Thursday, December 6, 2007

Peter Brook's Mahabharata (1989)

Having grown up on rich legends from the Mahabharata and on B.R. Chopra's definitive TV version, it required me to summon an open mind to appreciate The Mahabharata by Peter Brook .

The original epic is more complex than it initially appears. The account of the epic battle (Kurukshetra) between the good (Dharma) and evil (Adharma) led by victorious Pandavas against the mighty Kauravas is, in reality, a reflection on the duality of human nature.

Peter Brook's version, on the other hand, is shot more in the style of a play - with minimalist sets, costumes and interpretations. This approach helps avoid expected, and unexpected, distractions - which is the film's main asset. Plus, it tells the story in its purest form - outside of its physical and geographical trappings. The result is as timeless as the epic itself.

A conventional and straightforward interpretation of an otherwise multifaceted epic, it still makes for absorbing viewing (barring some minor irritants). The 6 hour viewing time seemed only like an instant, or two. And that's testimony from someone who pressed the play button as a die hard skeptic.

[Original pic by HGM]