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6 Pack Mahabharata July 8, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Channel Wars, Entertainment, Epics, India.Culture, Mahabharata, Mass Media, Personal, Television, Writing.
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Once upon a time in India there was a family. And the family fell apart. They fought. And there was death and destruction.

Yesterday was supposed to be an epochal moment. The great Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’ was making a comeback on prime time television. The new version called ‘Kahani Hamare Mahabharat Ki’ is being helmed by the television behemoth Balaji television; therefore the ‘K’ to bring into play the appropriate gods, goddesses, planets and other celestial beings who supposedly unknown to us play a creative and commercial role in the success or disaster of the said venture.

News channels are going overboard bringing on board the actors and other creatives who were a part of the earlier avatar made in the 80’s…when India was abandoned on Sunday mornings from 9 to 10 in the morning. Can ‘KAMK’ beat B.R.Chopra’s version?

Post the clutter – breaking ‘Ramayan’ launched by NDTV Imagine on prime – time, channel and other creative heads have waken up to the possibility of Indian mythology becoming prime time fodder in opposition to the saas-bahu sagas. The intrigue, scale, grandeur, message, philosophy, love, devotion they say is integral to both our epics and the Indian or Hindu way of life.

Mahabharata in fact is more pan-religious than Ramayan. So 9 X grabbed the opportunity, got hold of Balaji and bingo an epic got recreated in a jiffy. How does it fare? Will it be as eyeball-grabbing as the 80’s version? Will it dent viewer-ship patterns in 9 X’s favour?

The 1st episode is quite a disaster.

I agree, it is too early to pass any judgment. It is in its infancy and there are always teething problems. One can correct, build, develop and improve. Let’s hope so.

1st – The positives – television stars. All the horses of the Balaji stable have been harnessed for this show. The series definitely will have star value. But have they been cast right? That’s a BIG question mark. More on that later.

The series is shot on High-Definition. Although the transmission is still ‘standard definition’ it remains to be seen to whether there is in fact any upping in the visual standard.

It was a straight 30 minute telecast with no breaks…after an eon. Don’t think it will be the norm though.

As of now that is all in the Positives. Some would say clothes designed by Manish Malhotra, but I would still suspend my decision on this. It seems as if the makers got hold of Troy, Spartacus, Ben Hur, Alexander from the shops at Lokhandwala market; films where people wear cloaks and rough ornaments and copied them. That is the extent of research. Peter Brook’s Mahabharata would have been too avant-garde and possibly down-market for them, shorn as it is of all glamour.

Duryodhana, played by Aryan Vaid, has a scorpion tattoo on his arm. Draupadi has a star kind of a tattoo on her chest. All the Pandavas were in the dark, so wait for more such mehendi designs.

This is six-pack Mahabharata. Chiseled bodies who have all arrived from the gym. Anita Hasnandani playing Draupadi is ill-cast. The makers could have dubbed her voice at least so pathetic a scene she cuts raving and ranting during her molestation. There are places where one can sense Anita’s squeaky voice has been tweaked to sound like Roopa Ganguly’s, who played Draupadi in the earlier version.

Aryan Vaid too has been miscast. His voice, demeanour not leaving any mark, unlike the raspy and envious Puneet Issar. Wait, you’ll say, characters grow and this is just the 1st episode. Forget Aryan Vaid, the talented Makrand Deshpande hammed to death in his brief appearance yesterday. And to heighten the drama, to kill it rather – none of the Kauravas – King Dhritarashtra, Elder Beeshma, Guru Drona, Kripa…none of them were shown during the disrobing of Draupadi! Bheeshma’s palm and the blind king’s raised eyeballs were definitely seen. Somebody is trying to be subtle here. Who are the directors of this show with misplaced sense of narrative punctuation and effect?

You might accuse me of suffering from 80’s hangover. But just like my next door neighbour, I too am eagerly waiting for a spectacle and this epic allows you to do that. And when you have the budget, the people, why sell it only by glitter – stars, effects, technology, marketing. Why not actors, effects, narrative, technology?

