Fantasy is a Myth

So, why is it that most fantasy books by Indian authors are just rewriting of Indian mythology? Indian writing in English is booming and people are writing in all genres; there is apparently even an Indian E.L.James! However, when it comes to fantasy the Indian authors can’t seem to break away from their roots and the traditional stories that they have grown up with. Is it that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata consume their thoughts and prevent the writers from thinking creatively or are they genuinely only interested in re interpreting the old stories and not writing new ones? Or perhaps, India, rich in mythology does not need fantasy?
PS: I don’t think that is the case because enough Indians read proper fantasy. We included.
LL: After all fantasy has to be fantasy and it’s predictable and tedious to read versions of the same old stories. No matter how many ‘original’ angles the authors think they have found like in the Immortals of Meluha series.
PS: There are fantasy books based on other mythologies like the many books on Robin Hood. The Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan are populated by Greek gods and there are books based on ancient Egyptian mythology. But the difference is that the Indian myths are the only ones which form the basis of an existing and living religion.
LL: And it’s strange that writers are so keen to tinker with it.
PS: I know so many people who do already find it unacceptable because they find religious stories as fantasy fiction unpalatable. Largely because it’s so personal and so real to them and they find the versions of Ashok Banker or Amish Tripathi as bizarrely meddling with the truth.
LL: We have to give the writers credit that they try to keep that in mind to some extent but then they have only so much leeway with the story.
PS: That could paradoxically be one of the reasons why such fiction is written because it’s so all pervasive and it’s almost like a re interpretation of historic events for the writers. And that is probably why the genre has a fan following in the Indian market.
LL: Yes, but why call it fantasy? Because it is not. If on the one hand people think it is based on real stories then it can’t be fantasy and on the other hand, it’s not original.
PS: The only fantasy which had borrowed elements from mythology and yet was original in the story and the world it depicted was the Simoqin Prophecies (Gameworld Trilogy) by Samit Basu. I loved the first book.
LL: But the series, I felt, went off track. The later books did not live up to the promise of the first one. And it’s not just fantasy but also thrillers which are heavily influenced by religious themes. I wish people would stop trying to write the Indian DaVinci Code.
PS: Maybe we just need to break free in our thinking. It is strange that even the super heroes written about these days are mythology based. Thinking out of the box set of the Ramayana and Mahabharata might help. Enough, already people!  Do some world building for a change.


2 thoughts on “Fantasy is a Myth

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