha comic collection. Now it's the 20th century, I have kids of my own, and I figured it's time to step up the game a little bit. Patel has no doubt created visually stunning rendition of the great mythology and for that I can only give the highest praise. His dealing with the prose however leaves a bit to be desired. Don't get me wrong...the story is as true to any version I have read (or heard) but he can be rather inconsistent in certain parts where he takes literary license to add personal commentary. I have also noticed a number of typographical errors (which are just a pet peeve of mine). My kids like it and so do I. Strongly recommended.

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