Missing ends in the treatment of folktales in today’s writing

How many of today’s writers are able to travel back to their roots in the wild, rustic corners of India where our ancestors lived, loved, toiled, sang together, and set the tradition rolling of story-telling through immortal folktales? There appears to be a strong disconnect in today’s panther writers who are maddened by the runaway success of their campus and corporate novels. The latest trends are good for the culture of book-reading they have imbibed in the corporate and city people. And we must acknowledge their contribution. Especially I would like to extend my deepest regards to them.

But since the tastes have taken a sharp turn in terms of language preference—with people in cities fast getting akin to Indianised English—, it is urgently required that the author community goes back and does an urgent drill to identify the cultural roots, see the modern value in the folk culture which is persistent in our ethnic corners and try to “package” it in the modern stories. My apologies for using the word “package”. But it is how the modern writing world presents itself in different genres. Stories are packaged to a class, to a group. And thankfully there’s in many cases a Mexican wave effect of euphoria. However, it is not the discussion point today.

A long tradition of folktales and folklore persists in rural India. Folktales in the states like Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Kerala, Maharashtra and UP are very well told even today. A number of authors have shouldered the responsibility relying on the traditional platforms. There are books on ethnic writing, folklore, folktales of different states. Many of them have been translated into English. But they lack the modern flavour which our new authors can be capable of, if they move out of their city apartments and try to see the modern value in them.

At the same time, we should stop branding the folktale and folkloric literature as tribal as often done. It classifies them. When the term ‘tribal‘ is applied, it sets them in set of frame which is not part of the fast-paced world that we live and breathe in. More because the term in some sense is related to backwardness, which in many ways means lack of civilisation. Whereas most of us know, many of the tribes in India are far more cultured than our city dudes and babes.

Indeed, the folkloric voices need to sing in our city stories—novels, short-stories and TV entertainment. On silver-screen, we’ve often seen them but again propagating their backwardness or in scenes of amusements and more third-grade comic situations—e.g. zinga la-la. Well, using a situation to evoke laughter is good. But it should not undermine the strength of the seriousness in the tradition the tribal people have lived.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s