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The Mahabharata Review

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Two ruling divinely-empowered families, which are formed by the most bizarre mysitcal means possible, have a bit of a falling out and a rather nasty war ensues in which most characters are killed-off.

★★★★★

For those of you who may have forgotten your Sanskrit, "mahabharata" means "great story of mankind". The book which recounts this great story forms the basis of Indian religion and mythology and is the longest book in the world, clocking in at around 15 times the length of the Bible. And Peter Brook has obviously had a thing about this monumental tale for quite some time, having already directed a 12-hour long stage play and a six- hour TV version, so presumably one should applaud his self-restraint here in making a movie that is a "mere" three hours of miracles and war-mongering.

The complicated and bizarre plot of The Mahabharata revolves around two ruling families of somewhat strange origins: one set of brothers are born to Khunti (Goldschmidt) and various divine fathers (the sun, the wind, wisdom, etc), whilst the others start life as a huge cannonball of flesh (cue uncomfortable birth scenes) which is then cut into 100 pieces that happily grow up to be fairly well-adjusted chaps. As so often happens with these all-powerful godly types, however, the two families have a bit of a falling out and a nasty war results which nearly ends the world while wiping out 90 percent of the cast.

Falling somewhere between Monkey and One Hundred Years Of Solitude, The Mahabharata sweeps along grandly in colourful epic style, only grating in its relentless seriousness (the only time anyone laughs is when they've ground their enemy into ignominous defeat) and the po-faced smugness of the "goodies". Thees minor problems aside, this is an absorbing and magical yarn, with an admirable multicultural cast who cope very well with such tiresome fates as standing upright and rigid on one toe for 12 years.

Rlentless seriousness aside, this is an absorbing and magical yarn, with an admirable multicultural cast who cope very well with such tiresome fates as standing upright and rigid on one toe for 12 years.