There are other objections too – the way the episode was hurried through and Anita H’s preposterous performance. Glory, grandeur, gravitas – the 1st episode had none.

But you have the ‘K’ on your side.



1. myexpression - July 8, 2008

hmmm… i’d hate to disagree with you… its a saga of miscasts… and god why anita H; she cant speak… and the whole bit looked like a cheat shoot; her long shots and tight closes; anyway had it been any better i would have been shocked… lol

2. astralwicks - July 8, 2008

i think the reason the elders were not shown was because they have not been cast yet. all the P.R is revolving around these stars who can’t act to save their lives.

3. supriya - July 8, 2008

maaaaaaaaan!!!!…..this was no different from the rest of the K serials…cudnt relate any of the actors to any of the characters!!

4. astralwicks - July 9, 2008

@supriya hope they quickly learn the lesson…otherwise this one is going to be super-unbearable. All objections and suggestions to Ekta will most probably be met by ‘THIS IS BALAJI’ a la 300.

5. myexpression - July 9, 2008

shit missed the second episode… wanted to know if it was any better or worse 🙂

did anyone see it…

6. aviblog99 - July 9, 2008

I too agree that cast is totally not matching the character, no way near to Chopra’s Mahabharat cast. Looks like another K series masala mix… no devotion.. It will be a super flop.

7. astralwicks - July 9, 2008

@avi it might be a hit but thats not the barometer. just saw today’s episode. an entire sequence from 300 has been lifted…kid Bheeshma’s growing up… the fox/wold/dog fight sequence. but has that ever been a negative? not really. chaapte jao…

8. Kshatriya Abhishek - July 11, 2008

this mahabharat is totally opposite of the history.The fighters are wearing the clothes like Unani fighters and they are using swords.hello madam”ekta kapoor ” this serial is about kshatriya family and they are using “dhanush ” SWORD not at all.and bhishm is the great dhanurdhar.SO pls stop this kind of foolishness this is not your kahani ghar ghar ki.and other stuoid kind of serials

9. astralwicks - July 11, 2008

@abhishek there will be many more such historical inaccuracies. welcome to ‘chalta hai…kyunki bikta hai’

10. chavanni - July 12, 2008

ajay brahmatmaj well said…its
(k)hani hamare mahabharat ki …its damage of our mahabharat.

11. astralwicks - July 13, 2008

@abhishek…sahadev was a swordsman…there is a myth which says that he was so good that when it used to rain he could make an invisible canopy around him and not a drop could touch him…

@chavanni lol…yeah still early days but if the show continues to be an excuse for star-casting and styling then…may it meet its deserved fate

12. Sita - July 15, 2008

What a Mahabharat, every one is wearing either black or cofee coloured dress (or white). ekta ji kya us waqt kuch aur colour nahin pahnte the log.
and no one is wearing gold jwelery…..surprising..

13. astralwicks - July 15, 2008

@sita lol…you just have to dub it in latin and it won’t be out of place. my parents are not very pleased with the Troyification of Mahabharat.

14. Badshah - July 17, 2008

Its simply too good, ya though some things have changed. I really liked bhishm’s acting. But satyavati(yak!). I am looking forward to the future episodes. Good enough work by Ekta kapoor.

15. astralwicks - July 18, 2008

Hi Badshah good that you enjoyed it…Ekta might get her audience and we will all hold to our likes and dislikes.

16. mins - July 20, 2008

i think its gr8.. it may not have the perfect acting talent the 80’s Mahabharath had but the large scale and all that is working for the new one… the cast maybe from the saas-bahu saga but still its worth watching… i would give it 3starts.

17. astralwicks - July 20, 2008

hi mins thanks for reading and commenting (which is rare; most people only do the reading bit) but for too long has the ‘bigness’ of cast and spectacle won us over. copy a bit from hollywood, fashion it appropriately for the times and use the actors who are mostly non-actors…you can watch Love story 2050 or Thoda Pyaar because of its stars but how many actually enjoyed them.

but the serial is getting viewers so…we debate and ekta wins.

