In author Trisha Das’s new book, Draupadi goes clubbing, swigs single malt whisky, and punches misbehaving men in Delhi
Of all the mythological characters, Draupadi has been a champion for Indian writers. She has been reinvented by literary stalwarts such as Mahashweta Devi in her short-story, Draupadi, set in the tribal villages of Bengal.
Tamil writer Yarlagadda Lakshmi Prasad’s Sahitya Akademi-winning novel, Draupadi, that explored her sexual encounters with each of the Pandava brothers. Last month, director Akshat Verma’s short film, Mama’s Boy, revisited Draupadi’s tale in a contemporary set up.
Now, writer and documentary film-maker Trisha Das’s (40) upcoming novel, Ms Draupadi Kuru: After The Pandavas, follows. Das envisions Draupadi as a foodie, who swigs single malt whisky, has the time of her life in nightclubs and, sometime, punches guys in Delhi. And she is not alone. She is accompanied by her friends Amba and Kunti, as well as her “frenemy” Gandhari.
Based on the excerpts that have been shared online, Das has already received some flak. But she remains unperturbed. “It is not a religious book. People who have not even read the book are judging it. It’s just my point of view. Besides, I feel, Draupadi is the most relatable character to a modern Indian woman. She is fiery and independent. Most girls, today, can hardly connect to Sita. I am sure that when they read the book, they will connect to the humour,” says Das, who won the National Award for direction of Best Educational/Motivational/Instructional Film — Fiddlers on the Thatch.
However, we do wonder why Draupadi, who paints the town red, couldn’t be based in Mumbai, the city that apparently never sleeps. But Das, who has been developing the idea for five years, has a historical explanation for the setting. “Archaeologists have excavated some ruins of Indraprastha — the capital of the Pandavas — underneath Purana Qilla in Delhi. So it only felt natural to set her adventures, and misadventures, there,” she says.
With comedian Vir Das being her brother, one would imagine that he would have read the manuscript. But Trisha bursts the bubble, and reveals that he only “nagged her to complete the book”. “I thought of this idea five years back. But then I had two babies. I was busy feeding them and the story took a backseat. Vir kept asking me to get my act together,” she says.
Ms Draupadi Kuru: After The Pandavas is published by HarperCollins Publishers India. Price: Rs 350.