A brand new sequence by Chennai-based historical past buff Prathik Murali and The BS Labz brings alive uncommon Indian folks tales from the 1900s in comedian kind
Again within the Eighties, by the Amira Kadal Bridge in Srinagar, a barber who glided by the title of Qadir, sat with missionary Reverend James Hinton Knowles. He was to inform him the story of the great king ‘Hatam’, as Knowles took copious notes for his e book, Folks Tales of Kashmir.
13 many years later, when the world stayed house owing to a pandemic, a later version of the e book discovered itself within the arms of Prathik Murali. The Chennai-based historical past buff, together with design company The BS Labz, has been compiling 10 folks tales from throughout the hinterlands of India within the type of illustrated comics. The primary on this sequence, Veerasena’s 4 Ministers, is out as an e-book on Kindle, and has been illustrated by artist Jeevanathan from Coimbatore.
Prathik’s fascination for Indian folklore grew deeper throughout a visit to Meghalaya. “I criss-crossed cities from Shillong proper till the Bangladesh border in Dawki. I found how central folklore is to the Khasi group,” he says, recounting a narrative he had heard of U Biskurom, God’s assistant who had come all the way down to Earth to show human beings the craft of instruments, solely to be upset by their greed.
Prathik quickly stop his profession within the subject of accounting and is at present pursuing an MA in Historic Research and a course in Manuscriptology from Bangalore College.
He threw himself into researching extra such folktales — oral tales, handed down for generations, that somebody by some means had documented for posterity. It was right here that William Crooke’s work got here in useful. Crooke’s books revolve across the ethnology and folklore of India, in an try to higher govern and perceive the tribes and provinces after the Revolt of 1857. A lot of them at the moment are out of print.
“I met Prathik at a chat in Palavakkam in March, and we rapidly bought to discussing the tales he had stumbled upon,” says Santhosh Subramanian, head of The BS Labz. “The primary thought I had was that these are like a kids’s model of Murakami, the place you don’t know what’s going to occur subsequent.”
Santhosh provides that regardless of the large selection accessible they wished to pick out solely people who have been progressive, and with none non secular connotations. “A few of the documented tales have been regressive in the way in which they have been handled. We wished to adapt them for right this moment’s occasions the place nobody specific being is seemed down upon or proven to be superior to a different,” he says.
Expands Prathik, “For instance, lots of them might have values we don’t wish to propagate, similar to patriarchy. On the identical time we don’t wish to modify to such an extent that we lose its originality. So as an alternative, we attempt to choose tales rigorously.”
Tales which have made the minimize are filled with magic. In Kashmir, prince Gulzar saves, and is saved by, a hooded snake and a velvety cat. Within the banks of Assam, a Singara fish defeats a monster and brings wealth and prosperity. The primary to be printed, Veerasena’s 4 Ministers, is from Maharashtra; a well-recognized story of a king outsmarted by his ministers. (Feels like a sure Tenali Rama?)
“India has a wealthy custom of storytelling. Like Jataka Tales, Panchatantra… They’re nicely documented with robust Buddhist and Sanskrit classical roots respectively,” says Prathik. However many different folks tales, handed down orally, may very nicely be misplaced in time. These are those the duo is making an attempt to deliver alive.
Veerasena’s 4 Ministers is offered on Amazon at ₹69.