As a people we are quite open to fresh approaches and alternative retellings of our religious texts. Consider the numerous modern-day adaptations of Ramayan and the Mahabharat. Or for that matter the experimentation in fiction, think Palace of Illusions (by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni) or cinema, with movies like Hum Saath - Saath Hain pushing the envelope. Here are 5 recent epic retellings that had us hooked.
In Which Draupadi Gets Those Ones
This 16-minute-long short film, directed by Delhi Belly writer Akshat Verma, is a modern and almost irreverent take on Mahabharat’s Draupadi getting married to the five Pandav brothers. Full of innuendos and wisecracks, which sometimes become a tad too overbearing even, it shows Arjun’s (Amol Parashar) reluctance to follow Kunti’s (Neena Gupta) diktat to share his wife with his brothers. More interestingly, it shows Draupadi’s (Aditi Rao Hydari) excitement over the prospect of enjoying five men. There is also a gay Nakul (Vivaan Shah) - Sahdev (Jim Sarbh), and a very dishy Arunoday Singh playing the gym-addict Bheem.
Sujoy Ghosh’s short film starring Radhika Apte and Bengali actors Soumitra Chatterjee and Tota Roy Chowdhury created quite a stir on social media as soon as it released on Youtube last year. This 14-minute long thriller is a modern take on Ahalya’s story in the Ramayan. The nubile wife of the aged sage Gautama was seduced by Indra and later turned into stone by her husband. The Kahaani director turns this age-old sexist story into a delicious tale of seduction that stumps the audiences with its chilling climax.
The Sci-Fi Baddies
This animated film directed by Rohit Vaid, is scripted by Javed Akhtar and Ashok Banker. A must-watch for the cheesy dialogues among Raavan’s (voiced by Gulshan Grover, Kiku Sharda, among others) 10 forever jabbering heads. I am not too sure why it’s called Mahayoddha Rama though, as it focuses more on Raavan, who in Vaid’s version becomes a snazzy, party-loving king, who is also very, very confused. More in the sci-fi genre, this film was made over a span of eight years, and is loud, engaging and hilarious.
The Missing Queen
No Woman No Try
Samhita Arni’s ‘speculative mythological feminist thriller’ begins where the Ramayana ends. It’s been 10 years that Ram has returned to Ayodhya. Under his able rule, Ayodhya has become a prosperous city, replete with industries, high-rises, malls and media houses. But one question that no one raises: Where is Sita? Until one day, when a newbie journalist gets curious. It’s a dark satire that raises questions of the place of women in ‘Ram Rajya’.
“My Draupadi strips. My Sita climbs on a stranger’s lap. All my women militate.” That is how Meena Kandasamy describes her highly explosive poems based on the great Indian epics and other mythologies. Her feminist retellings shock, stun, sting, singe and push the boundaries of traditional beliefs, while dismantling a few stereotypes on the way.
From HT Brunch, November 20, 2016
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