Friday, January 6, 2012

Stories Affirming the Ordinary, Mainstream, Middle-Class Indians

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.




  1. A beautiful Ted talk reinforcing the point

  2. You are right. India is changing and we should acknowledge the change especially in the social context. But we like to glorify the past with all the warts and films celebrating the downside of the country win Oscars.

  3. It was the "Oscars" not too long ago. But I see the trend changing. Indians have started writing for Indians and if the English speaking world like their stories, that's a bonus.

  4. Hey, you've been awarded!! Check it out on my blog - I'm not able to link it here for some reason :)

  5. Oh that's flattering. What a very lovely New Year's gift. Thanks a bunch P&p. Here's the link to your very kind words about my blog and about "The Liebster Awards"

  6. aah!! loved it as usual...and your second comment!! wow!! With Chetan Bhagat even i started feeling the my little library has all his books besides loads of other authors :) ... i am glad this change happened in my lifetime!!!

  7. Flying High - you ought to change your name to "Flying High and Getting Others to Soar With Me" :))). Thanks.

  8. India is changing and so are the Indian books especially the new metro reads coming up

  9. Exciting times ahead. Thanks for your comment PS and welcome to the blog.

  10. I have noticed this change too....The reader profile has changed...more urban, metro centric, young professionals are buying books now.

    1. That has such a lovely sound to it, Alka - "Young Professionals" - kind of efficient, yet vulnerable. More power to them too!