18. Ruchira - July 22, 2008

Well written review. Well, you talked about Anita’s terrible voice- but what about her costume and ornaments? Does she look like a queen from any angle? Of course, the men dress like Greeks and Romans but at least the other women – Ganga, Satyabati – they look different, but Indian. Anita dresses like she is about to run out and dance in the rain to some Bollywood song like every Prerna, Heer etc does once in a while. Then did you hear the song that they played before the Chakra arrived in the scene? Jai Jagdish Hare praises Shiva, not Vishnu, that song was totally misplaced. Makarand did not at all fit ion the role of a wise, calm sage.The dialogues were so ordinary. If our genration likes the dialogues of JodhaAkbar, why wouldn’t they accept pure Hindi in Mahabharat? And yet, in the following episodes, Ganga and Shantanu spoke shuddh Hindi.
Everyone seems to have just one costume- the Pandavas always wear black, their queen wears one red saree, its ridiculous! And I also feel Rakshanda’s costume in the current track is modern. As for what all the dasis of Hastinapur, Kashi and Shalm wear, well, let’s not even go there!

19. astralwicks - July 22, 2008

hi ruchira i was hard pressed to make a point to point analysis but i agree with what you have said. i missed the jai jagadish hare song reference although i felt a bit odd on hearing it…thanks for the clarification. I have refrained from visiting the show after the 1st 2 episodes because of the brazen embellishment of the epic with glitz, glamour, scale…sometimes like Jewel sang ‘simple is true’ but programmers either are sure or are convinced by the marketing that ‘packaging’ sells. so here we are…

20. soumita - August 5, 2008

bakwazzzz.its gonna be another saas bahu type of k serial.

21. astralwicks - August 5, 2008

from the sublime to the pathetic…

22. SaveHinduism - August 5, 2008

I wonder how much a disgrace Hindu religion can tolerate. I thought Saas bahu saaga was good enough to hang Ekta Kapoor ( Or guess what make her marry thrice in a single family like her serials do.. or let make her change husbands like clothes ) Sorry about being rude, but I think she has got it from her family. Being from a Star family means no religious values, respect. I just saw 5 minute of it and trust me if she was in front of me, I would have killed her. Remember Its not ur typical Baa Naanu or Paapa ji when u are potraying Gods, Dronacharaya, Bhisham Pitahmaa. Watching The original Mahabharta inspired people to believe in God, respect, Motherly and Brotherly love and most of all made them proud of their Culture. We have to understand its not the Valentine day or western culture its People like Ekta kapoor who are killing our culture.

23. astralwicks - August 5, 2008

thanks for the comment but I strongly disagree with your POV. I don’t like Ekta’s work but an entire nation of God fearing people and largely woman – largely mothers and daughters watch it religiously. The stories might be what you say they are but its also probably because most women in the country are either suffering (from in laws, husbands or other villains) or fighting-the theme of her overly long stories.
I and you sir / madam have no right to ascribe her values or the lack of it to her parents or anybody. If you know she religiously treks to Sidhi Vinayak temple in Mumbai.
Her soaps are regressive agreed but thankfully don’t preach violence or hatred – which is what people opposing to valentine’s Day usually resort to to show their opposition.
Do make your POV heard but peacefully. Believe me with so much of noise your silence/quietness might actually be louder.

24. SaveHinduism - August 6, 2008

I agree with you I myself don’t like violence and trust me I would not have said anything if she would have made Indian version of Baywatch and stared in it herself(which probably she would as her comment that she would like to have body like karina). To express someone’s own opinion or new things in any way is acceptable but to do such a thing about history without any research is untolerable. I wonder how she is able to watch it sitting b/w his parents, brother and elders. I know she might have has less part to play with the actual serial but the credit and discredit goes to the captain of the army. Please don’t get me wrong, going to temple does not actually imply someone’s deep rooted beliefs, we all do good and bad but please keep it to yourself.
I live abroad and I would not have a answer for her foolishness when some foriegner sees it asks me question, you can’t tell everyone to go watch old version or visit Kumbh, Prayag, Kaashi, Haridwar, Vaishno devi etc. Remember with internet age it is representing Indian history to the world. There have been other serials made like jai hanuman, Om namah shivay and jai ganga and other more without having any major flaw in it. And to let such a disgrace happen to the biggest epic of our culture just shows the respect the production team has.

