antarkatha – inner story through music & art

Charsur recently conducted a 3-day series on the theme ‘antarkatha’, an inner story through music and art. There was a great line-up of artists and, added to it, it was being held at the recently-renovated Rasika Ranjani Sabha, which I was yet to visit. I was pretty curious and attended this event on Days 2 and 3.

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The theme of Day 2 was ‘Muddu Krishna’ (or Bala Krishna) performed by Sriram Parasuram (narration and singing), Nisha Rajagopalan and K Gayatri on vocals, Nishanth Chandran on violin, Poongulam Subramaniam on Mridangam, Srikrishna & Ganesh Rao on harmonium and tabla. The artist illustrating the story was Keshav, whose cartoons appear everyday in The Hindu.

The programme started with Sriram Parasuram singing mArgazhi thingaL. Keshav, on his corner of the stage, started sketching something out with pencil. There appeared to be the form of Krishna, a couple of cows and a small girl. Though the concept of the programme was supposed to be bringing out the leelas of little Krishna through music and art, the music part turned out to be mostly like any other concert, with the addition of Sriram saying a few words about each composition. One interesting fact that he pointed out was that many songs, though they start out singing about ‘bAla’ Krishna, spell out the stories from the later parts of his life as well (example: bAlagOpAlA in Bhairavi by Dikshitar). Another new thing I learnt was that the rAgam hindOLam means ‘to swing freely together’ (with Krishna 🙂 ). Sriram said that it is as if the rAgam is made for Krishna and inspired by Krishna. Sriram, Nisha and Gayatri (excellent rendition of Bhairavi alapana and bAlagOpAlA) took turns in singing compositions (full list below) while Keshav’s canvas started to bring out in vivid strokes, Krishna’s graceful form, his beloved cows, a little girl (Radha?), Yashoda and a little Krishna running towards Yashoda. With the pastel shades of black and orange, the brilliant-and-beautiful form of Krishna took a life of its own while we heard songs singing his glory. A very interesting experiment on the whole when the audience got to enjoy not only the sounds and words, but also got a visual experience. We do get to experience the musicians’ creativity in concerts through kalapanaswaras, alapana, etc., but when an artist wields his drawing instruments, we are left to wonder how the final form was conceived in the artist’s mind starting with a completely blank canvas, how his hands execute the ideas from his brain and if and how he reacts to the music and words that were flowing from the other side of the stage. I did not stay till the end of this programme but the concept impressed me enough to come back the next day.

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Image courtesy: https://twitter.com/keshav61/status/923744035826630656 (you can find more beautiful sketches of Krishna by Keshav on his Twitter)

1. mArgazhi thingaL – nAttai – ANdAL – Sriram
2. bAla sarasa muraLi – kIravANi – UtthukkAdu venkatasubbaiyar – outline – Nisha
3. srI vENugOpAlA – kurinji – dIkshitar – Gayatri
4. sAmaja vara gamanA – hindOLam (meaning: to swing freely together) – tyAgarAja – AlApana, swarams – Sriram
5. srI rAjagOpAla bAla – sAvEri – dIkshitar – AlApana, neraval – Nisha, Gayatri
6. jamunA kinArE mOrA gAon – misra kalyAN – ? – Sriram
7. bAlagOpAlA – bhairavi – dIkshitar – AlApana, swarams – Gayatri, Nisha
8. kAkkai chiraginilE – brindAvana sArangA – bhArati – outline – Nisha
9. tAyE yasOdA – tOdi – UtthukkAdu venkatasubbaiyar – Sriram

Day 3

Day 3’s programme was called ‘Story in concert’. The description given in the pamphlet that was distributed the previous day did not quite give away what it was about. While introducing the artists, Charubala of Charsur said that it was Jayanthi Kumaresh’s idea to do a ‘story in concert’. From that idea sprang a full 3-day festival, which Charsur chose to call the ‘antarkatha – inner story through music and art’. Jayanthi’s idea was to present a story in a concert through different media – song, percussion, words (story), painting. Jayanthi Kumaresh played the Veena (rather her Veena enacted the part of the Veena 😉 ), Vidhya Anand transported us to Ambi’s world through her story ‘The Mystery of the Missing Veena’, K U Jayachandra Rao played the Mridangam, Pramath Kiran played the tabla and morsing, and Neernalli Ganapathy from Hubli brought to life with his lightning-fast strokes each episode of ‘The Mystery of the Missing Veena’. The programme invoked hearing drama on radio, reading a comic book, listening to a concert, listening to fusion music and simply listening to a grandmother’s tale all rolled into one. Perfectly conceptualised and perfectly executed. Vidhya Anand narrated the story in colloquial Tamil, interspersed with some English, just as we speak, starting with ‘Once upon a time… ‘.

