Novelists in India are wonderful when it comes to extracting fiction out of anything, literally anything and almost everything. There is nothing in the world that cannot give a novel to our talented Indian authors if they have decided to write one, any time and any day of the year. Be it one’s relationship with his wife or one’s conundrum about being in love or not, there is a novel ready before you could understand what happened when you blinked your eyes just for a second or two. Nevertheless, these romantic novelists mostly, who carve their fiction on very simple personal relations or just nothing, are not the problems. The real culprit are the people who write historical or mythological or religious fiction based on our epics but distort it to the extent that becomes a problem. When does it happen? Well, many times!
Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel, perhaps, led this cavalry of cowards who attack the scriptures and beliefs of only one religion in the name of fiction writing. From there, it was a one-sided battle where the attackers were constantly attacking and the fighters on this side were standing silently with their shields being tortured to the zenith. They did not stop and this side did not attack, just defended. It became extremely implicating, inflicting and absurd when authors like Amish jumped into the scene with their fiction that completely concocted the tales from the past according to their own will and ideas and harmed the system very badly, rather obnoxiously.
However, the novels that have made it very difficult for the readers to digest fiction in them are very few, to a severe extent, and I will name two most important or notorious among them. One is The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Asura: Tale of the Vanquished by Ananda Neelakantan. These two novels are absurd from whichever angle you read them. They don’t only misrepresent but also, almost, abuse the source on which these works are based. One is based on Mahabharat and another is based on Ramayan. However, on tends to abuse the epic by making a confused heroine out of Draupadi and another forces Ram to stand in the witness box and justify his stand for killing the Asur, the Adham, the savage and rapist Ravan. Are we really out of our minds?
Though I agree that freedom should prevail and the novelists in India should have the freedom to write whatever they want, let us also be very much aware that the novelists are banned and also exiled out of the country just because they try to present a few other religions in a bad light. So, the question is, is freedom of speech one-way traffic that only leads to defaming Hindu scriptures and putting unnecessary perspectives in those epics even if there is no space? We will have to think about these things seriously and now is the time that the double standards on Indian historical fiction writing should be clarified. Otherwise, it is a confusing state of happenings that is not soothing people any more!
By a contributor for Books to Read book reviews blog