Monday, May 07, 2007

An Epic to top all epics...

The Mahabharata (1989, Director Peter Brook): Rating 9/10

There is no story like the The Mahabharata!! The poem’s incredible length is well know (longer than the two Greek epics The Iliad and The Odyssey combined). But it is the well known characters and immense knowledge that stands out from this epic work -- the tales of Arjun, Krishna, Draupadi, the family feud of Pandavs vs Kauravs and the message of the Bhagavad Gita are known to every Indian. But how many people outside of India know about this tale? The Greek classics and The Bible are still know around the world but works such as The Ramayana and The Mahabharata are largely ignored. Even though this story about family rivalry and the lessons about war are applicable to any culture around the world. But until this multi-nation collaboration, this work would have been restricted to India alone.

In 1988, B.R Chopra & Ravi Chopra’s tv series Mahabharat was a huge success in India. When the tv series was on, the streets were empty; you would be hard pressed to find a soul not in front of a tv. Yet this work was in Hindi and acted by Indian actors, so it was limited to Indian audiences. But Peter Brook’s approach is unique. He has assembled an international cast from a plethora of nations -- India, Japan, Italy, Senegal, Algeria, England, Germany, France, Poland, U.S, to name a few. All the actors speak in English with their original accents. As a result, this removes the work from an Indian namespace and makes it accessible to a universal audience. Brook’s has filmed Jean-Claude Carrière’s adaptation into a staggering 5 hour 25 minute film. The work covers all the major elements of the story and cleverly integrates the writer, Vyasa, into the story as well. That is similar to having Homer show up in a film adaptation of The Odyssey. The different actors enhance the film with their own accent and acting style, as a result, the film is never dull. Truly an epic viewing!!!

Himalaya (1999, Director Eric Valli): Rating 8/10

This is a visually stunning tale about traditions and the cultural way of life in the Dolpo area of Nepal. On the surface the story is about the salt trade but at the core, it is a tale about the clash of cultural ideals – old traditions vs new ideas. To film this against the difficult terrain of the majestic mountains is an immense achievement. On top of that, the film crew have managed to capture the beautiful landscape with all the sights and sounds. The story is good but the visuals are the real attraction of this film.

1 comment:

multisubj yb said...

115,000 condensed into 2/3 hours can do little justice. It will help new persons to know the basic story of mahabharata.