The Contemporary Fairytale: A Monochrome Project


Part: (1/4)

“Perhaps, if fairy tales taught us to be our own heroes, we would neither need someone to save us, nor be obliged to save another.”

  • The Once Upon A Time: An Opening

This is where all stories begin; where all is unknown. It’s exhilarating, being the narrator, the actor, the director and the scriptwriter. You haven’t heard this tale before, and you don’t know what goes wrong where. All you have is an opening. A wardrobe portal to Narnia? Or a rabbit hole in the ground? Perhaps, a new college or a job. This opening is where your adventure begins: your new-age fairy tale. Things won’t be glitch-free. There will be bad guys and ludicrous drama. You may stumble and fall, or spill red wine all over your prince (or princess) charming’s white shirt; it’s impossible to foretell. The leaves are bound to sway along with the wind, but sunlight always finds a way in. This is your incipit; this is your breakthrough.

  • The Protagonist: En Pointe

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” ― William Shakespeare

Each story’s essence lies with the lead, and since you’re the casting director of your tale, who plays it is in your hands. It could be you (ideally), someone you choose to revolve your life around, or worse, something you choose to give more importance to. The protagonist has a tough role to play, for she/he is who gets to wear the crown, and perform the pirouettes and the grande allegros. The ground, alas, is not always smooth (shakiest around the Opening), and dancing feet are bound to falter. To be the host before the curtains open is one thing; to actually be the show’s centerpiece is a whole new responsibility. When there are no retakes, the least you can do is be the étoile to your ballet, the hero to your own story.


Part (2/4)

  • The Kingdom: Florescence

“Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.” ― Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
The kingdom is the nature to your nurture, the place where you bloom in your own space, your own time. From the friends you make to the school you attend, and even the showers you spend long hours of retrospection in- everything makes up your empire. Your family, home and entrenched values are the founding stones of your castle, the most impactful structures. Like for a flowering bud, your milieu is a vital element for your growth; the right nourishment will help you bloom at the right time. Although you may be the one with the crown, you do not rule over your kingdom; it controls you as much as you control it. When a crisis entails, you don’t abandon your kingdom, you take shelter in it. The safe adobe under the covers of your bed is as precious as quality time spent with your loved ones. The best part? With every new day you encounter, you expand your boundaries. It is what belongs to your heart, and where your heart belongs. Stay rooted.

  • The Bubble: Innocence

“Innocence is like polished armor; it adorns and defends.” ― Robert South
This is your protected space in the kingdom. It is the bubble of goodwill which grows a little every time you give/receive a caring hug, hear/give a genuine compliment, or see someone go out of their way to help another. It’s a bubble built with fine fibers of kindness, which strengthen your faith in humanity and make you invincible from the evil outside- or so you think. There’s a fine line between being innocent and being naïve. Once you cross it, your bubble is bound to burst, for innocence weaves strong threads of faith, but naivety breeds feeble ignorance. To learn to distinguish between the two is utterly essential; innocence once lost is hard to revive.



  • The Curse: Inner Demons

“Every fairy tale had a bloody lining. Everyone had teeth and claws.”― Alice Hoffman

The realism in fairytales lies in their villains. Unfortunately, the “bad guy” outside the fantasy world neither wears a black cape, nor is surrounded by green flames. It could be a boss, a coworker, a back-biting friend. However, these are simply unpleasant people in your kingdom who you eventually learn to deal with. More often than not, the true monsters that capture us have no human, physical form. They are tamed within us, caged deep inside our ribs. Every person has them, each with its own form. Feeding on your fears and doubts, they grow, and soon enough, the harmless pets you tamed become the master of you, with their claws digging into your insides. Know it’s okay to have your demons; it’s okay to live with them, but it’s not okay to let them define who you are. What you forget is that the inordinate darkness you feel trapped in only stays so until you switch the lights on, and the demons that feel gigantic inside your head are no bigger than your perception of them; always remember, you have the power to control your perceptions.

  • The Suffering: The Burden

“Classic fairy tales do not deny the existence of heartache and sorrow, but they do deny universal defeat.” ― Greenhaven

Battles fought with ourselves are the most dangerous kind- we either quell our demons and regain poise, or let them conquer and fall ugly. As long as the war lasts, you will be forced to carry the burden of despair, and it only pull you down. Be it failure, heartbreak, betrayal or loss, you’re bound to be hurt. What’s important to understand is that grieving is also a part of healing, and it is in the suffering that you find the strength to dust yourself up. We often fail to realize that some monsters are not meant to tamed, but embraced. Not being comfortable in your own skin, with your own insecurities will keep you trapped in misery, and to drag the war is as terrible as accepting defeat. Your kingdom (the people around you, your bubble of goodwill, the safety of your castle) plays a major role in helping you overcome your suffering; it’s here that you break your own walls to mend yourself, if only you allow yourself to put down the heavy sack of hurtful past, and let yourself forgive and heal.


Part (4/4)

  • The Savior: Liberation

“Rock Bottom has built more heroes than privilege.” ― Anonymous

Sometimes, all you need is a hero to save you, someone to pull you out from the ditch you’ve collapsed into. It’s okay to reach out for help. We all need someone to hear us out and show us compassion. It’s okay to need some rescuing; it isn’t okay, however, to wait around for a prince on his white horse to save you. A lifeboat can rescue you, but only if you first break free from the chains that anchor you down, and float atop the sea of gloom. To be lost is inevitable, and what gets lost can always be found. You have a savior within you, and the reins of your white horse are always yours to maneuver. Once you realize that, you’re already halfway there. Wishes are only granted in fairy tales; only you can grant yourself the permission to set free, and be that wild stallion, boundless bird, limitless sky or those breaking waves – whichever defines your freedom. To be lost is inevitable, to be found is a choice- a choice of learning, growing and believing. So don’t wait around for the prince/princess to kiss you. Win your own battles, be your own knight in a shining armor.

  • The Happily Ever After: New Ventures

“Your time as a caterpillar has expired. Your wings are ready.” ― Anonymous

In the calm after the storm, take a step back and turn down the volume of the deafening silence. Look at how much has changed since you started your journey, since the grand opening. It’s a remarkable feeling, to see how far you’ve come from where you started. This is your happily ever after, the ironically fleeting moment which makes you feel infinite. Your childlike happiness instills in you a sense of love, one you feel for yourself. This love is what helps you love another, for no love can be given without having some stored within. You dance to the rhythm of life with effortless feet, and though the beats are bound to change, something in your new-found confidence convinces you that it’s all going to be okay. This is when you leave the safe nest of your kingdom, and stumble upon new openings. Only, now when you embark upon new adventures, you’ll be prepared for the vicious beasts and exhausting downfalls. Ameliorate what you can’t obliterate, and never let go of the lessons your mistakes teach you. Untangle life one thread at a time, and perhaps, you’ll make your happily ever after last a little longer. After all, you’re the one directing this fairy tale; to keep rolling or to say “cut!”- that is the question.



Photographs by:

Nishant Sahoo

Samyukta Pingali

Myria Mathew

Nishtha Sharma

Rahul Ambati

Yash Singhania

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