The grand epic Mahabharata, is the longest epic poem in the world and many a times described as the "longest poem ever written". Its longest version consists of over 100,000 shloka or over 200,000 individual verse lines (each shloka is a couplet), and long prose passages. Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahabharata is attributed to the wiseman Vyasa. Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes, the Mahabharata contains much philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or purusharthas and is often described as the fifth Veda. Filmmakers have always been fascinated by mythology, especially Mahabharat and are always eager to translate the epic on to the big screen. The epic has been adapted for the Indian Television atleast three times hitherto. The neoteric take on Mahabharata, produced by Kushal Kantilal Gada and Dhaval Jayantilal Gada and directed by Amaan Khan, is for the silver screen, which has got its first ever animation makeover, 48 years after Babubhai Mistry's Mahabharat (1965) with Abhi Bhattacharya (Lord Krishna), Pradeep Kumar (Arjun), Padmini (Draupadi), Dara Singh (Bhim) and Jeevan (Mama Shakuni) was released, and according to the film’s publicists, it is touted as the most expensive animated film in Bollywood.
With the conation to ascertain that the film stands peerless, the director has made the story-telling straightforward, which is evident from the very commencement of the film, which states that it’s an edited version of the epic and its intention is to promote Indian culture among the youth. The story of this Indian mythological drama film is centered upon basic human traits like truth, justice, duty, sacrifice, greed, fidelity, selflessness and the fight between good and bad ideologies, consummately pertinent nowadays. The throne of Hastinapur is argued over by the clans of Kaurava and Pandava in a resentful manner. Mama Shakuni of the Kaurava clan plots to abolish the Pandavas. Arjun wins the hand of charming Draupadi in an archery contest but after their mother makes a mistaken comment about Arjun sharing his prize, all the brothers end up marrying her. Mama Shakuni invites the Kauravas to a dice game in order to get rid of them. This avers baleful for the Pandavas – first they lose all their wealth and lands, and then agree to accept exile for 13 years. Finally, they lose Draupadi who is humiliated and stripped of her robe by one of the Kaurava princes, before Lord Krishna hears her appeals and appears, creating a magically endless robe that cannot be unravelled. As their years of exile end, the Pandavs return to reclaim their throne. When the Kaurav disavow to forgo what is theirs, they prepare for war. Both sides beseech Krishna and though he vows to remain a non-combatant, he offers his help in ways that allow Arjun to comprehend the significance of honour and ends up swaying the battle in favour of the Pandavas.
Attempting to make a 125-minute film out of such a vast text must be considered a daunting undertaking. The movie has an impregnable colour and an epic circumvolution that is bewitching. The background score (Deepak Walke) is lifting. Rajendra Shivv's music and Ibrahim Ashq's lyrics are in sync with the mood of the film. What makes this film goluptious is the fact that popular Bollywood stars have given their voice to the epic’s characters, that too without charging any money. Megastar Amitabh Bachchan lent his baritone voice and sombre expressions to Bheeshma Pitamah, which co-incidentally is the first time he dubbed for an animated character in his 44-year film career since 1969. Hearing Sunny Deol as Bheem, Vidya Balan as Draupadi, Manoj Bajpayee as Yudhistir, Ajay Devgn as Arjun, Anil Kapoor as Karna, Jackie Shroff as Duryodhan, Anupam Kher as Shakuni – the evil Prince of Gandhar, Deepti Naval as Kunti and Madhuri Dixit as Durga or Adi Shakti is an absolute delight.
On the flip side, not just the voice but the film makers have copied the look of the stars to sketch the animated characters for the film, which doesn't go down well with the mood of the film. The Pandavas are made to look much aged and narrowly unhandsome, sporting moustaches. Additionally, Draupadi is shown plump and dowdy, very much like Vidya Balan. Conversely, Draupadi was an epitome of matchless beauty with slender waistline, dark complexion and comely figuration. The animation effort itself is just about the middling ranks as compared to the Hollywood films. The makers are incapacious to go beyond the clichéd imagery as well.
On the whole, it’s particularly a kid-friendly version. But those who know the epic aptly, it's dissatisfying, disappointing, boring, lacking in finesse and imagination. A ham-fisted attempt! An extra half star for the USP of the film i.e. the voiceover of the A-listed stars.view less