Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Many Mahabharatas : linking mythic re-tellings in contemporary India
Author: Sharma, Chinmay
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 5611
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2017
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
The 'Many Ramayanas' paradigm has argued for decentering the Sanskrit Ramayana, suggesting that the Sanskrit text(s) are rarely the first point of engagement with the narrative for large portions of the audience (A.K. Ramanujan, 1999). Drawing upon this paradigm, my thesis analyzes and compares the specific networks of production, circulation and influence that exist between different contemporary Mahabharata re-tellings and their cultural milieus. The thesis seeks to understand the re-tellings conjuncturally - the formal choices that each retelling makes and why, their articulation given the resources available and new demands, the relation of the re-tellings produced after liberalization to older ones, and the position of each in their respective cultural field. The thesis argues that to understand the ways and forms in which the Mahabahrata narrative circulates today, we must excavate and foreground the retellings, their multiple aesthetics, and their networks of production and circulation. In particular, the thesis focuses on specific fields - television, modern Indian theatre and poetry, and Hindi and English fiction and publishing. Chapter 1 argues that while there was a correlation between the rise of the Hindu Right and 1988 Mahabharata television serial (Arvind Rajagopal 2003), the serial drew extensively from already popular aesthetics of Hindi films and popular visual art, and created and instituted a mythological aesthetic for Indian television. Chapter 2 focuses on modern Indian theatre and poetry, which eschewed commercialism, took greater liberties to experiment, and carved out a cultural niche through official canonisation and historic and repeat performances. Chapter 3 deals with popular English abridged translations, arguing that these were specifically meant to 'teach' Indian culture to supposedly deracinated Indian readers and international readers. Deceptively simple, their narrative tends to iron out the problematic episodes from the epic. Chapter 4 charts the new wave of mythological fiction in Indian English literature that has followed the liberalisation of the economy and the growth of Indian English book publishing and market. Chapter 5 turns towards the mythological novel in Hindi, arguing that the pauranik upanyas carves a separate aesthetic niche for itself from Hindi mythological verse, drama and television by re-telling the mythological through psychological realism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral