Mahabharat (1988 TV series)

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Mahabharat
GenreEpic
Created byB. R. Chopra
Based onMahabharata by Vyasa
Written byPandit Narendra Sharma
Rahi Masoom Raza
Screenplay byRahi Masoom Raza
Directed byB. R. Chopra
Ravi Chopra
Creative directorYashwant Mahilwar
StarringNitish Bharadwaj
Mukesh Khanna
Firoz Khan
Puneet Issar
Roopa Ganguly
Pankaj Dheer
Praveen Kumar
Gajendra Chauhan
Gufi Paintal
Narrated byHarish Bhimani
ComposerRaj Kamal
Country of originIndia
Original languageHindi
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes94
Production
Executive producerD.H. Vengurlekar
ProducerB. R. Chopra
CinematographyDharam Chopra
EditorsShailendra Doke
Birpal Singh
Running time40-45 minutes
Production companyB.R. Films
Original release
NetworkDD National
Release2 October 1988 (1988-10-02) –
24 June 1990 (1990-06-24)[1]
Related
Mahabharat Katha

Mahabharat is an Indian Hindi-language epic television series based on the ancient Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. The original airing consisted of a total of 94 episodes[2] and were broadcast from 2 October 1988 to 24 June 1990 on Doordarshan.[3][4][5] It was produced by B. R. Chopra and directed by his son, Ravi Chopra.[6] The music was composed by Raj Kamal. The script was written by Pandit Narendra Sharma and the Hindi/Urdu poet Rahi Masoom Raza, based on the epic by Vyasa. Costumes for the series were provided by Maganlal Dresswala.[7] The serial claims to have used the Critical Edition of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute as its basic source with Vishnu Sitaram Sukthankar and Shripad Krishna Belwalkar as its primary editor.

Each episode is 40–46 minutes long and begins with a title song that consisted of lyrical content and two verses from the Bhagavad Gita.[8] The title song was sung and the verses rendered by singer Mahendra Kapoor. The title song is followed by a narration by Indian voice-artist Harish Bhimani as a personification of Time, detailing the current circumstances and highlighting the spiritual significance of the content of the episodes[9]

Mahabharat Katha, another part of the serial was aired on 1997 which covers all the untold stories about Karna's marriage with Padmavati, Arjuna's marriage with Chitrāngadā and Ulupi, and stories about Ghatotkacha, Barbarika, Vrishaketu, Babruvahana, conspiracies of Viprachitti, Ashwamedha Yajna, Dushala's story and aftermath of the Kurukshetra War, which are not covered in the original series.[citation needed]

Premise[edit]

The series covers the incidents of epic Mahabharata revolving around Krishna, Pandavas, Kauravas among other characters.

The show begins with Emperor Bharata giving more importance to 'Capacity' than to 'Birth'. He shows the birth of Bhishma and his oath, birth of Pandu, Dhritarashtra and Vidur and birth of Pandavas and Kauravas. The story then focuses on the childhood of Lord Krishna.

Elsewhere, Dronacharya teaches Pandavas and Kauravas and asks to defeat Drupad as Guru Dakshina. Pandavas do so and give half of his kingdom to Drona. For revenge, Drupada obtains Dhrishtadyumna and Draupadi. Dhritarashtra makes Yudhishthir the crown prince of Hastinapur. Shakuni (the maternal uncle of the Kauravas) and Duryodhan hatch a plan to burn Pandavas and Kunti alive, but they survive and go into incognito. Duryodhan is made crown prince of Hastinapur.

Arjuna wins Draupadi in her swayamvara but later shows her marriage with all five Pandavas. Later, Yudhishthir is made the king of Indraprastha and Pandavas conduct Rajsuya Yagna where Draupadi insults Duryodhana. Latter shows Duryodhana's revenge by trying to disrobe her and sending Pandavas along with Draupadi for an exile of 12 years and 1 year of anonymity. Duryodhana argues that the Pandavas violated the condition of anonymity in their last year of exile, therefore they must spend another 12 years in exile followed by another year of exile in anonymity. This conflict begins to sows the seed for the Mahabharata War.

Arjun and Subhadra's son Abhimanyu marries Uttara. Krishna tries to make peace between both parties. Indra in the disguise of a Brahmin took Karna's armor and earrings. Kunti's sorrow on the corpse of Karna reveals Karna's true identity of being the eldest Pandava.

