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Monday, Aug 26, 2019

This zine gives a contemporary spin to the women of Mahabharata

Oh Nari, So Sanskari! is a satirical zine by visual artist Annushka Hardikar where she portrays the female characters of the Mahabharata as modern women who speak their mind.

more-lifestyle Updated: Jun 23, 2017 09:58 IST
Soma Das
Soma Das
Hindustan Times
An illustration from Oh Nari, So Sanskari!
An illustration from Oh Nari, So Sanskari!(Illustration courtesy: Annushka Hardikar)

The Mahabharata is an epic that people across age groups are familiar with. Yet, not everybody (read: millennials) can relate to the characters or their struggles. Understanding this disconnect, Pune-based visual artist Annushka Hardikar (22) conceptualised a tongue-in-cheek zine where the epic’s female characters — Draupadi, Kunti and Gandhari — tackle issues ranging from body shaming and obsession with marriage to overt emphasis on virginity.

Titled Oh Nari, So Sanskari! the zine features colourful illustrations that depict the “aadarsh” Indian woman as someone who may have a job but also wakes up at 5am to prepare dabba, and the “millennial good wife” who has to remember #patiparmeshwar 24/7. There is even a hymen restoration mantra to fix “what is broken down there”, and a Draupadi hairbrush that erases memory of sexual experiences.

Hardikar reimagines the characters of Gandhari, Kunti and Draupadi.
Hardikar reimagines the characters of Gandhari, Kunti and Draupadi. ( Illustration courtesy: Annushka Hardikar )

Hardikar, who recently completed her undergraduate studies in Visual Communication from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, has been working on this zine for the last four months.

“Indian women, in this day and age, are more aware, decisive, bold and opinionated than they are shown to be in the epic. It started becoming evident how dependent these characters were on the men in their lives, although they were probably wiser and capable of making the right decisions. For the millennial generation to connect to these stories, they needed to be retold in a way that highlighted how strong these characters really were,” she says.

The zine speaks of the stereotypical image of Indian women.
The zine speaks of the stereotypical image of Indian women. ( Illustration courtesy: Annushka Hardikar )

Towards this end, Hardikar revamped the visuals, text and tone of voice in her zine. “Based on surveys and interviews, I noticed that millennials enjoy a contemporary visual style that is bold and quirky. They take to articles, posts and texts they can relate to, and is relevant to their time. Depicting new perspectives, relatable scenarios and addressing stereotypes is what I felt would appeal to this target audience,” she adds.

For the illustrations, she drew inspiration from Amar Chitra Katha and Panchatantra comics she read as a child. “That style is rather nostalgic, and combined with a pop-art approach, it made the zine quite dramatic. I tried to find the middle ground between sticking to the story and redefining it,” she says.

An illustration from the zine.
An illustration from the zine. ( Illustration courtesy: Annushka Hardikar )

The zine also focuses on how the kind of content available to women is rather superficial, be it the ads targeted at them or articles in women’s magazines. “A majority of women’s magazines are only aimed at convincing women that they are reading something of substance when they are largely projecting perfect lives and selling products,” explains Hardikar.

She now plans to publish the zine and make it available for sale.

Check out the zine on

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First Published: Jun 21, 2017 15:15 IST

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