Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Mahabharatha redefined

I was speaking to a friend the other day, and we were talking about Karna and suddenly he came up with one of the most amusing bloopers I have heard in a while. According to him, Yudhishthira was Karna's father! It had me laughing uncontrollably, but to an extent it just reminded me of how at times we 'forget' the epics.

All said and done, I'd say the Mahabharatha is one of my favorite 'books'. It's full of characters of various hues, some a slightly darker shade of pale. To this day, I cant but help but sympathize with Karna, for all his 'hardships' and the tought choices he had to make. The dilemmas and secrets Kunti harbored from the Pandavas. It would be interesting to put a spin on things and wonder what might have transpired had Karna been 'accepted' as the eldest of the Pandavas.

I never realized that Veda Vyaasa had a lot more 'personal touch' with the storyline than just dictating the text to Ganesha! But then I guess Amar Chitra Katha suitably censored those parts, or I missed them!

Bheeshma comes across as a very honorable old man, but as a kid I despised him because he sided with the Kauravas in the war - yes, I had a different set of rules when it came to Karna!

The battle of Kurukshetra is an epic within an epic. The sheer force of the Bhagavad Gita is simply amazing - the words ring true even today! It still amazes me how Abhimanyu learned only the way in to a chakravyuh, and didnt learn the way out! The death of Drona reads as one of the particularly dramatic sequences, where Yudhishthira had to lie that Ashwatthama (an elephant, and not Drona's son) had indeed been killed. With that lie, his chariot which normally always stood a few inches above the ground (due to his greatness), came down to the ground.

All said and done I'd tend to think Krishna was a very shrewd player. Two instances stand out on the battlefield - the death of Karna, and the slaying of Jayadratha. All said and done both had their roles to play in the death of Abhimanyu, and Karna had laughed when Draupadi was insulted in the court - so that naturally had Arjuna baying for their blood. But still, killing Karna while he was trying to rescue his chariot from the sinking mud was slightly unfair consdering the high 'standards' set by all concerned!

For some reason when you think of the characters, one immediately visualizes the people who played the roles in the TV serials (so much for the media!)! (Also speaks volumes about what a good casting job the Chopras did!). Yes, we did have those shady battle sequences to deal with - but back then slick computer graphics were a long way off from Indian shores!

Shashi Tharoor's Great Indian Novel is an amazing 'parody' (if thats the word) where all the events in India's post-Independent history have been superimposed on the storyline of the Mahabharatha. It sure makes some amusing reading!

5 comments:

Nyscha said...

umm moi can relate to confusion abt epics cos my family has really strange versions of the epics which leads to interesting arguments.its hilarious to say the least.the other day a little kid on tv claimed that ravana was actually rama's cousin and they fought cos rama wouldn't let ravana have his bar of chocolate!!!lemme see anyone beat that!

bugs said...

hmm...a nice post here!i remember mahabharata well...thanks only to amar chithra katha and doordarshan!!as for "the great India novel", I was so glad to reach the end of the book.

bugs said...
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Sunil said...

Actually, in many ways, to me Chopra's TV version killed the epic for me. The magic the written word conjures up was lost with the excessively sentimental and emotional bilge we got on TV. I still like to read different versions of the Mahabharata every 3 months or so....

as far as a screen version goes...Peter Brook's dramatization was quite remarkable in the aspects it brought out (though it did not develop the characters of Bhisma and Karna deeply enough). Its worth a watch.