Before Mahabharata War, Shri Krishna enlightens Arjuna about the "Bhagavad Gita" and showed his Virata Swaroopa to Arjuna. The latter shows the deaths of Bheeshma, Drona, Karna, Abhimanyu, Shalya, Shakuni, Jayadrata, Ghatotkacha, 100 Kauravas, 5 sons of Draupadi and many other warriors in the war leading to the victory of Pandavas over Kauravas. Gandhari holds Krishna responsible for her son's death and curses that his family will also get destroyed. The show ends with Yudhishthir's Rajyabhishek and Bhishma's death.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

Episodic appearance[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Episode 1 – Introduction of the Kuru dynasty, Bharata and Shantanu, Shantanu and Ganga's marriage

Episode 2 – Ganga kills her seven cursed sons, Bhishma's birth, Ganga and Bhishma leave Shantanu

Episode 3 – Ganga returns Bhishma to Shantanu

Episode 4 – Shantanu and Satyavati's marriage, Bhishma's vow of celibacy & Bhishma's immortality boon, Vichitravirya's birth

Episode 5 – Amba, Ambika and Ambalika's Introduction, Bhishma abducts the three princesses, Bhishma releases Amba while Ambika and Ambalika marry Vichitravirya

Episode 6 – Birth of Pandu, Dhritarashtra and Vidura, Pandu becomes the temporary king.

Episode 7 – Kunti's introduction, Karna's birth and abandonment, Kunti and Madri marry Pandu, Dhritarashtra marries Gandhari

Episode 8 – Adhiratha and Radha's story, Kindama curses Pandu

Episode 9 – Dhritarashtra's coronation, Pandu, Kunti and Madri renounce the throne, birth of the Pandavas.

Episode 10 – Kamsa's cousin Devaki marries Vasudeva and a voice warns Kamsa of his doom

Episode 11 – Birth of Balarama and Krishna

Episode 12 – Nanda and Yashoda adopt Krishna and Putana's Death

Episode 13 – Yashoda witnesses the universe in Krishna's mouth and Krishna gets caught stealing butter

Episode 14 – Krishna's no-butter promise to Yashoda and the defeat of Kaliya

Episode 15 – Radha's relationship with Krishna, protest against Kamsa, Devakasur and Trulambasur's death by Krishna

Episode 16 – Kamsa invites Krishna and Balarama to Mathura

Episode 17 – Krishna kills Kamsa and his assistants; Krishna releases his birth parents and Ugrasena

Episode 18 – Karna's adoption, Pandu and Madri's death, Kunti and her sons return to Hastinapura.

Episode 19 – Satyavati, Ambika and Ambalika quit the kingdom and stay with Vyasa

Episode 20 – Karna grows up; The enmity between the Pandavas and Kauravas begin, Duryodhana Poisons Bhima and Bhima gains the strength of 1000 Elephants

Episode 21 – Sudama reunites with Krishna, Dronacharya arrives at Hastinapur and becomes the royal teacher

Episode 22 – Shastra Pooja begins, Drona rejects Karna, Arjuna becomes Drona's favourite student

Episode 23 – Karna's education under Parashurama, Story of Ekalavya

Episode 24 – The great weaponry test begins, Karna enters the arena

Episode 25 – Karna is crowned as the king of Anga, and Drona asks the Pandavas and Kauravas to capture Drupada as revenge.

Episode 26 – Krishna obtains the Sudarshana Chakra from Parashurama, Jarasandha's birth and Krishna moves to his new kingdom in Dwaraka

Episode 27 – Yudhishthira is crowned as the Crown Prince. Rukmini of Vidarbha is Being Forced to Marry Shishupala

Episode 28 – Krishna Rescues Rukmini and marries her

Episode 29 – The Lac-Palace is built in Varnavata by Purochana as a murder plot on the Pandavas by Duryodhana and Shakuni

Episode 30 – Tunneling in the Lac-Palace Begins, The Lac-Palace catches fire

Episode 31 – Escape from the Lac-Palace, Purochana's death

Episode 32 – Hidimba's death and Bhima's marriage with demoness Hidimbi, Ghatotkacha's birth

Episode 33 – The Pandavas and Kunti move to Ekachakra and Bhima kills Bakasura

Episode 34 – Dhrishtadyumna & Draupadi's Birth and Draupadi's Swayamvar

Episode 35 – Arjuna wins Draupadi and later she becomes the wife of the 5 Pandavas

Episode 36 – Pandavas Leave from Panchala Kingdom to Hastinapur

Episode 37 – Pandavas arrive at Hastinapur and Partition of the kingdom

Episode 38 – Pandavas Get Khandavprastha, Agni's food deal and Krishna and Arjuna's battle with Indra, Mayasura builds a grand palace

Episode 39 – Coronation of Yudhishthira, Khandavprastha Becomes Indraprastha

Episode 40 – Balarama talks about his sister Subhadra's marriage, Arjuna elopes with Subhadra

