A to Z Blogging Challenge F is for fanfiction and the pluralistic version of our epics

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 7 F

I guess fan fiction is here to stay and although the quality of writing is quite bad in some cases, I like fan fiction for making the inherent assumption that the author is not perfect and we always have a choice in changing the stories we want to. I think what I have enjoyed the most is some of the recent fan fiction which is based on the Hindu epic Mahabharata. I have been reading. I think the recent TV series has inspired a lot of this writing. The quality of the writing is not great, indeed as a story it is all quite amateurish, but I am surprised at the freedom people are taking in rewriting myths using modern jargon, modern ideas and quite contrary to the ‘holiness’ of the myth.

Rewriting Mahabharata is nothing new. In Indian literature, there are many point of view retellings of the epic. In recent years, there are many reimaginings, of Mahabharata as science fiction or political thrillers. While many are well accepted, they do tread the lines carefully and are respectful to the overall tone of the epic. But these fan fictions sometimes border on risque. Setting aside the bad writing, some are practically sexual fantasies, some are slap stick comedies.

And maybe that is why I find these stories so heartening. It is not their content or their writing style, but in the fact that they exist. In recent times, I have often wondered if my country and my religion is suddenly getting more intolerant. An esteemed university banned an essay talking about different versions of Ramayana, a play ‘Bed Time Story’ critiquing key incidents in Mahabharata was banned for almost three decades.

Therefore I marvel at how these fictions continue to be written. Maybe it is the annonymity of internet which allows them. Maybe, it is the fact that the readership remains fairly restricted. It is not that these stories receive uniform good reviews. But they remain. There is no call to censor them, or take them out. And so, despite the fact that as fiction, these stories are a sorry excuse, I am glad to have them, because they have restored the tolerance and irreverance, which for me is a critical part of the religion itself.

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