Ancient Indian epic to be retold on Twitter from villain's viewpoint

Mon Feb 9, 2015 11:51pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Tony Tharakan

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A lecturer based in Britain has reimagined an ancient Indian epic for Twitter audiences, spawning a book and spurring a second attempt, this time from the perspective of the main villain.

Chindu Sreedharan began retelling the Mahabharata on the microblogging service in 2009, taking more than four years and nearly 2,700 tweets to finish "Epic Retold", published in December as a book billed as India's first Twitter fiction.

The ancient Sanskrit epic, one of Hinduism's crucial texts built of around 100,000 couplets, tells of a dynastic struggle for power and a cataclysmic war won by the righteous Pandava brothers. Sreedharan's Twitter version is told from the point of view of Bhima, the strongest of the five Pandava warriors.

Now the 41-year-old academic is reading up on Bhima's cousin Duryodhana to present a shorter Twitter narrative from his point of view, turning the antagonist into an anti-hero.

"It's going to be challenging to write Duryodhana too, but there's a quick end in sight," Sreedharan told Reuters in an e-mail interview from Bournemouth, where he teaches journalism.

"I know where it will start and how it will end, much more clearly than when I began Epic Retold."

Such is the appeal of the Mahabharata that when it was first adapted for television in the 1980s, city streets emptied out on Sunday mornings, with most Indians glued to their TV sets.

Even today, politicians fighting election campaigns often identify themselves with one of the heroic Pandava siblings, while characterizing opponents as Duryodhana or one of his 99 depraved Kaurava brothers.   Continued...