By Aneesha Puri
As the world is abuzz with excitement and gears up for the fourth season of Game Of Thrones, an American fantasy drama television series created for HBO by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, based on the adaptation of George R.R Martin’s fantasy epic series- A Song Of Ice And Fire, one cannot help but compare the encyclopedic range of issues it foregrounds and that too endowed with such radical and subversive potential, to the dismal scenario of the mainstream Indian television series. But lest we should get trapped in the vicious cycle of scheming in-laws and a perfectly structured Manichean world of white and black symbolically representing “good” and “bad” of Indian TV soap operas, let’s see what makes Game of Thrones worth the hype and hoopla surrounding it.
Through its morally ambiguous characters and powerfully compelling storyline, the series explores with remarkable insight the complicated issues of religion and atheism, loyalty and betrayal, corruption and conformism, marriage and sex, civil war, crime and punishment, social order and chaos, political consolidation and raging anarchy without oversimplifying them. The narrative ruthlessly re-works the finer nuances of what is normatively exalted as “Good” and dismissed as “Bad”. Game of Thrones illustrates a trend of super successful screen adaptations, beginning with Peter Jackson‘s 2001 The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and continuing with the Harry Potter films, that have established fantasy as a mainstream genre which is impeccably amenable to striking a balance between the serious and the comic, between the politics and the dragons and also capable of providing a form of escapism into a world far beyond. But what makes this escapism loaded with an edgy dimension is that even in the world of fantasy, the viewer is increasingly brought face to face with the issues of the “Real” world. In fact fantasy as a genre despite the flight of imagination it promises, is often nothing but a re-working of reality from a different perspective.
Game Of Thrones throws questions without speculating on the possibility of fixed answers. Where does power reside? Is political peace premised on suppression of public dissent? Does sex really drive the world? Who decides what is sinful and pleasurable ? The series has effectively blurred the line between the conventional conceptualisation of what is perceived as “Real” and “Fantasy”. The unpredictability quotient of the series mirrors “Real” life as we know it and constantly and consistently keeps us on tenterhooks and almost forces us to re-question the moral universe we blindly inhabit. And this is more than true for Game Of Thrones than the other fantasy series because it is constantly trying to drive home the point that life is not a fairytale, that “happily ever after” is SO “once upon a time”.
Aneesha Puri is pursuing her Masters in English Literature from Miranda House. A self-confessed book- ravisher , keen surveyor of society and its ideological politics, loves deconstructing and decoding anything and everything that even remotely concerns people, ranging from celebrated, canonical literary texts to popular cinema and advertisements. Her idea of utopia is a truly emancipated world which allows everyone, unfettered freedom to foster his/ her potential to the maximum.