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Ramayana: Divine Loophole Hardcover – February 10, 2010

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Ramayana: Divine Loophole + The Little Book of Hindu Deities: From the Goddess of Wealth to the Sacred Cow + Ganesha's Sweet Tooth
Price for all three: $46.24

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (February 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081187107X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811871075
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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
The Wrong Trousers
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Mission
Raising Arizona
Princess Mononoke
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

About the Author

Sanjay Patel is the author of The Little Book of Hindu Deities and is an animator and storyboard artist for Pixar Animation Studios, where he has worked on numerous films, including Monsters, Inc.; A Bug's Life; Toy Story 2; Ratatouille; The Incredibles; and Toy Story 3. He has also worked on The Simpsons for Fox and with legendary cartoonist John K., creator of Ren and Stimpy.

More About the Author

Sanjay Patel is an animator and storyboard artist for Pixar Animation Studios, where he has worked on features that include Monsters, Inc., A Bugs Life; Toy Story 2; and The Incredibles. He has also worked on The Simpsons for Fox and with legendary cartoonist John K., creator of Ren and Stimpy."

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
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See all 54 customer reviews
His sense of color, even better.
Lance Falk
The illustrations are beautiful and insightful and it makes the story line easy to follow.
Studio Synthesis
This book was amazing for my 3 year old son!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Parka TOP 50 REVIEWER on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Length: 0:26 Mins
Sanjay Patel's take on the classic Sanskrit epic is refreshing and engaging. Adapted and written in a lighter prose, the book is inviting to any readers who want learn more about the tale. The story is fascinating and gets increasingly so towards the end, with lots of nice surprises. For someone like me who knows nothing about any Hindu stories, I felt like I know a lot more after reading this book.

The story is well paced and laden with beautiful illustrations. Each page is filled with scenes of glorious colours -- nothing less for this colourful tale. The characters are also nicely designed. The vector style drawings (known for straight lines and smooth curves) are unique, especially when used to tell mythical tales, and work very well in this case.

Sanjay Patel also talked a bit about the making of this book. It took four years in the making, or 7 days per page. Vector drawings are very time consuming because it involves plotting and joining points using a graphic software to form (countless) lines. Basically you have to draw the draft and redraw everything again in vector with the scanned draft. Hats off to him for this tremendous piece of effort.

Also included at the back are some sketches of the preliminary ideas. Pretty fun to look at. The cartoon style interpretation of some scenes will give you an idea what the book could have turned out to be if not done in vector style.

This is a fun and nice read. I don't know if this book is intended for kids but it's certainly a book anyone can like.

(More pictures are available on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ravi Iyer on April 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By L. Johnson on February 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Wow! If you've ever read the Ramayana, you know it's one meaty tale - epic is the least of terms. The challenge of retelling the story alone is phenomenal, much less reinventing 2,000 years of artistic interpretation, and Mr. Patel does both exquisitely. I'd almost say he makes it look easy, but we are lucky enough to have him share his process and appreciate just how much work, grace and dedication went into the creation of this beautiful book. If you haven't read the Ramayana, it may have been because reading it alone can be an intimidating undertaking, yet Mr. Patel makes the story accessible, visually stunning and exceptionally relatable. I have read several versions, ranging from 200 to 2000 pages (the 2000 one was better, and every one is different) but found new things to appreciate in this version, which says a lot. Part of it again relates to Mr. Patel's personality coming through in his interpretation. You feel like you're hearing the story from an engaging friend who clearly has deep love for the epic and the grace therein. But then! The imagery! It's jam-packed with meaning, but you'd have to know the whole story to appreciate the fullness of Mr. Patel's efforts in that regard. You don't have to know the story to fall in love with them. They are fresh, simple, rich, and beautifully fun. You can take in the panels in a breath or an hour, they are that expressive and that captivating. Like in his "Little Book of Hindu Deities" Mr. Patel's work has a light heart but clearly honors the deep import of the subject matter - a wonderful combination of reverent and refreshing. I wish I could imbue this review with the same simplicity, the same ease, the same humility, and a better sense of just how stunning this book is. Nope, you've got to pick up a copy, hold it in your hands, enjoy it for yourself. It is said that simply reading that Ramayana showers blessings upon you. I certainly feel blessed adding this book to my collection. Well done, Mr. Patel!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Fowler on February 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The price of the book, actually very reasonable, is easily paid for by the brilliant artwork on each page. The illustrations truly bring this wonderful epic to life in a way that is unique and extraordinarily enjoyable - it's pure eye candy. The rendering of the story is a bit too playful for my tastes, but this is really a minor critique and any trouble with the narrative is more than made up for by the artwork which tells the whole story beautifully on its own. The story is also quite freely told, but again, this is not really the point of the book; it's meant to be playful and, overall, that works just fine. So, in conclusion, you should definitely buy this book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By utbtkids on May 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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