An epic decode

Indian epics are celebrated for the timeless wealth of wisdom and values they encompass.

author_img Vaishali Vijaykumar Published :  05th February 2022 12:51 PM   |   Published :   |  05th February 2022 12:51 PM
For tickets and details, visit: tikkl.com/aalaap

For tickets and details, visit: tikkl.com/aalaap

Indian epics are celebrated for the timeless wealth of wisdom and values they encompass. Stepping aside from this archaic approach, what if we explored them from the contemporary lens? For, you could be exposed to a refreshing perspective, which is far from the ideal representation that the epics have projected of its characters for centuries. That’s what Aalaap’s The Epic Project, in collaboration with storyteller-cum-artist Vinay Varanasi, promises to do. Its 11-month storytelling series hopes to help us take a deep dive into finding how contemporary conversations find expression in the epics.

Lessons from legends
Each two-hour episode will discuss how relevant themes of today can be traced to the epics and how everyday problems were dealt with, regardless of the timeline. Akhila Krishnamurthy from Aalaap explains, “The point is not to lean towards any specific ideology but help people introspect and reflect to become sensitive thinkers and empathetic individuals. We have topics like emotional quotient, women on the fringe, relationships…these are areas that concern the modern world. How different could the circumstances have been back then? Besides imparting knowledge and reiterating to look at life positively, there’s more to what the characters in the epics have to offer. Vinay will decode them insightfully.”

For the sessions, Vinay has predominantly taken references from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavatham. “Anybody can be an interpreter of mythology and Puranic knowledge. But the core purpose is that it needs to be an authentic interpretation. One of our topics, women on the fringe, will address women characters from the epics who were sidelined in the mainstream narrative, the misconceptions we have around women and the patriarchal narratives we have superimposed. By peeling all these layers, we can bust many misinterpretations that we hold to date,” he details.

The mythological characters too displayed and experienced a host of emotions, and Vinay hopes to make them relatable to the present generation. “There are several situations in our own lives that get mirrored in the epics. On the topic of relationships, we will be throwing light on the many kinds of bondings in the epics and how they changed over time. The one on antagonists will show the other side of villains in the epics. Topics like Bhakti will help people in their spiritual journey towards self-discovery; the one on ‘Pashu’ is about flora, fauna and the importance of nature; the one on rituals is on the many traditions we follow and their significance… We’ll be glad if these sessions help us become a better version of ourselves and embrace imperfections,” notes Vinay.

On the traditional route
The first episode on emotional quotient will be out on February 19. “It will explore how characters from the epics used emotional intelligence to understand, use, and manage their own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. This will be relevant even today and help us navigate tough situations with confidence. Besides this, various aspects of mental health will also be addressed in subtler contexts. Perhaps, it will help us keep a check on our moral compass and tune it effectively,” he says.

Every session will have a curtain raiser in the backdrop of the topic. “The idea is to invite a performing artiste to hang out with Vinay and discuss excerpts from the epics using music, dance and storytelling as inspirations. We’ve done storytelling in the past and it’s always been an interactive, immersive experience for people to take a break from the mundane world. There’s a lot to take away. Vinay’s style of narration is equally deep and accessible. He communicates the idea in layperson’s terms to keep it easy and enriching. These are not stories to be forgotten, but to be carried with you for the rest of your life,” says Akhila.

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