There lived a little boy called Ambi with his parents, periamma and periappa. He was fond of his Lalitha periamma, who pampered him and was more of his friend except for that magical time after lighting the lamp in the evening, when she took out her Veena for her daily sadhaka, which left Ambi in so much awe and wonder that he would only peep from behind a door or a window to see his periamma practising with that aura. We could imagine Jayanthi Kumaresh transforming into Lalitha and her Veena played the Sankarabharanam varnam, while we saw within the span of that five minutes the back view of little Ambi standing hesitantly in a room, looking out from the window at the form of his periamma playing the lilting swarams of Sankarabharanam on her Veena. Neernalli Ganapathy was a magician. With a thread(?) and some paint, he could create a marvel in a span of minutes, bringing to life the little details of our little Ambi’s world, perfectly in sync with the duration of the song.

As Ambi grew more and more in love with the music and the Veena, he boldly asked his periamma one day to teach him the Veena. His periamma agreed to teach on two conditions: 1. he would practise for two hours every morning before school and 2. practise for two hours every evening after coming back from school. Ambi, after much thought, agreed to it, pushing away thoughts of his play time that he would have to give up in order to do this. And so began Ambi’s journey with the Veena. A song in Malahari was one of his first lessons. Jayanthi’s Veena now transformed to Ambi’s Veena playing the song and we saw the next canvas creating the scene of Ambi and Lalitha seated with their respective veenas, playing Malahari. Yet again, the painting was complete just as the last strains of Malahari flowed from the Veena.

Lalitha’s Veena was not just any other Veena. It was a 150-year-old Veena handed down over generations and Lalitha took great care of it. When she became very old, she gave it to Ambi so that he could continue playing on that. Ambi, by now, had become a true vidwan. He would not perform in public, but whenever he played the Veena, one sensed the magic of the world that he was creating through his Veena. He had learnt to play rare ragams like kAntAmaNi – a melakartha ragam that sounded like a beautiful amalgamation of kalyANi and sucharitrA. Jayanti outdid herself playing this beautiful ragam. Neernalli Ganapathy painted a picture that invoked nature, sculpture and art through Ambi’s Veena.

In the meantime, Lalitha had passed away. Ambi was working as a Data scientist and got an opportunity to move to Mumbai from his beloved Madras. He couldn’t stand parting from his Veena and decided to take it with him. He arranged for a separate cargo to take it to his new Mumbai house. And so Ambi began his new life in Mumbai waiting eagerly for his Veena at 3106, 10th Main, Shanti Vihar. The rest of his luggage arrived within a couple of days but his Veena seemed to be missing without a trace. The courier company had no answer and could only keep assuring him that they were ‘trying to locate it’. Ambi was anxious, and dreaded what would have happened to his precious Veena. His heart was playing its agitated tani avartanam – Jayachandra Rao and Pramath played a very different kind of tani avartanam that would have fitted perfectly as a background music to any movie scene showing the emotions of an Ambi-like character. Meanwhile, the artist was drawing what looked like a modern guy with torn jeans, t-shirt, earrings on one ear, playing the Veena in an awkward position sitting cross-legged in an angle with a thought-bubble that showed a guitar inside it. The audience was left wondering who this person was. There seemed to have been a bit of a confusion since Neernalli Ganapathy did not know Tamil, so he wasn’t sure of the exact scene being narrated, but this also added an element of mystery to the audience.

We would discover who that young man was after that sprightly tani avartanam. John, residing at 3106, 10th Main, Shanti Vilas, received a big box one day. He was a confused electric guitarist playing in a jazz band and simply assumed that someone had sent that box as a gift. On opening the same, he found this ‘strange’ instrument, the name of which he had no clue. After googling about Indian instruments, he found out that it was the Saraswati Veena. Something drew him to the instrument, so he started trying to play it. Not in the Carnatic style, but in his chaste electric guitar style. And, once again, Jayanti’s Veena acquired its new character of an electric guitarist’s Veena. Jayanti played some completely non-Carnatic jazzy music which sounded absolutely delightful, while Neernalli Ganapathy recreated the torn-jeans-earring-adorned John once again playing the Veena, while Ambi was terribly worried about his Veena, since it was over a month since he moved to Mumbai.

Finally, Ambi received a call from the courier company informing him that the Veena had been delivered to 3106, 10th Main, Shanti Vilas instead of Shanti Vihar and they could return it to him in a couple of days. Ambi couldn’t wait that long. He immediately noted the address and drove down to the current residence of his cherished 150-year old Veena. And there he was greeted by John and his amazing music studio. He was glad that his Veena had somehow found its way to a musician’s house. John was way too curious and had gotten very attached to the Veena with his recent experiments that he wouldn’t let Ambi simply pick up the Veena and leave. He asked Ambi to tell him more about this instrument. Jayanti (as Ambi) spoke eloquently about the history of the Veena – an ancient instrument with an important place in Indian culture with all gods and goddesses playing this instrument, its form as a reincarnation of the human body itself, the positive vibrations that are generated (destroying any negative vibrations that may be present) when one plays the Veena and the peace that it brings to the listeners, the incredible amount of multitasking that a person playing the Veena has to do in terms of keeping the beat with one hand, remembering the notes and playing them with the other hand and keeping the spine straight – a great exercise for children that could help them improve their learning capabilities and concentration. The Veena has not changed form for a long time now. If one has a Veena at home, it does bring positive vibrations, but it should be regularly played and one should never keep a broken Veena at home.

After hearing this, John really wanted to hear Ambi play the Veena the way it is supposed to be played. And Ambi launched into a Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Kharaharapriya that totally blew John away. It was as if Saraswati herself was playing the instrument. By the time the Tanam was done, Neernalli Ganapathy had already created a masterpiece of Saraswati standing in a graceful reclining pose, playing the Veena. John and the audience were really left with no words.

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Thus, Ambi was reunited with his missing Veena. In a few days, his doorbell rang and he was pleasantly surprised to see John with a new Veena in his hand. John wanted to learn the Veena from Ambi. And so continues the story of music – passing from one generation to another, taking in its stride countless musicians, artists, storytellers, and the millions of hearts of enamoured and overwhelmed and blessed rasikas. As Madhyamavati poured out from the Veena before the curtains would close, I felt the bliss of having experienced a unique programme by outstanding artists (kudos also to Vidhya Anand for a truly engaging storytelling with ‘natural’ dialogues and expressions), that gratified all the senses, and I revelled in the magic of art.

 

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Pre-determinism

If this moment was already pre-ordained,
That I would write these words,
That I would smile thinking that thought,
That in some corner of the globe right now,
There is a person laughing out loud,
Another crying out loud,
Someone ranting mindlessly,
Someone giving the most inspirational speech,
If it were all pre-ordained,
What do you and I have to worry about?
Ah, you might say that this worry too is pre-ordained,
But isn’t it your mind that is worrying?
What are you doing?
Just watch your mind,
Following its pre-ordained course,
Rushing through the forest of objects,
Streaming its incessant emotions,
Carrying along the boat of thoughts,
Unto that unknown destination.
It’s just a beautiful picture – let it be.
You go on, not worrying about the past or the present or the future,
It’s the mind’s job.
You go on,
For thou art that not.

Kaatru Veliyidai – An assault on the senses

Spoilers ahead…

It is oft-said that no two people watch the same movie (even though they ‘see’ the same movie, they ‘experience’ different movies). To me, a movie is an experience that goes beyond the 2-3 hours that I spend watching it. A Mani Ratnam movie never fails to create this experience – the impact of watching the film lasting much longer than the duration of the film, as one tries to unravel the layers built into that final package, making sense of dialogues, fitting scenes into the neat little theories that we have already made for Mani Ratnam (mirrors, trains, rains, his trademark romance, sharp dialogues), being in awe of the technical superiority of the whole film, and more and more these days, what is new that Mani Ratnam is attempting (the switching between the past and present in Alaipayuthey, the completely offbeat editing style of Raavan(an), what is left unsaid, and so on).