Episode 41 – Arjuna marries Subhadra, Jarasandha's story

Episode 42 – Jarasandha's murder, Rajasuya Yajna begins, Shishupala's story

Episode 43 – Rajasuya Yajna, Shishupala's death

Episode 44 – Vyasa predicts war between Pandavas and Kauravas, Draupadi laughs at Duryodhana

Episode 45 – Pandavas go to Hastinapur to gamble with Shakuni

Episode 46 – Yudhishthir loses everything in the gambling game

Episode 47 – Draupadi's public undressing, but Krishna saves her

Episode 48 – Dhritarashtra returns the losses incurred by Pandavas

Episode 49 – Re-match between Pandavas and Shakuni

Episode 50 – 12 years of exile Begins

Episode 51 – Chitrasena and the Gandharvas imprison Duryodhana

Episode 52 – Arjuna gets the Pashupatastra from Shiva, Karna conquers the world

Episode 53 – Krishna saves Draupadi from Durvasa using the Akshaya-patra, Bheema meets his son Ghatotkacha and brother Hanuman, Arjuna visits his celestial father Indra and learns dance and music from Chitrasena

Episode 54 – Urvashi curses Arjuna, Abhimanyu's birth, Jayadratha's defeat

Episode 55 – Story of the poisoned lake and the Yaksha's Questions to Yudhishthira, Abhimanyu is Grown-up

Episode 56 – Pandavas' 1 year of incognito beings in Matsya Desh

Episode 57 – Parashurama curses Karna

Episode 58 – Keechaka harasses Draupadi and is killed by Bheema

Episode 59 – Kauravas Attack Matsya kingdom to expose the Pandavas

Episode 60 – Uttar and Arjuna fight in the war and clothes for Uttaraa's dolls

Episode 61 – Abhimanyu and Uttaraa's marriage and Pandavas decide to send a messenger to Hastinapur to prevent war.

Episode 62 – Dhritarashtra does not agree and sends Sanjaya

Episode 63 – Duryodhana and Arjuna meet Krishna at Dwaraka, Duryodhana gets the Narayani Army from Krishna, and Krishna agrees to become charioteer of Arjuna

Episode 64 – Krishna Goes to Hastinapur as a messenger of peace.

Episode 65 – Duryodhana tries to capture Krishna but he shows his Virata form, Karna gives away his holy armour and earrings to Indra

Episode 66 – Karna's true identity is disclosed

Episode 67 – Kunti reunites with Karna

Episode 68 – Sanjaya gets divine eyesight from Vyasa to witness the war

Episode 69 – Duryodhan Tricks Shalya to join the Kaurava army

Episode 70 – Shikhandi's Story of Rebirth

Episode 71 – Rules of the war are laid out, The battle will take place in Kurukshetra

Episode 72 – War begins and Arjuna Drops His weapons out of grief, Krishna teaches him the Bhagavad Gita.

Episode 73 – Bhagavad Gita teaching continues

Episode 74 – Bhagavad Gita teaching continues and Krishna shows his Vishvarupa form, Arjuna is ready to fight again

Episode 75 – Yudhishthira gets his blessings from his elders, Yuyutsu changes sides and war begins, Abhimanyu faces Bhishma

Episode 76 – Uttar dies, Arjuna faces Bhishma and Day 2 begins

Episode 77 – 3rd day is over, 4th day begins, Bhima is surrounded, 10 Kauravas are killed, Krishna takes out his Sudarshan Chakra to kill Bhishma, but Arjuna stops him

Episode 78 – 9th Day is over and 16 Kauravs are dead, Bhishma teaches the Kauravas how to take Arjuna out of the war

Episode 79 – Arjuna shoots arrows at Bhishma, Bhishma's bed of arrows is created, Bhishma still survives

Episode 80 – Karna enters the battlefield, Drona tries to capture Yudhishthira but is unsuccessful, Shantanu appears in Bhishma's dream

Episode 81 – Chakravyuha formation Planned, Duryodhana Promises Susharma

Episode 82 – Abhimanyu's murder; Uttaraa becomes pregnant

Episode 83 – Arjuna Vows to Kill Jayadratha and the Story About Jayadratha's Curse

Episode 84 – Arjuna Breaks the Kamalavyuha formation to attack Jayadratha

Episode 85 – Krishna covers the Sun with his Sudarshana Chakra, Jayadratha's death

Episode 86 – Ghatotkacha enters battle; Karna kills Ghatotkacha by using his Shakti Astra

Episode 87 – Virata and Drupada are killed by Drona, and Drona is killed by Dhrishtadyuma

Episode 88 – Bheema kills Dushashana, Draupadi washes her hair with Dushasana's blood, Karna spares Arjuna's life again

Episode 89 – Karna killed by Arjuna.