25. astralwicks - August 6, 2008

Let me reiterate that I am not a fan of the current version as is obvious by my bog. I hate the fact that what Ekta and in turn her creative team has done is to package it for a new audience in the worst possible way. Tattoos and Greco Roman jewelery and architecture…basically copying it from various sources like Troy, Ben Hur, Cleopatra and even 300 (Bhishma’s sequence). It is easy and convenient. The serial has some advances and many drawbacks. Personally I catch whenever I can only to have fun.

Don’t worry…there is another Mahabharata coming on air on Star Plus in another couple of months. Who knows, they might undo all the horrors of this one.

26. J - August 7, 2008

LOL – what a JOKE this serial is, i have seen school children doing comical representations of modern Ramayan and Mahabharata in schools, they are far better, cuz atleast they did some thought process……..Ekta, please tag this serial as a “comical interpretation”, but am not sure it will still be better than what those school kids make.

27. crrazy cool - August 18, 2008

Hi Save hinduism..(from what though?)

u are talkin about a woman marrying thrice in ekta’s serials n about killing culture..!! i thot that draupadi was making out with all the 5 brothers…i mean isnt that sick??

28. Nawab - August 19, 2008

hello mr.crazycool , what savehinduism has is apt , and if you want to know why draupadi was making out with 5 brothers………..man you should read the whole mahabharat on yr own . and how and why krishna said that she was a virtuous wife even after marrying 5 of them you should read it . it is history my friend and you are posting something without the proper knowledge of the fact.
i thouroughly agree with Savehinduism and astralwicks on all their points,even though they seem to differ in the voice of their opinion but the end pt is always the same .
mahabharat did actually took place and accordind to archeological and epigraphic surveys around 900 b.c
the war did took place between the kuru and other tribe clans , but the paranormal interpretations are meant to teach the posteirity of some virtuous qualities and thus the whole story was written in a poetic form and it form the lengthiest saga of the world.we know what happened ,to some extent (…as in your draupadi case) but why it happened not many of us know and it is the duty of those who wre trying to make a shilling out of this saga i.e the serial makers to do some research and to portray the facts as they were and duty of peaple like you to stop making comments like this without any previous knowledge because by doing this you will make someone from outside not having any knowledge of our culture as draupadi appearing a whore , which certainly is not the case. this is internet age indian culture is touching the west and i would consider it a blasphemy on your part to post such a praposterous comment.
this is not yr college canteen where u r naking such comments to get someone’s attention.u r an indian and thus should say the things as they are. i wonder how british viewers are more broad minded than you.
they have given it a unani look as far as the wardrobe is considered , but the very basic points of the story have been forgotten . this serial is nothin but a rusting iron plated with gold .
full of glitz and glamour but no base .
thank you savehinduism and astralwicks

29. astralwicks - August 20, 2008

@nawab thanks for commenting. all or say most religions are parables-teaching us lessons-to be virtuous etc. some are simple and some complex, couched in philosophical poetry, which only the learned can decipher. mahabharat is one such. @crazy cool please spend some time reading some books. not bombay times and such. might help. your reactions are remarkably similar to Duryodhana and Dushyasan-who label her as such and then attempt to dishonour her. and what if a woman does indeed have 5 husbands? will you treat her less humanly?

30. Ved Vyas Zeee - September 23, 2008

Its “THE MOST” Disgusting interpretation of the greatest EPIC running on the prime time(Jo Channel aur Ekta ko le Dubegaaa).
It Depicts the Insane Brain of Ekta and her Slaves(Actors who knows what the MESS they are doing and still cant speak up a word).
Ekta Shud be featured as one of the Most “Bewakooofh” Character India has produced.Nevermind not her fault.. Pehle to AAdhi Pagal Thiii Ab PURI PAGAL Ho Gayi Hai..Ye Cartoon Mahabharat Bana Ke.Ha Ha Ha Ha..ITS Seems She has Made Mr.BEAN (K MahaBharat) to come in the Primetime for the Purpose of WWF.She is trying to show Mr. Bean Vs.Undertaker (RAmayan NDTV)…Ab Aaage Kya Hogaaa Sabko Pata HAI..

