For years, Hindi television serials drilled and re-drilled the same old age and regressive saas-bahu formula. We are not against the genre, but what we hate is the lack of push to go beyond it. Colors is making an attempt to dish out something new with Anil Kapoor starrer 24. But before that, what hit us, and what hit us good, is Star Plus’ magnum opus, Mahabharat.
Boy o boy…take a bow Siddharth Tewary (producer of the show and owner at Swastik Productions) for turning his dream into reality. We spoke to him almost a year back and then he talked about his ambitious project Mahabharat. And today he has nailed it with the superb execution of the epic.
Mahabharat is known to everyone. The challenge would have been to narrate what is already known in a gripping manner. And the show’s first episode managed to do that, precisely.
Star Plus went all out promoting the project, and it did manage to hit the “interest chord” amongst the masses.
The show’s title song resonates and reverberates in your mind and even the background score throughout blends beautifully with the story telling. Composer duo Ajay-Atul’s passion sounds in the notes.
To begin with the costumes look magnificent and manage to not cross the line of being unnecessarily gaudy. Young costume designer Vidhi Yasha with the experienced guidance of Bhanu Athaiya, has managed to add brilliance on small screen.
The beginning boat sequence reflecting Satyavati’s (Sayantani Ghosh) lust to achieve things by killing a golden dolphin was executed aptly. However, what killed the connect factor was its not so impressive special effects (juvenile is the correct word).
Sayantani as Satyavati and Samir Dharmadhikari as Maharaj Shantanu play their parts well.
But what really disappointed us is the performance of Saurabh Raj Jain playing the much pivotal role of Krishna. Though he had earlier been a part of mytho serials, he looked visibly uncomfortable and unconfident in the soliloquy scene in Mahabharat. Krishna’s introduction with all the colour and grandeur was shot brilliantly, but Saurabh could not do justice to the aura created via his punctured performance. He has to buck up given his character’s importance in the plot (someone needs to push him a bit. He is talented).
Next the ‘demons attack’ scene on Hastinapur immediately sends signals that it has taken influence from the Lord of The Rings, and though it looks infantile at times, it deserves a clap for attempting something new on TV. While talking about action, fight sequence between Devrath (Aarav Choudhary) and the demons is sketched keeping Keanu Reeves’ Matrix in mind and the scene where Devrath faces his father, Maharaj Shantanu also looks promising in terms of special effects (here, the job’s well done).
Next what follows is the anointment of Devrath as the yuvraj of Hastinapur, Satyavati’s angst against the move and the final encounter of Satyavai and Devrath that ends the episode. Devrath is actually the great Mahabharat character Bishma Pitama (will be revealed in tonight’s episode).
Okay…for more on the show…do watch the episode. But let’s wrap it up by zeroing on some of the high and low points.
Siddharth Tewary has managed to bring radiance on screen. Kudos to Star and its head Uday Shankar on supporting such a show which has massive production value (and cost). Now we know why Star Plus is numero uno.
Overall, the special effects are eye catchy and don’t seem like a shady low-budget English movie. But then it was the first episode, and Mahabharat is a long journey. We hope the quality is maintained throughout and the compromising factor does not set it.
They say there’s God in details, and here, Star Plus’ Mahabharat’s key lies in detailing. Be it the ducks moving around Krishna, fish nets in the Satyavati scene, diyas, flags and flowers in the anointment scene, the creative team has an impeccable eye for details.
When you are making a show which is synonymous with opulence and magnificence, and given the pressure of working in the television medium, one can always loose the plot in shots continuity. But Mahabharat’s scenes blend flawlessly.
Action sequences need to be more realistic is what we feel. But then with demi-Gods, one can argue that they can never be so real. Good to see that arrows bursting in the air days are back. Action director Ram Shetty gets a hi-five from us.
Dialogues are not over the top belting out unfathomable Sanskrit words, yet are poignant and does justice to every character’s personality.
Some lines stay with us like (pardon us if we go wrong here and there) “Bade pedh ke niche chote pedh to kya, ghas bhi nahin ugdi”, and “Tumhari yeh lalsa hriday se rakht bahayegi”. Dialogues are written by Mihir Bhuta.
We have already spoken about costumes and the sets by Omung Kumar matches real and surreal. The sets look out of the world and Indian television has seen nothing like it till now.
Cinematography is clean and adds vitality and vividness to the stunning locations. DOP of the show is Thomas A Xavier.
The peacock feather flying around during scene transitions caught our attention and it’s good.
Yes, Mahabharat deserves a dekho and we say it’s a must watch. It’s a new television viewing experience and indeed, it has a long way to go. Main characters are yet to be introduced.
But Rajit Kapoor (acting mentor in the show) needs to fine tune skills of the actors. They need to sway away from the usual daily soap mode of performance and dialogue delivery. For a majestic show like Mahabharat, they need to feel and be majestic. They need to feel like Kings and Princesses. They need to be confident yet not arrogant in their acts.
Samir Dharmadhikari and Aarav lacked punch and power in the battle scene. Aarav we say has an easy charm and unmistakable depth behind the scruffy exterior.
Just a little fine tuning in performances and it will do justice to all the technical effort that has gone into the making of a maha show like Mahabharat.
We welcome majesty on idiot box…with open hearts!!!