Animated Mahabharat...this one is for kids

MUMBAI: Mahabharat is Jayantilal Gada’s ambitious effort and boasts of the greatest casting coup on Indian screen. In that, the film’s animated characters are modelled on the popular Hindi film stars. And, to complete the effect, the actors themselves have given voice to their screen images.

Mahabharat is said to be the greatest epic ever written and though proud of the tome, not many know how to make kids aware of it! Though in abridged version, a film like this helps. The story, which has inspired many an Indian film scripts, is about Kauravs’ greed, backed by their guile, to rid their cousin, the Pandavs, of their hierarchical right to inherit the kingdom of Hastinapur. The kingdom is ruled by Dhritrashtra, who is blind but the final word is always that of Bheeshma, referred to as Pitamah (Amitabh Bachchan). The villain of the piece is Duryodhan (Jackie Shroff), the eldest of the 100 strong Kaurav clan ably aided by his manipulative maternal uncle, Shakuni (Anupam Kher). Bheeshma is the wise one who loves Arjun and the Pandavs and can see through the devious Duryodhan and Shakuni.

Producer: Dhaval Jayantilal Gada, Kaushal Kantilal Gada.

Director: Amaan Khan.

The trouble starts when Bheeshma announces the appointment of Yudhishthir (Manoj Bajpayee) as the King in waiting by Bheeshma and endorsed by the Kind, Dhritrashtra, thus upsetting Duryodhan who felt he was the rightful heir to his father. Fuel is added to the fire when Arjun manages to win the contest of shooting an arrow at a fish’s eye looking at its image in water in which Duryodhan fails and win the hand of Draupadi (Vidya Balan) in marriage. Duryodhan not only wants to possess Hastinapur but also wants Draupadi for himself.

Draupad and Shakuni start plotting against Pandavs. One of the ploys is to exploit Yudhishthir’s weakness for gambling; he is lured into staking everything including his kingdom and, after losing it all, even Draupadi. What follows is the most dramatic scene Indian myth has ever told, that of disrobing Draupadi by Dushashan and Lord Krishna coming to her aid.

As things emerge, Pitamah decides to offer Pandavs a new territory which Shakuni says should be the Paradise of a land but, actually, is barren and rock laden. However, with the help of lord Indra, the Pandavs turn into heavenly!

However, Duryodhan would not let Pandavs rest in peace. Having tricked them in a gambling game with the help of Shakuni, the Pandavs are sent to 13 years of exile the last year of which being very conditional when they are not to be discovered.

Finally, the Pandavs overcome everything they are ordained to for the sake of principle in which Kauravs don’t believe. Yet, the Kauravs’ overreach finally leads to a war between both the clans with the ever supportive Lord Krishna being with the Pandavs.

Of course, there are side stories of how Draupadi was won and asked to be shared between the brothers, the story of Hidimba and Shakuntala and Abhimanyu. But, they are in passing.

The finale is about the war between Pandavs and Kauravs and Geetasaar by Krishna when Arjun is reluctant to fight his own mentors as well as near and dear ones like Bheeshma. The war scenes are not impressive.

There have been a few attempts before to tell Mahabharat but this one is better. This one has the advantage of impressive artiste participation with Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, Vidya Balan.

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