Years ago,every Sunday morning at 9,India would come to a standstill. Television sets would turn into shrines,people would cover their heads and pay their respects as Doordarshan aired BR Chopras ‘Mahabharat’. Its resonating shlokas were learnt by heart by children and the ‘Main samay hoon’ Wheel of Time voice-over with the mythological serial was catapulted to a godly pedastal. In just 94 episodes that aired between October 2,1988 and June 24 1990,’Mahabharat’ achieved epic proportions. It was but obvious that we were hoping for the same impact as we tuned in on September 16 on Star Plus to witness the resurrection of the greatest story ever told. We did get it,but in bits and parts.
Produced by Siddharth Kumar Tewarys Swastik Productions,Mahabharat came in with all the pomp and show,glory and grandeur,with larger-than-life sets,special effects and Lord Krishna as its sutradhaar,narrating the story,introducing its characters,and peeling off the layers. We come face-to-face with the great King Shantanu,his wife Satyavati,the brave and wise Bhisham,the ever-flowing Ganga,and fiery princess Amba. We are taken behind the scenes for a glimpse into the making of this great epic and are made familiar with writer Salim Khan,author Devdutt Pattanaik,Oscar winning designer Bhanu Athaiya,music directors Ajay-Atul and Ismail Darbar,action director Ram Shetty and Omang Kumar as the set designer. They claim theyve raised the bar,which is honestly,something yet to be seen and proved accordingly. They also claim to educate the present generation with this epic,but with chaste Hindi,over-the-top dialogues and a preachy approach,it will be an uphill task.
The magnum opus is supported by a cast that includes Puneet Issar (Parshuram),Sayantani Ghosh (Satyavati),Aarav Chaudhary (Bheeshma),Ratan Rajput (Amba),Shaheer Shaikh (Arjun),Saurabh Jain (Krishna),Pooja Sharma (Draupadi) and Praneet Bhatt (Shakuni) among others. No doubt its a good looking and talented ensemble cast and the locations are stunning,but this is no Game of Thrones.
The beauty of Mahabharat is its timelessness,its ability to fit into any life,any era,and any period. If it was presented in a modern day context,like a political thriller (Prakash Jhas Raajneeti),it wouldve definitely set a new benchmark that of mythologies,of sagas,or revered stories making sense even in todays times. While we still need to wait for that to happen on television,there is no harm in tuning into the cut-copy-paste version of Mahabharat. If not anything,it still makes for a gripping tale of love,betrayal,honour,guts and glory.
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