Mahabharata and its Modern Renderings in Fiction, Drama and Film

Home/ Mahabharata and its Modern Renderings in Fiction, Drama and Film
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline CoreSUS1EN2624

Semester and Year Offered: Semester VI, Winter Semester

Course Coordinator: Dr. Bhoomika Meiling

Email of course coordinator: Bhoomika[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

Mahabharata has excited the Indian literary imagination since times immemorial. Abundant classical and folk renderings of this epic in different genres have historically shaped the Indian way of thinking about and interpreting texts. In order to acknowledge the web of cultural and literary texts woven around themes from Mahabharata, this course brings together select modern renderings of the epic to the classroom for critical analysis. The larger objective of the course is to acquaint the students with Mahabharata and the possibilities it offers for adaptation. The course seeks to investigate whether a change in genre imposes limits or provides freedom to the viewer/reader in interpreting the epic. It will also probe into the respective political, social, religious and cultural milieus in which each of the adaptations emerged. The chief objective of the course is to introduce the students to the kaleidoscopic world of modern adaptations and interpretations of Mahabharata and to enable them to appreciate the diversity of views which exists in the literary and cultural domains on this issue..

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: The Epic- The epic of Mahabharata will be introduced to the students in this module. A summary of the epic itself will be examined and discussed in class to introduce the basic story and to discuss the most significant questions that the epic raises which are later taken up in the renderings.

Primary Readings:

Mahabharata, C. Rajgopalachari

Module 2: Mahabharata in Modern Fiction- Reworking of the epic in fiction will be discussed in this module through two renderings, one novel and the other a short story, which revisit the story of Draupadi.

Primary Readings:

  • Yajnaseni (1991), Pratibha Ray
  • “Draupadi” (1987), Mahasweta Devi
  • Secondary Reading:
  • Yuganta, Iravati Karve

Module 3: Mahabharata in Modern Drama- This module will cover renderings of the epic story in drama. While with Yayati, the students will be encouraged to investigate the pre-war stories of the epic, with Andha Yug, a discussion of the consequences of war will be taken up.

Primary Readings:

  • Andha Yug (1954), Dharamvir Bharati
  • Yayati (1961), Girish Karnad

Module 4: Mahabharata in Film- Different kinds of films have experimented with the theme of the epic. Some of these will be taken up for detailed discussions. Students are expected to make presentations on other cinematic adaptations of the epic.

Primary Readings:

  • Hum Paanch (1980), Bapu
  • Kalyug (1981), Shyam Benegal
  • Selections from The Mahabharata (1989), Peter Brook
  • Selections from the TV series Mahabharat (1988), B.R. Chopra

Tentative Assessment schedule with details of weightage: 



Date/period in which Assessment will take place



Class test

End of January/Early February



Mid Semester Exam

Mid- March




End of March/ First week of April



Class test

Mid- April



End Semester Exam

End of April