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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014

Indian mythology from a Western perspective

IANS  New Delhi, August 29, 2013
First Published: 15:22 IST(29/8/2013) | Last Updated: 17:13 IST(30/8/2013)

Lord Shiva has lost his athletic body and goddess Sita is wearing a gown - Indian mythology gets a Western makeover with graphic novel "Brahma Dreaming" that retells the story with powerful and emotive monochromatic illustrations.

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Penned by London-based writer John Jackson and illustrated by Italian-born Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, the story of India's popular Hindu gods and goddesses comes alive in 50 illustrations.

"In many instances I made a point of avoiding to look at the traditional depiction of the gods and goddesses as I wanted to keep, as much as I could, a fresh approach," Terrazzini told IANS in an e-mail interview from London.

"When I set off to imagine how I would represent these stories, I chose to follow as closely as possible what I naturally visualised in my mind while I was reading them," she said, adding that the choice of gowns was obvious because they belong to her childhood landscape more than saris do.

The graphic novel will have an international release in October, but its London-based publishers, JJ Books, don't have a distributor in South Asia as yet and it will not be released in India immediately. The 248-page novel has tales of the "Trimurti" - the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - and is divided into three sections that elaborates their roles of creator, preserver and destroyer.

The book begins with Lord Brahma, the creator, and how the universe was created, followed by various interconnected tales.

The artistic tapestry creates a dramatic representation of situations with Terrazzini freezing emotions of anger, jealousy, vulnerability, pain and rage.

"Once I read the stories and decided which moment within that story would lend itself to the right balance of aesthetic power and dramatic tension, I set off to do a lot of visual research as well as, in some cases, to find more information about particular elements," she told IANS.

On the different forms of Parvati, Shiva's consort, the book depicts her first as Uma and then as Kali, who dances in rage and slays the demons.

This is the second time the writer and the illustrator have collaborated. Their first attempt was "Tales for Great Grandchildren".

Both of them agreed that dealing with a complex subject of Indian mythology was a "challenge."

"I do not fear criticism. I welcome constructive criticism. I try to retell in an honest way guided by my own inner voices," Jackson added.


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