The opening sequence, shot in grey and the fonts that looked like they were dripping with blood and ending with VC being captured as a prisoner of war, created a dramatic start to the movie. Contrasting that was the casual conversation that followed between VC and Girija that ended in an unexpected edge-of-life moment in all senses. A brilliant start to the gripping first half – tightly packed with plenty of songs and the chemistry building up between the two in lots of ‘Mani Ratnamesque’ moments – Leela going in search of VC to his ‘camp’ reminiscent of Karthik going in search of Shakti to her ‘camp’. ‘Naa ippo duty la irukken’ pops up here verbatim – a dialogue that we heard in Alaipayuthey too from a doctor when she gets a call from her lover 🙂

As in all of Mani’s movies, the supporting characters steal the show here too with a few scenes – Leela’s friend and Elias (RJ Balaji plays the part perfectly). Mani Ratnam uses both of them to understand and ponder over what’s going on in Leela’s mind and, of course, providing us his trademark comic relief with just a couple of ‘natural’ dialogues. The dialogues in the last scene between the two too are crisply written.

A R Rahman outperforms himself yet again with the songs and the background music. It is sheer magic to experience the music unfold throughout the movie. In this movie too, he utilises one of his oft-used and effective techniques of using the song in a slightly different form as a background score, carrying over the emotions and the lingering moments (a reflection, really, of how nothing truly leaves us – we continue to carry the emotions from the past and they surely express themselves in different ways – as strengthening of a bond, as the doubts that creep in when faced with a decision to make; how music never leaves us – the much subtler carrier of emotions than words and thoughts and action): ‘Vaan’ at the beginning, ‘Tango’ instrumental reinterpretation in a scene that follows the song and AR Rahman’s humming at those moments when VC is the most vulnerable, including that last scene.

There are lot of ManiRatnamesque moments throughout the movie. One such is the conversation between Karthi and another officer over a beer about comparing the war with Pakistan to Mahabharata, which also portrays clearly VC’s attitude to everything in life. Mani relishes in showing the beautiful little joys of life that we derive from art – humming while going about one’s work around the house, just gathering of a group of friends where singing, dancing happens naturally (and it’s not just a group of friends here but a group of officers strongly bound together away from home and who face war day in and day out), reciting Bharatiyar poetry. All this made me reminiscent of that brilliant single shot of Vedic chanting, Carnatic music lessons and Bharatanatyam lessons happening at the river bank at the break of dawn in Thalapathy.

Mani has talked about the evolution of the urban women in our society with time: from Divya (Mouna Ragam) to Shakti (Alaipayuthey) to Tara (OK Kanmani) who were more and more empowered to make their choices. Here, we can see the evolution in the way some of his other characters think as well. In 2004, Aayitha Ezhuthu was a new age and ahead-of-its-time story even for that time, with Michael reacting with surprise and not shock or shame when Esha says that she may be pregnant. Mani tracks the further evolution of that attitude in this film. There is a casual offhandedness about a pregnant bride and VC saying that he will marry only after the birth of his first child (which may actually come true, if Leela ever agrees to marry him).

The core of the film is Leela and VC’s intense relationship. This is the first film of both Karthi and Aditi that I watched and was blown away by both their performances, especially Karthi’s. He can be the charming wooer and it’s no surprise that Leela falls for him, especially given her ‘fandom’ from her school days after hearing about VC through her brother. The initial scenes of their getting together are crafted beautifully. The songs accentuate every emotion. Mani is no stranger to weaving his story with songs and those short dialogues within the songs (Yaaro Yaarodi, Yakkai Thiri/Fanaa). ‘Tango’ does that perfectly yet again. Formal dancing in the Armed Forces, it seems, is a remnant of the British culture that is there even today. After one of their first tussles, his coming to her home and wooing her back with Nallai Allai was beautifully picturised. It actually didn’t seem out of place at that point since we had already been introduced to his influences of Bharatiyar and Tamizh and interest in music. This scene was immediately followed by him bragging to his friends about getting her back – another glimpse of how things would continue to evolve throughout the course of their relationship.

