AN INTERVIEW WITH NOVELIST-FILMMAKER TRISHA DAS

Trisha Das, a filmmaker and bestselling author, has just published Misters Kuru: A Return to Mahabharata (HarperCollins India priced Rs 350), her latest work of feminist mythological fiction.

Ms Draupadi Kuru: A Novel is a sequel to her book. After the Pandavas, the racy, sassy roller-coaster ride full of action, adventure, romance, and comedy is set in modern-day Kalyug in Delhi as a kind of continuation of the Mahabharata.

Das has previously written and directed over 40 documentaries in her filmmaking career, winning an Indian National Film Award (2005) and being named the International Artist of the Year at the UGA (2003).

She discusses the significance of reimagining and rewriting myths from a female viewpoint, her early influences from Indian mythology, and the use of humour in mythology.

The Kuru novels are a kind of sequel to the Mahabharat, rather than a retelling. Thousands of years after the conclusion of the original Mahabharata, the storey of Ms Draupadi Kuru picks up in modern times. Draupadi and her companions descend from heaven to Delhi. The Pandava brothers accompany their women to Delhi in The Misters Kuru.

When asked the question “How were you motivated to write a feminist retelling of the Mahabharata in a contemporary setting?” She replied saying, “My motivation was simple- I wanted to give these characters another shot at their lives, at reshaping their destinies. So many of them were forced into living lives they didn’t want to- being stripped of their kingdom, exiles, et cetera. I though it would be fun to see what kind of lives they would choose, given the choice.”

A mythological woman apparently only has power over men if she has a small waist and lotus eyes, or if she is their mother.

It’s a pain. Women are celebrated for their sacrifices or their appearance rather than their accomplishments. Any form of resistance to being punished or attempt at self-determination is severely punished, and women are constantly punished for their menfolk’s dumb decisions. Ask any attractive woman wanting to take a bath in the woods. Consent is practically non-existent.

She said once, “My maternal grandfather started my fascination with mythology as a young child. He was religious, but in an inclusive way, and he told the best stories from both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. I read various versions and interpretations of the Mahabharata growing up and, as an adult, delved into the Ganguli and Debroy translations, alternate versions like Bheel Mahabharata and mythological fiction. I used to watch the TV series every Sunday on Doordarshan and point out mistakes, which everyone in my house found thoroughly annoying.”

Feminism is a relatively new phenomenon, but female dominance has always existed in some form or another. Even when the official narrative did not endorse it, women have always been strong. They worked in the shadows or exercised influence by dressing up as men, being saints, or a thousand other ways to get around the machine. Feminists are now working to shift the narrative and modify- same result, different approach.

SITA- THE WARRIOR OF MITHILA

Book: Sita – The Warrior of Mithila
Author: Amish Tripathi
Publisher: Westend Publishers
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology

We’ve grown up hearing exciting mythological stories, whether from the Mahabharat, the Ramayan, or other sagas, and we’ve only ever seen them from this perspective. The book Sita gives us various perspectives on Sita’s life, who is best known to most of us as Lord Ram’s wife. The book chronicles her life and the battles she faced before marrying Lord Ram. Her abduction is the only important aspect of her life that most people are aware of. This novel, on the other hand, shows Sita in a variety of colours that many people are unaware of. Sita is depicted in the book as being as fierce, strong, and witty as her husband. In a world where we struggle for feminism and equal rights, this book is essential reading.

Sita fights for her own and others’ interests. Sita is more than a princess; she is a warrior who was raised for a greater purpose: to protect our dharma and to unite India under her leadership. The author has arranged it in the most beautiful and wonderful way possible, from the depiction of environments to the characters and plot. This work of fiction incorporates all mythological elements thus giving Sita’s character the highest priority and fully explaining it. This is a good book to read if you’re interested in learning more about Indian myths or female warriors.

5 INDIAN MYTHOLOGICAL FICTIONS ONE MUST READ

India has a very rich and diverse cultural heritage. If you study India’s history, you will see the lavish lifestyle of the people back in the days. But it is not limited to recent few centuries only. This richness goes way back to the times of gods and goddesses. All this is recorded in the books of literature of the Indian heritage. 

India also has a wide range of books and scriptures one can read if they are into Indian mythological genre or simply mythological genre.

It is a country famous for its wars and folklores and hundreds of things that make Indian history quite an interesting subject. Most of us have grown up listening to these stories by our grandparents. 

Some of the authors have revamped these stories in their creative imagination. Some characters are taken from the most famous stories of Indian history and represent a different aspect of those stories. These have been widely appreciated and loved. Here’s a list of top 5 Indian Mythological fictions one must read at least once:

  1. The Pandavas series by Roshan Chokshi:

An amazing book for the youngsters that tells the story of a young 12-year-old girl named Aru Shah. Her family runs the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture in America. Things turn around for Aru when her friends force her to rub an ancient lamp which releases a sleeping demon. Next thing you see is Aru on an unexpected adventure to set thighs straight by finding the reincarnations of the Pandavas and her journey through the kingdom of death. The series has not yet been completed. But is humorous and full of adventure. The author subtlety and cleverly connects the ancient world to the modern world. 

