ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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On the Trail of the Mahabharata-A Response

On the Trail of the Mahabharata A Response Janaky SUDDHABRATA SEN GUPTA has critically examined the television serialisation of the twin epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata [EPW, November 9, 1991] by contextuaiising the productions in the communally surcharged Indian political atmosphere. During times of political turmoil these epics have been central sites for redefining ethical and moral codes, for consolidation of identities and political allegiances; and these epics have been used simultaneously by contesting groups to validate their mutually contradictory positions. Sen historiciscs the interpretation of the epics on the television as a part of the larger contemporary project of foregrounding 'Hindu' identity as the 'Indian' identity; the serials functioning as props to the homogenising 'Hindutva' ideology. Sen condemns this harnessing of epic material to the needs of a fasctstic purpose which he says has brought about a cultural identification with patriarchy. And the ultimate casualty is woman or gender relations. Even while mentioning that the serial adheres to the gender bias in the 'original' text. Sen further in the article lauds the rebellious potential of Draupadi and Sita in, once again, the 'original' texts; Sen rebukes the serial for effecting an aesthetic damage to these women by standardising them into 'pativratas'.

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