Ekta Kapoor’s soon-to-be-telecast production of the Mahabharata (retitled Kahaani Hamaaray Mahabharat Ki, kyunki “K” ka hona zaroori hai) promises to change the landscape of mythological serials in much the same way that her daily dramas transformed how we look at Indian families. Some predictions for what we can expect to see on this new show:
– In a case of inventive rewriting, the character of Bhishma, the grand old man who shows more longevity than most of his great-great-grandchildren, will be turned into a woman and played by the actress who enacted the role of the timeless Ba in Kyunki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. This will save the casting directors some trouble.
– Each of Draupadi’s five weddings will be shown in loving detail, over several weeks, with a budget of Rs 200 crore set aside exclusively for the costumes.
– Dramatic twists will abound. During a teary family showdown, it will transpire that Dhritarashtra’s blindness was caused by the cumulative glare from the necklaces worn by the women in his family. After the failure of the vastra-haran attempt, it will be revealed that Draupadi, being a dutiful wife, was wearing all five of her wedding saris at the time. ("No wonder she looks so fat," Duhshasana will remark, causing Bhima to swear the fearsome oath that he will catch hold of Duhshasana one day and force-feed him bean sprouts.)
– There will be at least one cat-fight between Draupadi and Subhadra, with chiffon and jewellery flying about the palace and an emasculated Arjuna watching nervously from a corner of the room. The number of speedy zoom-ins and zoom-outs in this scene will break all previous records for daytime soaps and the episode will win a special achievement prize at a Balaji Telefilms awards show.
– One of the features of an Ekta Kapoor soap is the ostentatious piety of the characters (that is, when they aren’t busy conniving to destroy each others’ lives). This is most notable in scenes where family members gather at the puja room together, fold their hands and moist-eyedly sway their heads in unison as celestial music plays on the soundtrack. In Kahaani Hamaaray Mahabharat Ki, where one of the key characters is God Himself, this sort of behaviour will cause serious disruptions in the plot. Each time Krishna enters a room, everyone will stand in a line and start singing bhajans loudly. These scenes will buy the scriptwriters a few weeks’ time to plan the next plot twist.
– Unfortunately, the censor board will disallow the scene where Krishna and his family fold their hands and sway piously in front of statues of the Kapoor family.
– Wherever possible, sentences will begin with “K” words. For instance, when Satyavati is asked why her son, the vagrant scribe, doesn’t live with her in the palace, she will reply, “Kyunki Vyas bhi kabhi sadhu tha.”
– There will be unexpected promotional guest appearances at crucial points. Midway through the episode showing the death of Abhimanyu, Tusshar Kapoor will appear onscreen to announce the forthcoming release of his new film ChakraView.
– Though the Mahabharata war lasted 18 days, it will take six years’ worth of episodes to telecast, because of the Principle of Reaction Shots, crucial to any Balaji serial. Each time a character shoots an arrow at another, we will be shown reaction shots of every man, horse, elephant and vulture on the battlefield. These scenes will make the pace of Ramanand Sagar’s soporific Ramayana comparable to that of an Indiana Jones film.
– The arrows will, of course, travel in slow motion; the more important ones like the Brahmastra will take at least four episodes to reach their target. But since the weapons will be dressed in colourful saris, viewers won’t mind.
It is said of the Mahabharata that “what is not here is nowhere to be found”. The tagline for Kahaani Hamaaray Mahabharat Ki will be “what is here is nowhere else to be found”.