Episode 90 – Shakuni and Shalya die, Duryodhana and the Pandavas learn about Karna's truth, Yudhishthira curses Kunti and all womankind to never keep their secrets, Gandhari curses Krishna and his dynasty to doom, Duryodhana gets protected by Gandhari's magic

Episode 91 – Balarama arrives, Bhima and Duryodhana's duel, Duryodhana is fatally wounded, Balarama scolds Bhima but Krishna calms him down

Episode 92 – Duryodhana Dies, War ends, Ashwatthama, Kripa and Kritavarma are the lone survivors, Ashwathama kill the sons of the Pandavas (Upapandavas) and Drishtadyumna, Ashwatthama tries to kill Uttaraa's unborn son, Krishna curses Ashwatthama, Parikshit's birth

Episode 93 – Dhritarashtra and Vidura's discussion about Dharma, Pandavas return to Hastinapur, Dhritarashtra Tries to kill Bhima

Episode 94 – Dhritarashtra, Kunti and Gandhari quit the kingdom. Yudhisthira becomes King of Hastinapur, and Bhishma dies.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

According to production team member Kishore Malhotra, the total cost of producing the series was 9 crore (equivalent to 103 crore or US$13 million in 2023).[10] According to Director Ravichopra each episode was made up of ₹6.5 lakh to ₹7 lakh. Casting for the series began in 1986 and shooting started off in mid-1988.[11] Show was shot mostly at Mumbai's Film City, and the grand battle of Kurukshetra was shot in Rajasthan, with thousands of extras to fill the screen.[6]

The series was initially submitted to the channel for 104 episodes which was later shortened to 94 episodes.[9]

Casting[edit]

15,000 people applied to play different roles in the Mahabharat TV series. The casting team led by Gufi Paintal shortlisted them and called around 1,500 for video screen tests[3] Almost all actors in the series were newcomers, barring Raj Babbar who played King Bharat, Debashree Roy who played Satyavati.[12] Nitish Bharadwaj was chosen by B.R. Chopra, Ravi Chopra, Pandit Narendra Sharma and Rahi Masoom Raza, to play the central role of Krishna, at the age of 23.[13][14] Initially, he was chosen for playing Vidur. But Virendra Razdan was cast for it as B.R.Chopra considered Bharadwaj young to play the role.[15] Then Bharadwaj was offered to play Nakul and Sahadev, but he rejected and wanted to play Abhimanyu. Days later, he was called and finalized to play Krishna.[15] Firoz Khan was chosen to portray the character of Arjuna (which he later adopted as his screen name, to not become confused with a more popular actor of the same name) despite being rejected in auditions.[16] Asian games gold medalist Praveen Kumar was selected to portray Bhima after Chopra was looking for someone "who could look the robust historical character".[17] Around six actresses were shortlisted for the role of Draupadi, including Juhi Chawla, who opted out of the show as she had bagged a film. Ramya Krishnan and Roopa Ganguly were the final names, and at last Roopa Ganguly was chosen, as her Hindi was good.[18] Govinda and Chunky Pandey were signed for the role of Abhimanyu, but they opted out when they bagged films. Later, Master Mayur played the role.[19] Mukesh Khanna who wished to play role of Arjun was initially offered the role of Duryodhan. But later he was signed for Dhronacharya.[20] When Vijayendra Ghadge dropped his role of Bhisma, Khanna got the role of Bhishma.[21] Puneet Issar was offered to play the role of Bheem but was cast as Duryodhan on his wish.[11] The casting director of the show, Gufi Paintal was offered role of Shakuni by the makers of Mahabharat.[22]

Music[edit]

Mahabharat's music was composed by Raj Kamal and lyrics were penned by Pandit Narendra Sharma. Some songs were taken from works of devotional writers like Surdas, Raskhan etc. Apart from main songs there are also several short couplets decoding summary of each episode. All those verse were sung by Mahendra Kapoor.[23][24]

