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Will goddess Kali appear among American Gods?

May 16, 2017 17:23 IST

It remains to be seen if all the gods in the Neil Gaiman book make an appearance in the televised adaptation, but at its core the show, which is streaming in India on Amazon Prime, is more significant now than ever. After all, it is the universal story of immigrants who stayed on to call America home, says Nikita Puri.

American Gods

IMAGE: Ian McShane as Wednesday or Odin, the most prominent of gods in Norse mythology.
Though American Gods largely remains true to the book, there have been some not-so-subtle changes. But these only seem to add to the show, as one finds out after comparison.

 

In the last three years that Shadow Moon has been in prison, marking the days he'd get out of his cold cell, the former fitness trainer has spent his time practising coin tricks, and keeping his head down.

Based on Neil Gaiman's iconic novel by the same name, the story of the TV show called American Gods begins when Shadow finally walks out into the world a free man.

Soon after he acknowledges a personal loss, Shadow meets a silver-tongued charmer who calls himself Mr Wednesday, and goes on to offer Shadow a job. After a long night of drinking at a crocodile-themed bar with Wednesday and his associate (Mad Sweeney), Shadow agrees to become the former's bodyguard.

Shadow understands Wednesday, a man with one glass eye, has a grand plan; what he doesn't realise early on is that Wednesday is actually Odin, the All-Father, the most prominent of gods in Norse mythology.

And that Mad Sweeney is actually a leprechaun who moved from Ireland to the States a long time ago.  

When immigrants first touched the shores of America (and everywhere for that matter), they also brought along the deities of their homeland. But as time progressed, new deities took their places: these new gods have been born of people's fervent worship for relatively 'newer' things, like technology and media.

And even though Shadow's instincts warn him of a storm brewing, little is he prepared to discover a world where the old gods are going to war with the new ones.

This is essentially the premise of the show, that the gods we've believed to exist only in mythology or folk tales are alive and they walk among us, living seemingly ordinary human lives.

And guiding us through their world on Earth is Shadow. 

English actor Ricky Whittle fits well into the shoes of the reserved but loyal Shadow Moon, but it is Ian McShane who shines the most as the sinister yet charming Wednesday.

Gillian Anderson plays one of the new gods (Media) in the eight-episode series.

The good bit about the show is that it is a brave attempt at capturing the truly fantastic scenes and characters from Gaiman's masterpiece and translating them on screen. This is an attempt that seems thoroughly fruitful as far as screenplay and visuals are concerned.

To bring to life a work of modern mythology is no easy task, especially because of the fine complexities of the multiple strong characters involved. If not for the team behind it, including American screenwriter and producer Bryan Fuller (of the TV show Hannibal), the task would have seemed inconceivable.  

Compared to the book written 16 years ago, the show progresses at a slower pace.

Perhaps the makers wanted the audience to soak in wide-open landscapes or feel the crumminess of seedy roadside motels. But one would really like to quickly breeze to a point where the essentially cryptic plot begins to make sense.

Though the show largely remains true to the book, there have been some not-so-subtle changes, specifically for those who've read the book. But these only seem to add to the show, as one finds out after comparison. 

It remains to be seen if all the gods in the book, like the Egyptian god Anubis who's associated with mummification, or even Kali from the pantheon of Hindu deities, make an appearance. But at its core the show is more significant now than ever.

After all, it is the universal story of immigrants who stayed on to call America home. 

American Gods released in India on May 1 on Amazon Prime.

Nikita Puri
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