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5 authors who have given Indian mythology a modern twist

Literary works based on or adapted from mythology have gradually tapped into the best selling lists. Mythological thrillers have become a genre in itself, with more and more writers giving wings, and words, to their imaginations.

Shreya Thapliyal | New Delhi |

For most of the households in India, there was a time when sitting in front of the television and watching Mahabharata, Ramayana and any other retelling of mythological stories was almost like a family ritual.

The valour of the leads, the beauty of the female protagonists, the larger-than-life persona and elegance of how they held themselves were enough to make anyone swoon.

The tales were told through generations – almost hypnotising the children who would hold on to every word like the absolute truth weaving a world of their own and always imagining themselves as the leads. The main reason for the popularity of mythological stories was because they offered something for everyone.

Perhaps, for all these reasons and more, literary works based on or adapted from mythology have gradually tapped into the best selling lists. Mythological thrillers have become a genre in itself, with more and more writers giving wings, and words, to their imaginations. They are written in simple language and are for all to understand.

Here are the top five mythology writers who are making it big.

• Dr Devdutt Pattanaik

Perhaps the most well-known writer of mythology, Dr Pattanaik is extremely famous for combining traditional ideas with the modern world. His works are known for being well-researched and for showing the age-old tales in a new light.

He was still working in the pharma and healthcare industry when he started writing articles about mythology. Pattanaik finally quit his job to take up writing as a full-time profession. He also does most of the illustrations for his books.

The most famous works include Myth = Mithya, Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata and Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana. His two TV shows, Business Sutra and Shastraarth, are about drawing inspirations for business ideas from Indian epics.

• Kavita Kane

A favourite among women readers, Kavita Kane writes about the forgotten female characters of the great Indian epics. Her stories are famous for retelling the tales through the point of view of women, thus giving a much-needed insight into the life and aspirations of female characters.

Her works include Karna’s Wife: The outcast queen; Sita’s Sister; Menaka’s Choice; and Lanka’s Princess. These books tell the same old tales of good and evil, love and rivalry but from a different point of view. Her books are known for shedding light on the views of the female characters and the way they saw the world. Her books are a must-read for anyone who wants to know about the treatment of women in those times.

• Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 

Another famous mythological author, Chitra B Divakaruni is a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Houston. Her novel, A Palace of Illusions, retells the story of Mahabharata from Draupadi’s point of view.

The novel is known for portraying Draupadi as a real human being with feelings and ambitions and not merely as a naïve princess. Divakaruni has written numerous works in different genres and is the recipient of many awards like The American Book award and Pushcart Prize.

• Amish Tripathi 

Amish Tripathi is famous for the Shiva Trilogy. Leaving his job in financial services, Tripathi decided to become a full-time writer. His trilogy on Shiva focuses on a man’s journey and how his legend turned him into a God.

The book is based primarily on the idea that gods were human beings first and their actions elevated them to that position. His books are famous for combining myths with fiction and for creating a new world for the same. He is a recipient of many awards including Raymond Crossword Popular Fiction award. He was also considered to be India’s first Literary Pop star in the year 2015.

• Ashwin Sanghi

Widely regarded as one of India’s best-selling conspiracy-fiction writers, Ashwin Sanghi is known for combining history, theology and mythology for his works.

Often compared to Dan Brown, Sanghi is a conspiracy fiction writer. His books like The Krishna Key and Rozabal Line are acclaimed critically and remain popular in terms of sales. He has also co-authored the Private series with James Patterson, a popular American author. He won the Vodafone-Crossword Popular Choice Award in 2010 for his book Chanakya’s Chant.