31. astralwicks - September 23, 2008

hi ved vyas zee…what if she takes your suggestions seriously… 🙂

32. Jai Shri Narayan - October 3, 2008

Well.. i dont think that piece of shit being aired on television posing as Mahabharat with as much loyalty to the Great epic as there is brain in that insolent woman’s head, deserves so much of internet space and time. The telecast of it should be banned and the producers sued for disgracing our national and cultural wealth. Nobody asked her and her shitty group of actors to leave their saas-bahu garbage and venture out to do such blasphemous things.

33. astralwicks - October 3, 2008

hi jai shri your anger will only make her smile and all the more determined to make more such – convinced that she is making a difference – good or bad. but i agree – it is a disaster.

34. Jai Shri Narayan - October 4, 2008

Hey Mr.Wicks…I am a boy who grew up watching Mahabharat and Shrikrishna by my Grandad’s side…. Well, to be honest, those were the serials that lit the fire of piety and righteousness and faith in God inside me. Even today, when i think of those characters, i get goosebumps.
With all that technological expertise at her disposal, shouldn’t she have added to the grandeur of the Mahabharat’s splendid storyline instead of letting loose a bunch of well-toned hunks and scantily clad women amok in black dresses and hideous locations. Talking about the dresses people wore in those ages is pointless because the Mahabharat involved divine characters who are the Supreme Lords of the world and there is no way we could assume that they too wore the same kind of clothes as the normal junta of those times and our paltry scientific research and historic records cannot do justice to the omniscient Lord’s period on Earth. It is through Maharishi Ved Vyas and Lord Ganpati that we’ve all stood to inherit Mahabharat. It is not any stupid historic expedition that has unearthed it.
And IT IS NOT any mom-and-pop story for Ekta to skew it beyond recognition and add her own “innovations”. It amounts to sacrilege and nothing less. It is time she stops this irreverent insolence and knock her brain into place and take another earnest attempt to start anew with total devotion and direct the Mahabharat as it should be….

Jai Shri Narayan

35. abhigyan - October 6, 2008

Ekta jii,
Didnot u study the basic beliefs of kshatriyas or even hindu families.Black colour is considered as bad omen and mostly abstained from putting on.Instead yellow etc are considered shubh and how come royal family would wear like this.Furthermore, without any gold jewellery and precious stones or even without a gold crown,if all the Patra of Mahabharata in real past could have seen it ,must have felt very ashamed.
Dont you think without any sign of honor like chandan on forehead, without any sign of all the sanskar of hindu custom,without sign of dignity a Crown of gold with studded stones u can portrait it.If u dont konw i can tell that for a hindu female totally free and unbound hair are symbol of her anger/grief/vow/disaster.

36. astralwicks - October 6, 2008

@jai shri and @abhigyan thanks for the comments. i agree that care should be taken when portraying as sensitive and divine as the mahabharata. personally i don’t have problems with the technical bit…honestly even that is no great shakes. it is the blatant emphasis on style at the expense of substance that one is ruing.

and abhigyan your points are pertinent.

37. vijay - October 22, 2008

Ekta, This should be shown in cartoon network, You have all kind of jokers and cartoon charactors.
Discuss with sony or microsoft xbox for converting this 6 pack charactors into video game charactors. I am sure theose days there was no modern gym only “filewan”/wrestler were exists.

38. Baasu_chatterjee@hotmail.com - November 20, 2008

Well, this serial is a contradiction on many levels.

While, I commend her for her effort of trying to match up to the legacy left by the peerless chopra saab, she has also added her own bloated ego into the question. While, I admit that modernizing the cast, and the theme in which the soap is made is very much needed, she has just done what she wants without considering the ramifications.

