For someone who grew on steady diet of comics and storybooks, I never quite had any imagination for how those mythical palaces and kingdoms and their inhabitants would look like, for I was pretty sure about them!! The limited sketches on Ambulimama were enough for me to convince on the curvature of the swords carried by the princes, there cut-shoes topped with upward pointing arcs, their mini frock like dress which every character wore which weird yet consistent across all stories, their looks more or less same with milky white complexioned princess and prince and dark dreadful looking villains, be it witch/wizard or the cunning mantri's. Their quests/challenges were always befuddling as to why would anyone travel across so many seas and oceans and mountain just to save a king or princess in distress. Most of the time either they would hit a curse or some situation where in, as luck would have it, they would be saved just in the nick of time by some dwarf or bird or some weird animal, which again would be their counterpart in curse, awaiting for such sonagiri prince to undertake that useless quest. The most important point is the curse and the curser (not the one following the typed word on the monitor..shabba..kambooter padikka aarambichapa idhu puriyaama ethana naal paadu!!!) . If not for the curse there is no story and no opportunity for the hero to showcase his heroism.
The saamiyaars who give the curse were generally pretty clever. The vimochanams they give were always simple - just have to wait till some guy comes and steps on the accursed being or touch them, beat them whatever. But the location would be something that no one bothers to travel. As for the saamiyars, their looks again would be consistently same. Someone quite some time back has decided that anyone drawing a saamiyar should always make sure that they are seen sporting "bodysoda" hair bun and long flowing thaadi, with a small kamandalam and one y shaped thandam. Without any of which their attire is incomplete. This has become such an unshakable norm that, till date, there has been no alternative identified. Ditto for the arakkan/rakshashan getup. Either they would be shiny bald with weird looking tuft or would be sporting hairstyle like Malinga/MSD mix. Uniformly, across all stories, they would be pot bellied and several feet tall and physically super powerful. The bigger they are in size, easier would be our heroes effort in slaying them.
The accessories that help our hero in the quest are another intriguing thing that sets sail the story, for the curse in itself would hold the story only for so long. Everyone who assist our hero would know where those flying horses, invisible cloaks, never rusting swords, magic shoes and what not are located. But no one would disturb them from their place and they would await the arrival of our sonagiri hero. As for the princess in distress are concerned, nothing would be more confusing as to how they managed to survive all those while inside the demon's lair. Infact, per the picturization on the stories, they would all look hale and healthy and well fed as well. Apdi well settled aana edathulenthu why would they want to escape with our sonagiri hero was an unanswered question for me, considering that they do fall for the beast over beauty if the heart is pure. Probably they value their freedom more than those luxuries? Didn't think so.
The worst of the lot would be the ilichayavaai king and if anyone is even worse it would be the queen. She never gets any story space and is always found towards the "Mangalam" portion to throw atchathai on the princess wedding. The king fares slightly better as he gets to announce the bounty for whoever saves the princess or his nation from evil's clutches. And finally, along with the queen, he would appreciate the prince and give his daughter in wedding. Thondru thottu across all raja rani story this has been their role or the lack of it. Sontha ponnu kaapatharatha vida vera enna velai irukum Raajakku? After declaring the bounty, usually the king falls sick and in some cases, the quest itself would be to find a medicine for him, on time, so that kind of settles his characterization. Never have in any of those stories that I read, there was even an inkling of humour, unlike those tracks forced in movies, where despite all those hulla-bulla, there would a Nagesh or Chandra Babu or NS Krishnan, to tickle the audience and at times prove valuable side kick for the hero.
When I read those stories, I always wondered what those princes would eat and where would they sleep and take bath and kaalai kadan matter and all, for they would always be on horse back, rushing towards a destination about which they would've no clue. Maybe, if read the same now, I might question a lot more and even criticize them for not being politically correct. I wish my kid doesn't get straightjacketed in his opinion on such stories, if at all he gets to read them and hope he enjoys reading those stories as much as I did.
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