The whole relationship is complex, intense, passionate, exposing both their vulnerabilities and strongheadedness. He doesn’t really seem to care about anyone but himself, but he does care about her at some level – it was too buried amidst everything else for it to come through. He was a work in progress at the beginning of the film and he still seemed to be so at the end. On the other hand, Leela struggles with herself throughout the movie unable to be without him and unable to be with him. The discovery that she is pregnant (another brilliant piece of acting by Karthi when he shows with just the change in the expression in his eyes that he discovers that she is pregnant) and his answer to her Yes or No question finally seemed to force her to take the step of separating herself from him. Even at the end, Leela introduces VC as Varun and not Appa to their child (she does name her Rohini as he had wanted for their imaginary twins (Rohan and Rohini)). Does this mean that she doesn’t entirely believe that he has changed? That it was just another episode in their alternatingly passionately loving and suffocating relationship? That she had outgrown him in those three years, that she was already prepared when she decided to have her child that she doesn’t ‘need’ him? I felt the transformation in her rather than in him in that last scene although she tells him that the child is his ‘poruppu’. A very classy and understated performance by Aditi.

Though the scenes that show VC at work and even during his first flight with Leela gave a glimpse, I felt that it did not help us understand more about the officers in the Armed forces and what they go through in their job. There was a lot of buildup about this in the promotion of the movie before the release, but that didn’t quite come through. Just enough was maybe retained to understand why Karthi was an extreme character. And that, I think, made the whole sequence of events leading from their capture to escape even weaker. There was no suspense in their escape and it seemed to happen matter-of-factly. This was the weakest part of the film.

Kaatru Veliyidai, in short, was an assault on the senses in all possible ways – the highs of the music throughout (the soul-stirring humming by Rahman in key scenes including the last one, which stays with you long after (another ‘impact’ of the film)), breathtaking visuals that are weaved into the story and don’t stand out just because they were shot in scenic locations, a complete transportation to the look, sound, feel of being amidst snow-capped mountains, the intense chemistry between the two, the emotional highs and lows, and the frustratingly simple sequence of events leading to their escape from Pakistan.

I would rather watch a Mani Ratnam film any day, however flawed it may be, than watching a film by someone else. Mani always celebrates the joy of life, and in this film, he goes a layer beneath and the joy, though present, is more elusive, as we also tend to experience in the stark reality of life.

P.S. At Escape (Express Avenue, Chennai), where I watched this movie, at least two scenes were not shown (they seem to have been shown in other places/theatres): death of Leela’s grandfather and the dinner table confrontation between VC and Leela’s parents. Wonder if this was a last-minute cut to the film to fit it into 140 minutes, as some news articles report. Would have felt more complete watching these important scenes which seemed to have shown VC in his worst element.

What if someone other than Voldemort had cast Avada Kedavra on Harry Potter?

I have been pondering this question of late. From the information that JK Rowling has given us from the Harry Potter books, what is expected to happen (or not) if someone other than Voldemort had cast Avada Kedavra on Harry (while Harry was still a Horcrux)?

There are several aspects to be considered before answering this question. Firstly, Harry’s body does not contain only his soul but also Voldemort’s, i.e. Harry Potter = Harry Potter’s body + Harry Potter’s complete soul + Voldemort’s one-eighth soul.

Next, Avada Kedavra seems (http://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/65638/what-type-of-damage-does-avada-kedavra-do) to make the body on which it is cast lifeless and separates the soul from the body (in a single-souled body). Therefore, assuming that Avada Kedavra can make the body lifeless, which soul(s), if any, would an Avada Kedavra separate from Harry’s body? Would souls have the choice of their fate? To move on or be a ghost maybe. (As an aside, are the talking portraits some form of a ‘Horcrux’?)

But then, Harry is a Horcrux, that is, he’s a container for Voldemort’s soul. Applying the rule for destruction of Horcruxes, he cannot be destroyed simply by Avada Kedavra. However, which part of ‘Harry’ is the container for Voldemort’s soul? Is it Harry’s body only? If it’s Harry’s body only, then the Avada Kedavra should not be able to have the usual effect it would have on a body of making it lifeless (which can be thought of as rendering the container incapable of holding a soul). If it’s not Harry’s body only but also his soul, then, well, the container (= Harry’s body + soul) cannot also be destroyed by Avada Kedavra. Therefore, the Avada Kedavra is not expected to produce the effect of making Harry’s body lifeless when it is cast by someone other than Voldemort. Consequently, Voldemort’s one-eighth soul cannot be destroyed by casting Avada Kedavra on Harry.

Finally, Harry’s blood runs in Voldemort’s body as well – which is a sort of Harry’s Horcrux, so Harry cannot die. Therefore, Avada Kedavra, if was cast by someone other than Voldemort, even if it manages to separate his soul from his body, since his body cannot be made lifeless, could he have just flipped back to his body?