  1. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni:

You might have heard the epic of Mahabharata many times. But have you heard it from the perspective of the one major cause behind the war, Draupadi? The Palace of Illusions tells this epic from the perspective of Draupadi, her feelings, how she struggled to find a loving home all her life and how she felt when she might have felt when she was gambled away in a game of chess by her five husbands. The book sums the story in 360 pages and tells her side of the story.

  1. Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi:

One of the most beloved books of people, the Shiva trilogy is a must on this list. Amish Tripathi is known for his storytelling and lucid writing. He intertwines the story of Lord Shiva with a fictional background. He beautifully narrates how a common man because of deeds and karma become a God for people. The first part is The Immortals of Meluha, the second The Secret of  Nagas and the third is The Oath of Vayuputras. This is a must-read for all the Shiva as well as mythological lovers. 

  1. The Ramchandra series by Amis Tripathi:

Another brilliantly written series by the author Amish Tripathi is his second expression into the world of mythic-fiction. Like his previous work, The Shiva Trilogy, The Ramchandra series is also a bestseller. This time Amish explores the epic of Ramayana, each book from the perspective of the three main characters the epic revolved around. The series consists of two books Scion of Ikshavaku and Sita: Warrior of Mithila. This series is much better than the Shiva Trilogy in terms of storytelling and plot. The first part, i.e., Scion of Ikshavaku is from the perspective of Lord Ram, the second part, Sita: Warrior of Mithila is from the perspective of Sita, Lord Ram’s wife. Now the third book of the series is awaited which will be from the perspective of Ravana. 

  1. Asura: Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan:

Anand Neelakantan is famous for his books on the two most famous epics of Indian history, Mahabharata and Ramayana. The story follows the original storyline of the original Ramayana but what is different about this book is that it tells you the story from the perspective of Ravana. It gives you the story of the other side, the side which is never told while telling the Ramayana. It is a fresh approach towards the epic of Ramayana and is a page-turner.

There are several other books which are worth giving a read. The list could go on and on. These Indian authors have brought a different perspective of the stories we have heard like a hundred times before.

These books are worth your time. After all who wouldn’t love to divide into the royal, fantasy land even if you only get to experience it through a book and your imagination.

Why is Shiva so popular among millennials?

Shiva is known as being both the destroyer and a mediator. He breaks all stereotypes of that one expects from being a typical God-like figure. From his long dreadlocks that holds the holy river Ganga to a snake around his neck. To wrapping himself with a tiger skin and wears a garland of skulls. He is fearless, minds his own business, and meditates most of the time in the Himalayas. This three-eyed god is the one who lives with reptiles, demons, goblins, and demi-gods without any prejudice of race or creed. It is probably his unique and mysterious ways that make his personality even more alluring.

The kind of world we live in now, one can learn a lot from Shiva. He never discriminated between good and bad, positive and negative, or god and demon. He was never biased. Karma is what he ardently believed in. He is Mahadev for a reason.

It isn’t much of a surprise that in the last few years, Shiva has become a rave among the millennials, especially in India. One can’t deny the fact that people get attracted to strong personalities. Isn’t it? At times he seems to be an epitome of all things good, at other times he is so frightening that you would not want to be around him. He is a quintessential god who breaks all the barriers, lives by his terms, dances in the forest – taandav (his dance of destruction). No doubt he is considered the ‘Millennial God.’

Shiva is very unconventional that makes and breaks all social customs and codes to reach his state of freedom. This means one doesn’t need to worry about how you live, eat, what lifestyle you follow, which caste and creed you belong to, and what norms you practice.

It is easy to worship him. You don’t require a priest, one can simply walk to a shiv temple and offers prayer directly, or pray in your own heart. 

He has immense powers that can destroy our sufferings, removes impurities such an ignorance, delusion, egoism, pride, and attachment to facilitate our personal growth. That means if you are looking for a change of direction in life, he is the right god to worship.

Mahadev is the source of all arts, science, and creations. He is himself a good musician, singer, and dancer. There is no better guru than him in this whole universe. All knowledge flows from him, in the form of Ganga.

He loves his family as dearly as he loves his devotees. One can learn from Shiv about family values and the importance of caring and compassionate relations.

Lord Shiva is one of the most powerful, strongest, and the fascinating Hindu deities ever. He is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. Despite him being considered as God of destruction one has to understand he is the reason for rebirth as well. He possesses both the generative and destructive powers of nature.

Whenever you feel life is unfair, just remember this ultimate power and you’re good to go!