Kerala

After Bheema, Duryodhana speaks through tweets

Chindu Sreedharan

Chindu Sreedharan  

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A work in progress on Twitter gives the Kaurava king’s version of the epic

In Twitter Age, the trick lies in the tweet. In 2009, Chindu Sreedharan undertook a seemingly impossible task: The re-telling of the Mahabharata from the perspective of Bheema - through tweets.

‘Epic Retold,’ a full-length novel in size, came out in a string of tweets. But then, what’s Bheema without Duryodhana?

Ten years down the line, Mr. Sreedharan, Principal Academic in Journalism and Communication, Bournemouth University, England, has embarked on an equally daunting project - presenting Duryodhana through tweets.

The first five chapters of ‘Autobiography of a Villain: Duryodhana’s Story,’ are available on https://twitter.com/epicretold. The idea is to complete the novella-length work in 18 chapters at the rate of one chapter a day, said Mr. Sreedharan, who hails from Pala, and has worked as a journalist in New Delhi, Mumbai, and New York.

Unlike Bheema, Duryodhana offers challenges of a different kind. The conventional Duryodhana is villain incarnate, perennially plotting with his brothers and wily uncle Shakuni to annihilate the Pandavas at every twist and turn in the epic tale.

Heroic Duryodhana

In his work, Mr. Sreedharan attempts to look at the Kaurava prince differently. Villainy aside, Duryodhana can be heroic and magnanimous on occasion, as revealed in the Mahabharata. It was this adamant Kaurava who stood up for Karna during the coming-of-age arms display.

Again, after the Kurukshetra battle, when Yudhishtira invites him to choose any of the Pandavas for the deadly mace duel, Duryodhana chooses mighty Bheema when he could have easily defeated any of the weaker brothers.

Mr. Sreedharan says he found Duryodhana to be an extremely fascinating character - ‘the other side of the coin.’

“You cannot talk about Bheema without talking about Duryodhana. Besides, people have always been interested in the counter-narrative. What I have tried to do is take a few of the key scenes and then allow the reader to connect the dots,” he said.

Fit for Twitter

The real challenge, of course, lay in condensing the story for Twitter. “Twitter is known for its brevity. But in 2009 when I started on ‘Epic Retold,’ tweets were restricted to 140 characters. Now they have increased it to 280. That gives me more creative freedom,” Mr. Sreedharan said.

Between 2009 and 2019, Twitter has evolved phenomenally, a fact that has pluses and minuses for Twitter literature.

‘More noise today’

“In 2009, it was a novel phenomenon. There’s a lot more ‘noise’ today. There are more people involved. Twitter was also not so political back then,” says Mr. Sreedharan.

Mr. Sreedharan has been a resident of Bournemouth, a coastal town in the south of England, since 2003.

Mr. Sreedharan, who is also a former competitive ballroom dancer, is married to Svetlana Urupina.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:46:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/after-bheema-duryodhana-speaks-through-tweets/article30132322.ece

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