What exactly happened when Voldemort cast Avada Kedavra on Harry in the forest? Harry’s body, I think, couldn’t be made lifeless since it was the Horcrux-container. However, both souls split from the body. And Harry and Voldemort respectively went into the ‘after-life/limbo’ zone since each of their souls was split from Harry’s body. Harry’s soul chose to come back to his body. Could Voldemort’s one-eighth have also chosen to come back to Harry’s body or some other object? Was Voldemort afraid of the limbo zone and chose not to bring that part of his soul back?

In any case, it would have added more drama and intrigue to the story and to the aura of The Chosen One if someone had tried to cast the Avada Kedavra on Harry and it failed to kill him or had produced some unusual effect.

Mahabharat

I have been hooked to this latest series on Star Plus. It ‘looks’ great – the sets, costumes, camerawork. The graphics could have been better at some places though. Great performances by most of the actors. The superhero images for all the warriors are built very well. Catchy music and fitting theme songs for each character. The chorus really elevates the visuals. Most of the music sounds ‘modern’ as well. The show seems to be very popular on youtube. Doesn’t drag much like other mega serials except for some parts. On the whole, it maintains a good pace, though I wish some of my favourite parts like Yaksha’s conversation with Yudhishthir were a little longer. Great idea to bring on Krishna right from the beginning with his thought-provoking words. There have been some changes to the story to add to the dramatic effect, but it sort of stays true to its own version.

That was more about the ‘cosmetics’. How does it all come together and create an impact? Dharma seems to be the link throughout. We are reminded time and time again of the oaths that people take (Bhishma’s is of course most impressive), their Dharma which sometimes is apparently conflict with their oath, and the idea of Tapasya. Krishna guides us through the whole process of trying to understand what Dharma is.

I am impressed by the way the female characters (in fact almost all the characters) have been developed. I doubt if it was this way in the original version also. For instance, after Draupadi’s Swayamvara, once Kunti asks the Pandavas to share the ‘alms’ they have received, Vyasa comes and tries to clarify the situation and help them discover their Dharma. Given the unusual decision, there are also extra oaths that the Pandavas and Draupadi have to take during their marriage. The translation of the original text only seems to refers to the fact that Draupadi will regain her virginity after being a wife to only one of the Pandavas every year. In the very well written book, The Palace of Illusions, by Chitra Divakaruni Bannerjee, where we follow the story from Panchali’s point of view, this aspect is explored and Draupadi feels how it’s a convenient thing from a patriarchical point of view that she becomes a virgin after every year, but what about her feelings and memories? This issue has been addressed by the version shown on Star Plus (of course, the whole idea of Adharma with respect to Draupadi’s marriage to the five Pandavas comes about only because kings were allowed to have multiple wives but a woman could have only one husband). Both Draupadi and the Pandavas take the oath that they will do Tapasya at the end of every year to detach themselves from the bonds and memories that were formed and start anew. A very balanced view is thus shown and Draupadi also speaks her mind in every situation.

In fact, at every difficult situation, the discussions keeping Dharma as the focus is what makes this version very appealing. The back stories with how someone in their previous life did something and that’s what is affecting them in the current life are avoided for most parts. Somehow, when there is the awareness that given any situation, we can take a decision based on Dharma that is appropriate for that situation rather than trying to find a reason from previous lives and previous Karma that we seem to be unaware of, gives more strength to the arguments and decisions. Anyway, at every moment in life, there is always a non-zero probability that a disaster strikes us. There is no point thinking why the disaster has struck. The more important thing is how we react to that.

Having Dharma as the central focus, we get to see how different characters react to the notion of Dharma. Bhishma – how his one oath changes his whole life and the fate of Hastinapur. Yudhishthir – the son of Dharmaraja himself but he too gets caught in the technicalities of Dharma (he seems to have been painted in an even better light in this series). Duryodhan – who doesn’t care about Dharma but consistently behaves with his only goal of becoming the emperor in mind. Karna – constantly in conflict with his promise to his friend and his knowledge of Dharma. Shakuni – wicked and clever and knows how to manipulate the notion of Dharma to suit his plans. Krishna – clever and knows even better how to give strength to unusual (but appropriate for the situation) interpretations of Dharma. The presence of Shakuni and Krishna make for such a contrast.

On the whole, a very engaging series. Anyway, we can never tire of reading/listening to/watching Mahabharat. Epic indeed.