The World Of Indofuturism

Creators are weaving ancient mythology and contemporary issues into the fabric of India's future via Indofuturistic video games, sci-fi, music, and AI art

By :  Esha Lohia
Update: 2024-04-13 19:15 GMT
Antariksha Sanchar, a transmedia gaming project by Studio Antariksha

Imagine an India that was never colonised. A free land of diverse cultures that even aliens adapt to the Indian cuisines and wander around the lanes of the country. Quite absurd, right? Envisioning a future or a parallel universe through music, virtual reality, dance, video games etc is Indofuturism. It explores the convergence of past, present and future. Often depicted as a dystopian country in Western cinema, Indofuturism is beyond just a creative tool for the world to see India from a new lens. Priya Bandodkar (34), Manager at Deloitte Canada, wrote a thesis on Activating Indofuturism. It proposed an alternative future for India, wherein India was not colonised. She says, “Indofutu-rism is an avenue to satirise current issues and feel empowered by exploring hypothetical futures. It prompts retrospection, conversation, and a deeper understanding of the present and potential future paths.”

Futuristic Fusion

Video games have long been a playground for exploring fictional worlds and daring adventures. One of the pioneers in this genre, a video game studio, Antariksha’s transmedia gaming project Antariksha Sanchar, delves into the history and heritage of South India. The concept is inspired by the dream theorems of mathematician Rama-nujam and classical dancer Jayalakshmi Eshwar. The game features a memorable Indian classical soundtrack of Carnatic musicians and instrumentalists, including samples from the dance repertoire of Bharata-natyam dancer Jayalakshmi Eshwar. Her early work infused traditional dance with science fiction topics such as aeronautical inventions and space exploration which inspired the studio to bring the same intersection into their projects. Eshwar’s son, Avinash Kumar, co-founder of Studio Antariksha, says, “We incorporate elements of Indian culture and heritage into video games and worlds built inside digital platforms. It expresses our multicultural identity as Indians. It is also an ode to growing up in India in a time that has been intensely transformative in society.” The studio works towards multi-cultural heritage, free speech, and throwing light on underserved communities and planetary issues such as climate change organisation and digital harms in a future society.

Power of Music

Music has the power to transcend boundaries and evoke emotions. Indofuturist musicians are harnessing this power to create sonic landscapes that blend tradition with innovation. A live transmedia performance, Elsewhere In India, was premiered at Magnetic Fields Festival. Here, game engine technology merges with stunning art and genre-defying Carnatic electronic music. Avinash and his studio are working on post cyberpunk musical instruments which represent amazing design sensibility towards reimagining Indian musical heritage in futuristic compositions.

AI’s Futuristic Lens

Have you seen the Auzaaris, a migrant community of constructor cyborgs, presently living in Mumbai? Prateek Arora, Vice-President (Development), BANG BANG Mediacorp creates Indofuturistic AI art and has a huge following.

Arora believes Indofuturism is beyond just a creative movement. He says, “It serves as a valuable umbrella term that unifies a diverse array of creative expressions. With the advent of AI giving wings

to such vivid imaginations, Indofuturism gains global recognition and emerges as a trend. However, in India, it fosters a sense of participation in something larger than just storytelling. It's not just a creative movement, it is also a statement of intent, showcasing India's potential as a hub for innovative storytelling and identity formation on a global scale.” Ultimately, Indofuturism transcends storytelling, offering a unique perspective that can shape broader aspects of culture and identity worldwide.

Present into Future

Globally, Indofuturism is recognised as a significant emerging trend however, in India, its development is yet more personal. When moving to Canada, Priya was bugged by the security of women across the globe. Thus, inspired by the 'disrobing of Draupadi' from the Mahabharata, she critiqued the treatment of women and at-risk people in contemporary India. In the fictional future world, a saree like Draupadi’s intends to prompt discussion on the significance of safety for women. Priya says, “I took that concept in the future. Security of women has been such a critical issue that somebody in the future has come up with a fabric that grows, the more you pull it off.” While many develop the idea of a utopian world for India using this genre, others are choosing a path slightly more realistic and not idealistic. Prateek says, “Today, people are using this genre to engage with topical issues. One should be hopeful about the future but it can’t be moralistic when working with this genre. In India, we are not binary and with time, Indofuturism is becoming interesting and diverse.” Moreover, even fiction is at times extrapolated from the present, giving a wider scope to the audience to relate with the story and characters and be part of the art.

Challenge Awaits

Every artistic creation comes with its challenges. The field of Indofuturism is intimately tied to the evolution of technological platforms, shaping our visions of future society and culture. Avinash says, “Global news, media, and entertainment ecosystems mirror the complexity and inequities in global sociopolitical systems. The internet is now becoming unsafe, propagating harms such as hate speech, monocultural thinking, and gender bias. The greater challenges for anyone embarking on their creative journeys with Indofuturism, will be to counter this negativity and focus on positivity.’’

Indofuturism shows India's potential as a hub for innovative storytelling and identity formation on a global scale.” — Prateek Arora, V-P (Development), BANG BANG Mediacorp

Indofuturism is an avenue to satirise current issues and feel empowered by exploring hypothetical futures.” — Priya Bandodkar, Manager, Deloitte Canada

We incorporate elements of Indian culture and heritage into our depictions in video games and worlds built inside digital platforms.” — Avinash Kumar, co-founder, Studio Antariksha

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