Epics retold

In the age when TV had still not come to every house and there were hardly any movies for children and computers were still long time away from the Indian shores, there grew a generation on mythological stories either told by the grand-parents or through Amar Chitra Kathas.

If one had the luxurious life of living with the grandparents, the stories were told and re-told without any boredom, by the storyteller or the audience. And of course, we eagerly waited for the new edition of Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) – with their beautiful illustrations and stories that took us to the fantasy land – Disneyland was too far off.

Once we moved to Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys age, and later on, Mills and Boon or the Archie comics, these mythological stories seemed so old, outdated or unfashionable to a large audience. And there was a time I thought that this art of storytelling was all gone! Looked like the GenNext will not have the opportunity to know these stories – will not know the story behind why we celebrate Dussehra or Diwali, the significance of Winter Solstice or Uttarayana or the story of burning Holika a day before Holi. However, the focus on India and the Indian growth story helped the child film makers or more specifically, cartoon film makers to take up a subject from ACK and retell the story through digital medium. And so we see those stories on Ganesha, Krishna, Ramayana and Mahabharata – with animation and sound effects to the kids who cannot visualize a life without TV or internet.

And these stories are being retold, for a mature grown-up audience with a modern twist. Last one month has seen the release of two movies – Rajneeti and Raavan – loosely based on Mahabharata and Ramayan respectively – one telling the story of Indian politics and another of a dacoit (or whatever) in a far off jungle in India. One wonders that these stories are much more than just fairly tales – they are as relevant to understand human psyche in modern world as they were centuries ago. So many films have plots that seem to be inspired from the many stories within Mahabharata, Gurcharan Das’s latest book is based on characters from the great epic, these epics seem to find a connect and a context in our modern lives as well. And I really feel that there are many layers in these epics that when revealed can help us understand ourselves better.

In search of inner self,


June 22, 2010

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