Kavita Kané’s Lanka’s Princess is the retelling of Ramayana3 from the perspective of the often misrepresented and misunderstood character of Surpankha,4 the daughter of rishi (sage) Vishravas and rakshasi (monster) Kaiskesi. Kavita Kané uses myths as a pretext to defy the idea of an ideal femininity in her book. Kané’s representation humanizes the character of Surpankha (translation: woman with sharp fingernails) who was born as the beautiful princess Meenakshi, but her defiant demeanor caused her brother Ravan to give her the name of Surpankha. Kané’s work exhibits the inner thought process of an unwelcome girl child in the family who has always been ignored by her mother and overshadowed by her brothers. The “violent restlessness” which is appreciated in the behavior of Ravan as a marker of heroism is often criticized when embodied by Meenakshi (Kané 28). The present study undertakes a textual analysis of Lanka’s Princess and further analyzes how Kavita Kané’s reinterpretation of the marginalized character of Surpankha challenges the stereotypical characterization of Surpankha as the “other” of Sita, who is the embodiment of obedience. In this light, the rewriting of Surpankha’s story by Kavita Kané focuses on the neglected aspects of Surpankha’s identity, which have been crucial in the formation of her female subjectivity. Moreover, Lanka’s Princess as a text strives to liberate her from the stereotypical image of a disfigured monster by demonstrating her as a woman “who has survived hatred, loss, and rejection” (Arekar 131). This research has the potential to invigorate and intensify the impulse to challenge the universally accepted patriarchal discourse concerning the representation of women in Indian mythology.
Sharma, Nancy and Jha, Smita
"Assertion or Transgression: A Critical Study of Surpankha as an Unwelcomed Girl Child in Kavita Kané’s Lanka’s Princess,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 25:
5, Article 8.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol25/iss5/8