There was a time, not too long ago, when a huge number of Indian authors wrote stories about people living on the edge of society, extreme poverty, degradation, male chauvinism, rampant corruption, bribery, superstition, religious extremism and courage in the face of all the above. Such themes were popular in India and abroad. In fact, they still very much are.
But now, there is another genre that is seeing the light of day. More and more Indian authors have started writing to celebrate and affirm the ordinary, mainstream, middle-class Indians. It is taking some people who haven't seen India in all her colours a bit longer than others to accept this change.
Indian authors today, more than ever before, write about the carefree and lighthearted years of college, friendship, young love, secular Indians, strong and independent women, loving and thoughtful family men...
The Indian publishing industry is flourishing as never before. Until the 90s, it didn't exist. I know because I
searched the net for Indian publishers and could hardly, and with great
difficulty, find a handful. Our only option was to try and break into
the western market. So many authors tried writing stories that appealed
to westerners. Take, for example, stories about the Indian middle class.
Such few existed. Stories of poverty, degradation and people on the
edge of society were more readily available.
Now the industry is
blossoming - amongst the most successful today - and every genre is
being explored. The target audience is the Indian reader. Other readers are a bonus.
This is thanks to an undeniably bold move by Rupa publishers in taking on Chetan Bhagat's first book.
Established publishers realised they'd have to give up their traditional
way of thinking as a huge Indian readership was thirsting to read
something they could relate to. By the early 2000s, Indian publishers
started mushrooming at lightening speed to keep up with supply - stories from
new Indian authors, and demand - an ever increasing Indian readership.
The best thing,
as far as I'm concerned, is that affirming and celebrating the ordinary, mainstream, middle-class Indians
alongside stories of extreme poverty, male chauvinism and superstition
helps to give a more fully rounded picture of India as she really is - in all her complexities.
MORE POWER TO THE INDIAN PEN!