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Mahabharat – Review

I was very excited when I heard that the Mahabharat was returning to the small screen this year, as I truly believe that it is one of the finest stories that our culture has to tell.
It has intrigue, deceit, heroes, villains and everyone has shades of grey instead of just being black or white. The ‘original’ Mahabharat was a wonderful body of work which won the hearts and minds of the people with its wonderful acting and important ability to keep the story flowing without the need to add filler episodes. In fact, the fact that it was such a success is the reason we are talking about it as we review the latest version to air on the air.
The 2013 take on the Indian epic is produced by Swastik Pictures and is being broadcast by Star Plus. The channel has really gotten behind the publicity of the show with behind the scene features, extensive interviews as well as highlighting the hardships the crew had to go through to film in some of the stunning locations.
The show itself pleasantly surprised me. I was afraid that the show would play to galleries and try to adapt the popular soap format with excessive close up shots and dramatization, but the filmmakers seem to have restrained themselves from going overboard.
The acting has been solid so far with the main characters dong a good job. The stand out actor for me has been Arav Chowdhary as Bhishma Pitamah. His character is central to the entire show right from its roots till the very end. It was important for the show to get a good actor as there is probably no one else who is going to get as much screen time.
The music has been a disappointment, and it is the one aspect that takes me back to the original wistfully. Each and every time the music came in the original, the words had deep meaning central to the plot at that time while being almost ethereal in their rendering. The music in the 2013 version just does not have that same presence nor does it capture the imagination.
The producers have used the special effects to good use with none of the effects being seen as cheesy or poorly done. This is one area where there is simply no comparison to the original as the special effects industry has moved generation ahead. I am waiting for the final battle to see if the show manages to put a spectacle of destruction the story deserves.
Kudos also must be given to the show makers for not skimping on the locations or the sets being used. The natural locales in particular have been breathtaking throughout the entire show.
One complaint that I have heard some of the ‘hardcore’ Mahabharat fans complain about is how the show is re doing all the same things again in a similar manner rather than taking this opportunity to tackle the story from a different perspective. The Mahabharat after all has a number of different versions all of which are equally interesting.
However, in the defense of the show makers, I think the vast majority of their viewers would react adversely to a different, eventually controversial take on some of their beloved characters.
The reception for the show has been promising as the TRP ratings have been consistent and have put the show in the top 6 fiction shows running on television right now. I as a viewer look forward to the show continuing on much the same path that it has been and hopefully looking forward to moments of brilliance which will lift the show from the middle tier it is stuck in right now.

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