Oh Nari, So Sanskari! is a satirical take on stories of women from the great Indian epic Mahabharata. Illustrated by Annushka Hardikar, a recent graduate in Visual Communication from Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, this her impression on female characters of Mahabharata in the modern context.
“The zine sheds light on challenges that 21st century Indian women face, by placing Kunti, Gandhari and Draupadi in a modern context. On re-visiting the stories from the epic, I realized, although dynamic and capable, the women in the story were always shown dependent on the men in their lives. Being an Indian woman myself, there was a pressing need for accurate representation of the characters as aware, vocal, and opinionated.”
Using references from feminist history, pop culture and media, the zine comments upon stereotypes that have surrounded Indian women from time immemorial. “As a designer my main motive behind creating the zine was to be able to change the way we tell our stories. Using a bold illustration style with a heavy pop art influence and true-to-life stories and references, I would want the reader to be left questioning the roles and expectations of our culturally rooted society.”
Many young female artists are experimenting with new ideas and graphics and even digital art to push boundaries. At the same time they are finding inspiration in their history, mythology to explore how to renew our understanding of gender conversations. “Hopefully the zine inspires young girls to believe Indian women are more than the roles they have been cast into, and pushes them to break the norm and create their own identities.”