I have a feeling that Ekta’s Mahabharata will soon cease to be funny and settle down into the solemn blah-ness of all her daytime soaps. Episode 2 contained lots of the familiar camera whooshes and swishes, sudden zooms, intensely irritating combinations of fast and slow motion (often used within seconds of each other), excessive reaction shots and awkward, stilted dialogue. When the key character of Ganga is introduced, the camera lingers on the giant blue sapphires in her earrings and necklace, showing us her face only as a sudden afterthought. (Cameraman slaps self on the forehead: "I knew there was something we were leaving out!")
More worrisome is the interaction between Vyasa and Ganesha. As any Mahabharata enthusiast knows, Ganesha’s pre-condition for agreeing to transcribe Vyasa’s poem is that the thing is recited continuously – no breaks or deviations. To which Vyasa replies that Ganesha must fully comprehend each verse before he sets it down. This is all very well, but midway through the meeting of King Shantanu and the mysterious lady in white who will become his queen, Vyasa interrupts his narrative and teasingly asks Ganesha, “Ab aap yeh soch rahe hoge ki yeh aurat kaun hai aur kya chahti hai?” (“Now you must be wondering who this woman is and what she wants”).
There are two problems with this chatty interlude: one, it means Vyasa has already reneged on his side of the bargain, so Ganesha is entitled to cite breach of contract, tear up the manuscript, clamber onto his rat steed and fly back into the stratosphere whence he came. The second problem is one of insolence. Aren’t Gods supposed to be omniscient? If I were in Ganesha’s sandals, I would have yanked at the sage’s beard for daring to imply that there was something I didn’t already know. (Actually, since Ganesha would have known beforehand that Vyasa was going to ask the question, he could have yanked at his beard without even waiting for him to ask it.)
So the narrative framework of this show will likely be a problem as things progress, and I wouldn't be surprised if the poet and his transcriber are smacking each other on the head by the time we arrive at Book Two. One of the best things about the B R Chopra Mahabharata was its use of Time – represented by a revolving chakra – as a narrator. The two sutradhaars in Ekta’s version display less personality than that wooden wheel.