Tag Archives: Mythology

Why mythology sells in India

This blog post seems to have been written in a hurry, but it raises a very interesting question: why are Indians so obsessed with its mythological stories and why these stories are being told and retold in various forms?

First, I don’t think Indians are obsessed with mythology; many Indians are obsessed with religion and this somehow gets interconnected with the mythological stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata and second, to be frank, these stories are awesome. You can derive hundreds of stories, without even changing them, from just Ramayana and Mahabharata, leave alone other tales.

Regarding why they are being rewritten, I agree that originality lacks in the current milieu, and this is not just applicable to rewriting mythological literature. Classic Bollywood songs are remixed on a routine basis and even if they try to be original, they’re mostly mimicking sufi and folk music.

This lack of effort and originality has also permeated writing. It’s easier to tell a tale that already exists and people can relate to.

Mythological stories that have been a part of our culture have this strange effect: even if you listen to them or read them again and again, somehow you never find them boring. This may also be because mythological stories are rarely enjoyed in isolation. Millions of people, you’re consciously or unconsciously aware, have read these stories or one or another form of them. So there is an invisible connection with a large mass when you are reading these stories. You feel a part of a group, a part of a cult. Add a new writing style, some contextual twists and there you have got it, practically a new piece to sell to your readers.

Besides, very few countries have such a rich tapestry of mythological stories that don’t just deliver religious messages, but also teach you morality and human values, and are replete with heroism that everybody can relate to. For example, in Mahabharata it is sometimes very difficult to decide who is a hero and who is a villain; every sort of conflict you can find in its various plots. The line that divides good and evil is constantly being blurred. Ramayana, comparatively, has clear definitions of right and wrong, but on every occasion it teaches you how to take difficult decisions even when you don’t want to take them.

There is also an underlying effort to reconnect with one’s roots in India. The Indian culture is being attacked from the outside and from within and the younger generation, clueless about how to react, tries to cling to these stories as a defence mechanism.