Cast (Voices of): Amitabh Bachchan as Bheeshma, Shatrughan Sinha as Lord Krishna, Ajay Devgn as Arjun, Anil Kapoor as Karna, Sunny Deol as Bheem, Manoj Bajpayee as Yudishthir, Jackie Shroff as Duryodhana, Vidya Balan as Draupadi and Anupam Kher as Shakuni.
Director: Amaan Khan
Rating: 4 Star Rating: Recommended4 Star Rating: Recommended
Make no mistake. The makers of Mahabharat make it amply clear, at the outset that they are targeting the young audience of India. And how exactly do they tell you that? Before we are transported to the world of Hastinapur and Kurukshetra, we are introduced to two young boys of school going age, who are fighting over a gold coin right outside the Gateway of India. Enter an eagle or some bird who looks like one, who then proceeds to give a moral science lesson on why two brothers should not be fighting over a gold coin. The eagle goes on to narrate the story of the Mahabharat to the two boys who are all ears.
Today’s kids are obviously smarter, sharper and a lot more impatient to get sucked into a story which opens to them in this sort of unappetising manner. Nobody wants a lecture right in the beginning. They have also not grown up watching DD’s ‘Ek chidiya’ type of what-we-used-to-call-cartoon films. Grown up on a diet of gaming and easy access to internet they would need something a lot more alluring than what Amaan Khan’s Mahabharat has to offer. The effort though not bad never rises above the ordinary.
Nobody really expected Mahabharat to offer anything close to Hollywood standard but when you have worked on a film for seven years like how the makers of Mahabharat claim, at least ensure you can tell a story engagingly.
The animation effort is at best amateur and at place drawing too much attention to it because of it being gaudy. The final battle scenes should have been a display of spectacular technical wizardry but it’s not. Sadly, you are reminded of the two arrows colliding in Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and Ramayan was made before BR Chopra’s televised Mahabharat. It almost looks like they just needed to get over with it once the Kurukshetra war starts. Honestly, by this time, even you are hoping it gets over fast and soon.
What is praiseworthy though is a list of stellar movie stars lending their weighty voices to major characters in Mahabharat. Getting Amitabh Bachchan to dub for Bheeshma Pitamah was one of the best decision taken for this film. His baritone is apt for the father figure that Bhishma plays to both Pandavas and Kauravas. You can gauge the delight that Anupam Kher displays in voicing the cunning and scheming Shakuni mama. Vidya Balan, as the voice of Drauapdi was a good choice and there are places where she does take the drams to a different level with the intonation in her voice. Deepti Naval as the voice of Kunti is lackluster and so is Jackie Shroff as the voice of Duryodhan. Shroff’s voice just did not have the menacing quality that the main antagonist of this epic story should have. The rest of the voices are just about okay.
Another good point is that the film does away with unnecessary sub plots. For example the story of Eklavya does not find a mention in it at all because it is not vital to the ultimate fight between good and evil. Having said that, there is a touch-and go-mention of Shikhandi’s character who ultimately becomes the reason for the death of Bheeshma. Something like this needed a bit more explanation.
Also if your target is kids, you try as much as possible to keep the language simple. You better find a simpler way of saying “woh pratishodh ki agni mein jal rah tha.
Back to the two young boys once again. At a point in the film one tells the other — “Ruk, ruk mujhe kuch samajh mein nahin aa raha hai. Bahut confusion hai.” Hope the young audience for whom the film is intended does not end up saying that about this film.