If she thinks by making the female actors wear some skimpy attire, (although it is not overboard, thank god) and the male actors flaunt their physiques while adding unnecessary special effects, she can reap TRPS and viewers, she is sorely mistaken.

And in her massive ego, she has made many changes to the original script of the epic itself, which is unacceptable. All these cosmetic changes I can accept, but changing of the story of the epic itself to make it fit her needs is just one step short of blasphemy!!

As for the cast, while Ronit Roy looks good (surprisingly) she has somewhat turned him into a superman. Aryan Vaid as Duryodhan looks more like a wrestler in the wwe than a actor, while some of the pandavas, I can’t even imagine those faces to match their characters. Actually Chetan Hansraj seems more suitable to be Duryodhan while Aryan vaid actually seems more suited to be Bheem. And Damn it, that idiot who plays Bhagwan Krishna, what was she thinking when she chose a man who looks like a hybrid of a monkey and a ass to play that role? She should have at least chosen someone who at least looks better, considering the importance and image of that character. But no, she can’t listen to anybody’s suggestion. She does what she wants, because she thinks nobody can say anything to her. Idiot. As for the story themes, Indian mythological characters do not dress like greeks!! This is India!! While a change in theme was needed, she has just ripped off the movie 300!!!

Draupadi scene was horrible, and a terrible performance. It does not compare to the intense and aesthetic performance done by Rupa Ganguly in the original. If Ekta kapoor thinks just throwing in all her K serial actors and do the usual juggling of scripts, she can match B.R. Chopra, she is sorely mistaken.

I admit, that trying to do this serial was a bold step, but unfortunately this has been a extremely ill advised attempt until now, & I only hope she either realizes her mistakes and rectifies them. If not, it would be better to scrap this serial. Unless she gets her act together, this is going to be a total disaster. Just compare it to the new Ramayan in NDTV Imagine, it is thousands times better than this.

Just having a reputation, the resources and the money to afford it does not a epic make!!!

39. astralwicks - November 21, 2008

Hi Baasu welcome to the blog and good analysis

40. novicer - February 28, 2009

@ astralwicks:

Great job catching the blatant 300 lift. I was hoping somebody would mention it somewhere 🙂

I think the producers got an overdose of 300 as the effect is obvious everywhere from the 6 pack chiseled bare body display to the xerxes-inspired Shakuni to the (blatant) copy of leonidas training with the wolf. Lets see where they go from here.

41. novicer - February 28, 2009

forgot to add Dushashan’s Jokerization. I guess the producers like Batman comics too…and lets not get started about the fight between the young Bheeshma and Shantanu’s army…the whole thing looks like a MTV video rather than an epic story.

42. astralwicks - February 28, 2009

hi novicer welcome to the blog and thanks for the comments. yes pack it with new contemporary stuff and voila you too are topical and relevant…some aesthetic this…

43. novicer - March 1, 2009

Thanks astralwicks.

Just saw Ronit Roy’s intro as adult Bheeshma. Man, that settles it.

A door opens and a elephant walks out peacefully, totally in peace and self control…an unknown guy intercepts the peaceful animal in its path..the gentle giant lifts his trunk to demand his way like a gentleman..the guy jumps up in the air and punches the pachyderm on its massive forehead..the wise and intelligent pachyderm, quite assured that it has come face to face with a madman on loose, adopts a pacifying posture by sitting down. the man looks truimphant and looks up…and gasp !!! it is Ronit Roy as Bheeshma….

thats just pure madness….

the reply from producers might be: This is not madness..this isss Spaaaaaarta…err…kahani hamarey mahabharat ki….

In some other episode, I saw a 12 th standard student wearing the peacock thing on his cap. And it slowly dawned on me, this is Krishna…okkkkkk….

Well, we know one more place to turn to, to have rip roaring time with friends and booze 🙂

44. astralwicks - March 2, 2009

@novicer…it is prime time comedy on more than one occasion…only our patience must outlive our frustration

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