Right from childhood days, most of us have grown up with stories of prince and princess’, of kings and queens, of fairies and witches and of God and his magical ways – of casting spells, swishing wand, riding dragons and brooms, and zipping-n-zapping people in to animals and vice versa. Most of us grew up reading (or listening to) stories from the desk of Enid Blyton, L. Frank Baum, Terry Pratchett, Rick Riordan and the like.
The mystical land was left open for us (readers and listeners) to explore and at times, create.
We were free to mold places, people, settings, ideologies, laws. We could defy any notion; make our own Universe; have a tryst with fate as per will; and for all that you know- be a hero…correction- Super Hero!
Writing Fantasy –Fiction gives the author the levy to create just about anything anyhow anywhere.
I don’t know if many remember Margaret Bhatty – Indian writer of adventure, fantasy and science fiction, short stories, and picture books. She penned quite a few fantasy-fiction tomes besides one science fiction and some adventure fiction novels. (Kingdom of No Return, Himalayan Adventure, The Mystery of the Zamorin’s Treasure, The Secret of Sickle-Moon Mountain, Travelling Companions, The Never- Never Bird, The Evil Empire, etc.)
But of late, why is it that we have to bank on the wizards and fun of Pottermania, the mystics of the Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings), survive Twilights and save the world with just the X-Men?
It’s not surprising that Indian readers who enjoy fantasy fiction opt more for established Western authors than their Indian counterparts.
Let’s not forget, this is the land of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. This is the land with a host of mythological and super powerful fictional characters of the fantasy world. Then why are there only a handful of Indian fantasy writers who are able to rekindle the lost interest?
Samit Basu who has authored five novels: The Simoqin Prophecies, The Manticore’s Secret and The Unwaba Revelations, the three parts of The GameWorld Trilogy; a fantasy trilogy – Terror on the Titanic; and Turbulence, a superhero novel set in India, Pakistan and England.
Sonja Chandrachud- our ‘Desi Rowling’.
Sonja deftly brews up fantastical tales filled with magic, mayhem & mischief. The Potion of Eternity & Pearls of Wisdom are the first two novels in the much loved Hilarious Hauntings Adventures five book series. Her next YA series – DOA Detective Files takes you deep into ancient historical times where cryptic curses, mysterious murders.
Thankfully, mythology is another accessible avenue for plotting fantasy-fiction, since it establishes an immediate connect. Religious/Spiritual fiction is coming of age.
Mythological characters like Rama, Ravana, Arjuna, Jesus Christ, Lord Shiva, Ganesha and others from the great epics are becoming fodder for contemporary Indo-Anglian literature. Most writers find this a new way of looking at Indian culture to draw young readers.
Also, Indian spirituality and the concepts of reincarnation and past life regression, karma, etc. give it a new literary theme.
Amish Tripathi’s Immortals of Meluha (his first book in the series of the Shiva Trilogy), followed by The Secret Of The Nagas created waves in the world of Indian Fantasy Fiction writing.
The book shows Shiva as a tribal towards the beginning of the novel. He is the chief of a tribe residing by the side of Mansarovar Lake at the foot of mount Kailash in Tibet. But as the story progresses with the invasions and battles, Shiva emerges a hero. One of the highly acclaimed books of recent times, this one is a MUST read.
Ashwin Sanghi’s “The Rozabal Line” brings Gods back from their heavenly abodes to play action games on earth. And his other offering “Chanakya’s Chant” draws a parallel to the practices implemented during the reign of Chadragupt Maurya, in today’s time.
Angela Saini’s “Geek Nation” is a quest for the truth behind India’s ‘geekiness’. The plot revolves around space centres, gleaming technology hubs, and biotechnology labs, and juxtaposes them against anacient scripture libraries, rationalist societies and portals of public sector. Absolutely fine reading material.
And among young fantasy-fiction writers we see Giti Chandra coming out with her debut novel - Fang of Summoning, that has been described by critics as a fantasy novel in the same mould as Harry Potter. The novel is about a war between ancient good and evil; between Vasuki (the Indian snake king) and Edasich (the orange star in astronomy).
Rohit Prakash’s debut novel - Arindam and the Kalyug Debacle Premonition revolves around a young boy, Arindam. He is packed off to a boarding school by his parents but ends up in a mysterious land and entrusted with the mission to save the ‘the third world’, ‘the real world’ and ‘the land of the unknown’. The book surely ranks as one fantastic read.
Priya’s debut book Prophecy: The rise of the Swordshows Neha Sharma’s search for the last land of Atlantis leads her and Atlantologist Nick Halliday on the adventure of their lives. This one is based on the Greek mythology. Sounds like an interesting read.
Another good fantasy fiction writer is Payal Dhar. Her first offering was the hugely enjoyable and gripping – Shadow trilogy, and now she is back with the first of her new trilogy, Satin: A Stitch In Time.
Then there are a few new fiction tomes about to grace our bookshelves– The Ganesh Scripture by Alice Albina, The Golden Sacrifice of the Mahabharata by Maggi Lidchi Grassi and Kalika and Dimna: The Panchatantra Retold by Ramsay Wood use Ganesha, Vyasa, Arjuna and mythical demons to narrate gripping stories –but all by foreign authors.
Publishers too have recognized the growing demand in the fantasy-fiction category. They are entertaining new entrants of this genre. Possibilities are aplenty. It’s just the push that Indian writers need to explore this genre further more.