Every decade sees a technological upgrade (read: attempt) to recreate the greatest screenplay on Earth, The Mahabharat, on the small screen. Swastik Productions’ Mahabharat premièred on STAR Plus on September 16th, 2013 and set the record for the most visually appealing portrayal of the Hindu mythology (so far).
The story of Mahabharat is not unknown. The epic story revolves around the kingdom of Hastinapur and the battle of wisdom, sacrifices, right vs wrong, and dharma against adharma, and is the core foundation of one of the largest religions in the world – Hinduism. Since most of the stories attached to the Mahabharat are based on myths and limited historical accuracies, I am not going to get in to the screenplay of this TV series. All I can say is that the story development team has done their job well.
Let’s get in to the two elements that promise to make 2013’s Mahabharat different than what we’ve seen so far, starting with the visuals. Without a doubt, STAR Plus has stepped up and showcased a visually stunning interpretation of the mythology, so far the best use of special effects, cinematography, animation and VFX ever done of the small screen. The show deserves applause for the shots taken in the valleys of Kashmir, elaborated sets and a sophisticated approach at the costumes and accessories with each scene digitally re-mastered. Having said that, though the visuals are the best on the small screen but keeping in mind today’s technology, the show is still a few years behind. The unnecessary digital touch ups, the obvious (and over done) chroma keying are a turn off. I caught a few videos on YouTube with the lowest resolution, and yes, I could easily spot the fakeness in each screen. Artistically, the team has been impressive; the shabby execution is the real deal breaker.
One place where the costume department fails is that they should have realized that the show is shot in HD, retouched in HD, and seen on large (again) HD screens, where every detail is easily visible and highlighted. If I had a dollar for every time I spotted fake nails, safety pins, plastic weapons and utensils, hair pins, and modern jewelry, I could have enough of money to buy a brand new iPad. #FacePalm
The next “something new” of the 2013 Mahabharat is the casting. For an Indian actor to play a character from Mahabharat without over acting, is the toughest challenge. The core foundation of an actor’s job in the show is the dialogue delivery and body language. STAR Plus should have paid a little more attention to this one. Forget the fact that some of the best talents of the TV fraternity are not a part of the show, but even the ones who are, are so underutilized. Agreed, Arav Chowdhary fits the bill as Bhishma, but whose idea was it to cast Sameer Dharmadhikari as Shantanu who lasted only for 2-3 episodes? Dharmadhikari could have been awesome in the powerful role of Bhishma. And is it just me or does Sayantani Ghosh still have what it takes to pull off a younger role? I am eager to see what the rest of the cast unfolds, but so far, not-so good!
I am hooked to the show for the story and it’s a visual relief from the last few Mahabharat TV series (remember the torturous camera slaps aka the Balaji effects on the 9X Mahabharat?) that we’ve seen in the recent past.
Verdict: Watch it for the story and for the technological upgrade that we’ve seen so far on TV. It’s a family treat! Screaming Critics rates Mahabharat a B+ and *** stars.