PETER BROOK, the famous Royal Shakespere Company Director, has produced the Great Indian epic MAHABHARATA..He had earlier staged it as a dance-drama, based upon which the film was perceived.With an International cast and simplistic settings and a narrative style of presenting the characters, it has a dream like quality.
The story has been extremely well presented with a lot of care given for details.... it truly captures the essence of the Mahabharata..
ABOUT MAHABHARATA THE EPIC
THE MAHABHARATA, considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of literatures...... is one of the two major epics of ancient India, the other being THE RAMAYANA...
With more than 74,000 verses, long prose passages, and about 1.8 million words , THE MAHABHARATA is one of the longest epic poems in the world....It is revered by HINDUS as it is a major text of HINDUISM.
At 100,000-stanza Sanskrit poem, more than 10 times longer than the Bible, it's one of the oldest and most sacred works of Indian literature...
However it is not a religious scripture, in fact Hinduism is more a way of life than a Religion....MAHABHARATA literally translates "The Great Tale Of Bharata Dynasty "..
There is rather an interesting story about the writing of Mahabharata..
It is believed to have been written by VEDA VYASA , the Great saint taking the help of GANAPATHY, (the God with the Elephant head.)It is been told that ,Ganesha(as Ganapathy is fondly referred to) is said to have agreed to write it only on the condition that Vyasa never pause in his recitation. Vyasa agreed, on his own condition, that Ganesha took the time to understand what was said before writing it down....Vyasa himself belonged to the Bharata dynasty...
The earliest known references to Mahabharata have been made in the 4th century BC...
THE STORY OF MAHABHARATA
First and foremost, this is one epic, where the women of those times reigned supreme.They were as powerful or even more powerful than the men surrounding them.They were consulted and their suggestions and advice given due importance in the matters of State and governance.
In No instance does one come across a lady having 5 husbands as DRAUPADI did in Mahabharata,( she was married to the 5 PANDAVA BROTHERS)with the consent of the family... and she is considered to be an ideal woman till date. There are temples built in her name and she is worshipped and remembered by Hindu ladies on certain occasions...in fact she is instrumental in the destruction of the Kauravas and the Great war of Kuruksethra..
The main story of the Mahabharata is the Feud between two Royal brothers of KURU clan and their families, the struggle for the Throne of HASTINAPURA, the Kuru kingdom.The Two families are the PANDAVAS and The KAURAVAS...
The story begins one generation earlier with King SHANTANU , who falls in love with GANGA( Ganges, the river goddess)and marries her.But after delivering a son BHEESHMA, Ganga leaves Shantanu after he breaks a promise, never to return to her husband.Bheeshma himself never marries and vows to take care of the throne and the Kingdom.
He helps his nephews DHRITARASHTRA and PANDU with their duties of the throne and looks after the large family .
Dhritarashtra marries GANDHARI and has a 100 sons.
Pandu marries KUNTI and MADRI and has 5 sons through them.
There is constant rivalry between them right from childhood .The Pandavas are at the receiving end while the Kauravas led by DURYODANA, constantanly torment them.Pandavas being Braver and being loved by all the elders in the court makes the Kauravas jealous of them, and there is constant friction between the two.
After the death of Pandu ,there are intricate plots laid by DURYODANA, the elder son of Dhritarashtra to kill the Pandavas, at one stage they escape a bid to burn them alive and go into hiding along with their mother.It is during this time that ARJUNA, One of the Pandavas wins the Hand of DRAUPADI , a beautiful princess, who later marries all the brothers, namely YUDHISHTIRA, BHEEMA,NAKULA , SAHADEVA and of course Arjuna...
Bheeshma sensing the danger to the Pandavas who are his favorite grandchildren, calls the Pandavas back and divides the Kingdom and asks them to live in peace.The eldest Pandava YUDHISHTIRA builds a new City for himself and his brothers called INDRAPRASTHA.He is respected by all the other kings . This makes the Kauravas jealous and angry, and they wait for a chance to bring the Pandavas down.
Arjuna marries SUBADRA , sister of KRISHNA(LORD VISHNU). The Pandavas are helped and advised by Krishna at all times.
But the Kauravas trick the Pandavas again in a game of dice and humiliate Draupadi trying to disrobe her in front of the entire court, while Krishna comes to her rescue. .She pledgess to take revenge against Dhuryodana and to destroy him and his entire clan.
Having lost the dice game, The Pandavas are required to go into exile for 13 years, and for the 13th year must remain hidden. If discovered by the Kauravas, they will be forced into exile for another 12 years...
At the end of their exile, they come back to Indraprastha. However, Duryodhana objects saying that they were discovered while in hiding, and that no return of their kingdom was agreed. War becomes inevitable as negotiations by the elders like Bheeshma,Krishna and others fail..
THE BATTLE OF KURUKSHETRA
Both the sides prepare for the war .It is friends against friends and relatives against relatives. When Arjuna sees Bhishma and his Guru DHRONA on the side of Kauravas , he is totally dejected , saddened at the thought of loosing his relatives and friends ,and decides not to fight the war....
But Krishna talks to him and makes him realise his duty by telling him
about the truth of life and the duty of man at different stages of his life...This was the famous BHAGAVAD GITA, the thoughts and ideas are relevant even today .It has inspired scores of great scholars and thinkers from diverse backgrounds...It is the book of wisdom that every Hindu household possesses..The eternal truth of life..
After hearing Krishna's words Arjuna comes to realise, that he has to do his duty no matter what happens and without any consideration for the outcome, as, that i what is required of him at that time..
The Battle of Kurukshetra went on for 18 days, at the end of which the entire Kaurava clan is destroyed and Pandavas win the war.However it is not a happy victory, as they have lost many near and dear ones, which make them renounce everything and go to Himalayas to pray and spend their life there..and they all end their life there..
PETER BROOK has adopted the story of Mahabharata and his adaptation is very different to any that ,the viewers have seen so far.Most of the films and serials have been made on a grand scale with rich costumes and opulent sets and high level drama.
Whereas in Peter Brooks adaptation, there is simplicity and the characters are more down to earth, the costumes are simple and so are the sets..
It is a totally different experience for viewers who have watched the previous adaptations of Mahabharata...However, Peter Brook has remained faithful to the story and though, the mood is subdued , there is no compromise on story line . the actors are all brilliant, the casting is perfect with actors coming from various countries and belonging to various race....it is a true work of beauty and an exhilirating experience to watch this version of Peter Brook..
The sets have been kept to a basic and simple level, giving more prominence to dialogue delivery ...All in all a unique experience..
DETAILS OF THE DVD
Actors: Erika Alexander, Maurice Bénichou, Amba Bihler, Lou Bihler, Urs Bihler
Directors: Peter Brook
Format: Color, Full Screen, HiFi Sound, NTSC
Run Time: 337 minutes
This DVD is not to be missed for its uniqueness and an enriching experience ...