Hindi Film Review
Not worthy of The Epic!'
Cast(Voices) : Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgan, Sunny Deol, Vidya Balan, Deepti Naval, Manoj Bajpayee, Jackie Shroff, Shatrughan Sinha, Anupam Kher
Director: Amaan Khan
Rating: * * ½
The story of this Indian mythological- animated-drama revolves around truth, justice, duty, sacrifice and the eternal fight between good and bad ideologies. The ancient story itself has numerous facets and emotions that any one film will find difficult to represent. Even the two Mahabharat series on television couldn’t do justice to the revered text so expecting anything ‘unbelievable’ is just not on. Instead if you adopt a more pragmatic approach you will not have as much cause for disappointment.
The Mahabharata, an epic by the sage Vyasa, supposedly has all that is needed to feed human consciousness. Mahabharata is religiously symbolic, teeming with myths and is regarded as one of the few ancient texts that have given birth to numerous philosophies and stories. But this version in animated film that we are subjected to is both low on imagination and wafer thin on depth. Though the plotting stays close to the ancient text(as much as possible) there are flights of fancy -especially the sequence of the Maya Mahal- which appears off the beaten-track. And there’s also the climactic battle of Kurukshetra between the Pandavas and Kauravas, structured and executed in piecemeal fashion with shabby pyrotechnics standing in for celestially driven warfare.
The basic story is still as sublime and meaningful but the treatment is not. The 2 D animation is limiting . The use of A list Bollywood actors to give face and voice to the legendary mythic characters is a good enough hook but the the advantage is lost in the poor quality of character modeling with some of the well known faces looking far too alien and unrecognizable in toon form to connect with the audience. The voice talent though is of high quality.
With such A list names like Amitabh Bachchan, Shatrughan Sinha, Ajay Devgan, Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol, Manoj Bajpayee, Jackie Shroff, Vidya Balan and Anupam Kher lending their names and faces to the legendary characters , the filmmakers could definitely have gone all out to make this a blockbuster to be remembered. But unfortunately the lack of ambition in this venture is it’s biggest drawback. The 2 D animation character modeling and rendering is not distinct enough to make some of the faces recognizable and oftentimes even the ones that look familiar look weird. Draupadi is represented by Vidya Balan and the modeling for that look is conspicuously bad. She in fact looks so sickly and unattractive that it leads us to wonder why any Prince would even encourage the thought of winning her hand in marriage through a much publicized competitive event. The same goes with Karna(represented by Anil Kapoor) and Arjun( Ajay Devgan) . In fact it gets very confusing through the film trying to differentiate Karna from Arjun. Their facial contours are near identical and other than the difference in the respective voices there was little to distinguish between the two. Lord Krishna(voiced by Shatrughan Sinha) has facial contours similar to that of Sachin Pilgoankar and one wonders whether that was deliberate or a mere oversight. Deepti Naval voices Kunti but again the facial contours in no way match Deepti’s currently wrinkled, saggy and familiar visage. Sunny Deol as Bheem, Anupam Kher as Shakuni and Amitabh Bachchan as Bheeshma Pitama are in comparison to the others, easily recognizable though. Even so, their body types are not exactly a matched fit. Manoj Bajpayee as Duryodhan and Jackie Shroff as Yudhishtir are totally unrecognizable. Madhuri Dixit gives voice to Adi Shakti/Maa Durga and luckily for us we don’t have to suffer through another failed transition there.
There must have been some kind of skewed logic in this kind of selective casting but it’s not one that is going to go down well with the audience. The lack of depth in the story, the rudimentary almost mechanical treatment and the clunky ungainly animation drive a deep wedge in the enjoyment. The standard in terms of craft, is way below that which was set by ‘Arjun’ in the recent past. Watch or not? The choice is yours..really!