All music is composed by Raj Kamal

No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Ath Shree Mahabharat Katha (Opening Theme)"Mahendra Kapoor04:12
2."Bharat Ki Yeh Kahaani (Ending Theme)"Mahendra Kapoor05:21
3."Beet Gaye Din Par Din Beet Gaye"Raj Kamal05:23
4."Govind Gokul Aayo"Raj Kamal04:49
5."Jagiye Brijraj Kunwar"Kavita Krishnamurthy04:10
6."Main Naahin Maakhan Khaayo"Nitin Mukesh05:20
7."Maiya Mohi Dau Bahut Khijayo"Nitin Mukesh04:00
8."Shyam ne Murli Madhur"Suresh Wadkar05:42
9."Mor Pakha Seer Upar Rakhiyo"Kavita Krishnamurthy04:16
10."Mohan Ke Mukh Par Bansari"Raj Kamal and Kavita Krishnamurthy07:01
11."Binati Suniye Nath Hamari"Sadhana Sargam04:51
12."Beti Chali Paraye Desh"Raj Kamal07:05
13."Kripa Krishna Ki"Raj Kamal07:01
14."Main Boondan Bheeji Saari"Sadhana Sargam04:30
15."Pranay Ke Pratham Prahar Ki Baat"Anuradha Paudwal05:20
16."Samay Bada Balwaan"Raj Kamal05:17
17."Jhanak Jhanak Baaje Payaliya"Sadhana Sargam04:51
18."Manwa Madhur Madhur Kachu Bol"Sadhana Sargam04:04
19."Naino Ke Darpan mein"Roopa Ganguly03:27
20."Sabso Onchi Prem Sagai"Raj Kamal05:44
21."Yeh Dharma Yudh Hain"Raj Kamal10:30
22."Hey Priyatame"Raj Kamal06:16

Broadcast[edit]

In India the series was originally broadcast on DD National. It was shown in the United Kingdom by the BBC,[25] where it achieved audience figures of 5 million.[26][27] It was also the first programme broadcast on BBC Two after its 1991 revamp, but it had also been shown late at night on BBC One the previous year.[citation needed]

The show was again telecast on DD Bharati from 28 March 2020, on DD Retro from 13 April 2020, on Colors TV from 4 May 2020 as well as Star Bharat during the lockdown due to coronavirus.[28][5][29]

Reception[edit]

Ganguly was applauded for her performance in the Vastraharan sequence in which Draupadi is disrobed.[30] Ravi Chopra later disclosed that she was originally weeping while enacting in the Vastraharan sequence and the crew members had to console her later to make her stop.[30][31]|The sequence is often claimed to be the most climactic one of the series.[32] For the sequence Chopra recreated the visual effect of the Vastraharan sequence of Babubhai Mistry's Mahabharat (1965) starring Padmini as Draupadi.[33] His visual effects won more favour than that of the 1965 film and has still been considered by a part of critics to be the most brilliant in line.[34][35] of the most successful television series in Indian television history.[36] In common with the "Ramayana" serial, the broadcasting of a Mahabharat episode was associated with the simultaneous emptying of streets in the cities and people leaving work early to watch it.[37] Along with general audience many big names from Hindi film industry like Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, Hema Malini and Dharmendra also praised the show.[38]

During its rerun in COVID-19 lockdown in India, it became the second most watched Indian TV show after Ramayan (1987).[39] In week 13, it garnered 145.8 million impressions with both morning and evening slots combined on DD Bharati.[40] After Ramayan ended, Mahabharat became the most watched TV show until its end.[41] The series ended with 22.9 million viewership.[41]

Home media[edit]

The series was uploaded onto the website "Rajshri.com" along with its dubbed Tamil version.[42] Home video of the Bengali-dubbed version of this series has been released by Heart Video.[43] In 2019, Pen India Ltd bought the rights of the show and uploaded all the episodes on its devotional YouTube channel Pen Bhakti including its spin-off series Mahabharat Katha.[44][45]

Legacy[edit]

Mahabharat along with Ramayan (1987), became one of the most successful television series based on an epic in Indian television history.

Many actors became popular through their appearances in this series.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "31 years of Mahabharat on Doordarshan: Interesting facts about one of most popular TV shows ever". The Financial Express. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  2. ^ "B.R. Chopra (Indian filmmaker) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
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  4. ^ McLain, Karline (2009). India's immortal comic books: gods, kings, and other heroes. Indiana University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-253-22052-3.
  5. ^ a b "Iconic mythological series 'Mahabharat' to be re-telecast beginning Saturday at 12 and 7 PM". The Times of India.
  6. ^ a b "Remembering BR Chopra: The Story Behind His Iconic 'Mahabharat'". The Quint. 22 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Behind the scenes: Dress designers to actors & deities". The Tribune. 20 April 2003. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  8. ^ Title Song Lyrics from the TV Series Mahabharat, 21 September 2013, archived from the original on 18 March 2017, retrieved 1 December 2014
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  10. ^ Mahabharat Ki Mahabharat: The Making of B.R. Chopra's "Mahabharat"
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