Writer and National Award winning filmmaker, Trisha Das, has unveiled a sequel to her 2016 stellar hit, Ms Draupadi Kuru (Publisher: Harper Collins) a comedy take on the classic mythology story of Draupadi set in modern day Delhi, where Draupadi is bored of heaven and finds herself on earth.
The sequel book, titled, Misters Kuru, sees Draupadi and her gang well settled in their new Kalyug, and now the Pandavas pay them a surprise visit, leaving the reader in more laughter and tears. Meanwhile, Ms Draupadi Kuru, is set to become a major motion picture. Excerpts:
Tell us about your new book.
This new novel features the Pandava brothers following Draupadi and Kunti from heaven into modern-day Delhi. For a few of the brothers, it gives them a second chance to do something that doesn’t include their brothers, evil cousins or the destiny of the entire kingdom.
They find a new purpose. Their relationships are tested, a lot of history is rehashed and some of the 'plot-holes' in the Mahabharata are filled in. Plus, Draupadi, who is well-established in her second life, falls in love with one of her exhusbands and this time, she doesn’t have to marry all of them. So, the two books basically pick up from where the Mahabharata left off.
What led you to set the characters in New Delhi?
The area around the Purana Qila is said to be the original site of Indraprastha, the capital of the Pandavas kingdom. Excavations show an ancient development underneath the ruins, and the terrain would have been very similar to what was described in the Mahabharata.
Indraprastha is where the Pandavas and Draupadi were the happiest. In Ms Draupadi Kuru, when Narad Muni asks Draupadi where she would like to go in the mortal world, Draupadi chooses Indraprastha for that reason. The other reason I chose Delhi is because it provides a perfect juxtaposition to the past.
I wanted to showcase how much had changed and yet how much has stayed the same from ancient times. Finally, I chose Delhi because I have l ived there and know it well. In a fantasy book, a realistic setting provides contrast and an anchor for the reader.
Could you talk to us about your process of recreating mythological characters?
When reading the Mahabharata translations, it’s important to read between the lines. A lot of points are disguised within flowery monologues and descriptions; a lot of questionable actions are justified or washed over by references to dharma or karma.
That's because of the introduction of religious attributes to it over thousands of years. Yet, the meat of the story more or less stays the same and no amount of white-washing can change it. So, I decided to strip away the excess fat and focus on the meat of the story instead. Judge the characters by their actions, personalities and attribute typical human emotions to them.
Draupadi, for instance, went through so much in her life and showed so much anger in the Mahabharata. I made her into a regular woman whose personality had been shaped by those experiences. I did the same for the Pandavas recreated them as individuals with personalities and human emotions rather than God-like paragons.
Which character was the most difficult to recreate and why?
A lot has been said about Yudhishtra, Bhima, Arjuna and Draupadi, but the poor twins, Nakula and Sahadeva, are kind of epic sidekicks. Delving into their personalities by starting with the death of their parents to them becoming kings after Kurukshetra, was the most challenging because I didn't have a lot to work with. Most of the references to their personalities in the Mahabharata harp on about the same traits and frankly, being good with animals isn't a lot of information to go on.