If any movie franchise is the need of the hour then we definitely need this one! If you were spellbound by Sir Peter Jackson’s LOTR and Hobbit trilogies, if you love Troy and Gladiator or shout SPARTAAAA while watching 300 then we need The Mahabharata Cinematic Universe or MCU.
What is the Mahabharata? It is an Indian Epic story set in ancient India which is a classic Good Vs Evil, Light Vs Dark story told and retold over generations. It has seen many adaptations from the 1980’s BR Chopra serials to the recent remakes in 2013 but what if we had a whole MCU? That would be an epic series!!
Imagine a horde of warriors facing off against each other in glorious battle using maces, bows/arrows, swords, spears? Imagine the warrior elite who control powerful weapons of mass destruction called “Astras” which they call using a special prayer on the battlefield and can summon during dire situations? Imagine a whole platoon of soldiers facing off against their enemies in formation much different from what we have seen in mainstream media? The ancient Indian armies have a different squad formation which consists of infantry corps, cavalry, chariot corps and elephant corps. Imagine a platoon of elephants charging against an enemy platoon with mounted warriors atop them wielding bows, spears, maces and swords? That would be glorious! I still remember the Oliphaunt attack sequences in LOTR ROTK but this wuld be another whole level of awesomeness!
So this epic cinematic universe which has its own share of gods, demigods and very powerful mortals should have the following parts:
1. Origins of The Mahabharata – The two kings and their prodigal sons:
Mahabharatha is a story of sibling rivalry and a struggle for the throne between the sons of two kings, the younger king Pandu who was the father of the five protagonists (called Pandavas) and the elder Dhritrastra who is blind (but is even more powerful than his younger sibling) and has a hundred (yes you read that clearly a hundred) sons (called Kauravas)! Both brothers have their own set of adventures and a story which explores their relationship and establishes their blossoming rivalry would set a framework for the epic to be staged.
2. Mahapurush (Great Man)and Maharathi (Mighty Warrior)– The sages, warriors and mentors of the Princes:
This epic also had many other influential men and women who would play a very important part In the epic struggle to come. They also influenced the Pandava/kaurava warriors in training them and creating what they became. They consist of Bheeshma the elder who took a severe vow of celibacy and was granted the boon to choose his own time of death by the gods. Guru Dronacharya who taught the Pandavas/kauravas the ways of war and sculpted heroes and villains.
3. Tales of The Gurukul – Pandavas vs Kauravas:
A gurukul is a residential school where the students are taught everything including the martial arts and the elite are trained in how to wield the powerful astras. The Pandavas and Kauravas had many conflicts here. The Pandavas win the contests by skill when the kauravas try all tricks and underhanded techniques to defeat their counterparts. Stories like the one where he trains Arjuna the greatest warrior among the Pandavas to train archery in the dark would be great! They should also include stories about Ekalvya and how Drona rebuked Karna’s training.
4. Prelude to the war – From Princes to paupers:
This should include the classical power struggle between both parties including their exile and the time they spent hiding, the Pandavas wedding Draupadi and the multiple failed attempts of the Kauravas to eliminate the Pandavas during their exile. This can also include the exploits of each Pandava brother during their exile as subplots to link with the main storyline. Post exile the brothers return to rule over their kingdoms with peace and prosperity but the Kauravas are jealous. They plot to overtake their brother’s place and coerce the eldest Pandava Yudhistir to play a game of dice where he bets everything and gets his wife Draupadi humiliated thus further embittering the cousins.
5. The clouds of War – Krishna and The Bhagwad Gita:
Before the onset of fullblown war the Pandavas and Kauravas gather their respective allies. Both are eager to enlist Krishna, a god into their side but the pandavas win over his favour but with a a caveat that he will not fight for them but act as an advisor and aide. He thus guides the Pandavas especially Price Arjun when he is unsure of facing his own cousins and mentors on the battlefield by reciting the Bhagwad Gita (The song of God) which enlightens him and makes them understand their true purpose.
6. Kurukshetra – The epic war:
Now the epic 18 day war starts with the Pandavas having a distinct disadvantage of numbers over their cousins. The Pandava army has 7 Akshauhinis (a battle group consisting of 21870 chariots, 21870 elephants, 65610 cavalry and 109,350 infantry with a ratio of 1chariot:1 elephant:3 cavalry:5 infantry) when their cousins have 11 Akshauhinis. The battle starts in earnest now and both sides suffer losses. The battle can be shown till day 10 when the Kaurava forces lose their commander Bhishma.
7. Kurukshetra - Chakravyuha formed and broken:
After Bhishma, the great dronacharya commands the Kaurava army. Battle ensues and on the 13th day when the Pandavas are unable to break the “Ckaravyuham” (Rotating Wheel Formation) Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu enters the formation on a suicide mission, he knows how to enter but cannot exit as he only has half the knowledge about breaking the Chakravyuham and valiantly fights to the last breath against some of the greatest warriors on the battlefield including his uncle Karna but is slain by them who break many rules of engagement. This angers his father Arjuna who vows to kill Jayadratha, the Kaurava ally who prevented the pandavas from assisting Abhimanyu to break the Ckakravyuha the next day or kill himself by immolation on a pyre. In his anger he destroys a whole akshauhini of the kauravas but will he succeed or kill himself by the end of the day as he vowed? Later the action continues in the night as Ghatokacha the half Rakshasa son of Bhima decimates the Kauravas in the cover of darkness until stopped by karna.
8. Kurukshetra – Drona Deceived and Karna Killed:
Drona who is the commander of the Kaurava forces is deceived and killed by the pandavas on the battlefield. Karna takes charge and fights the pandavas with a vengeance. Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas approaches Karna and reveals that Karna is not an orphan but her eldest son! She makes Karna to promise that he will not harm his brother but he says that he will not kill the pandavas except for his foe Arjuna. The 17th day was when Karna was killed by Arjuna.
9: Kurukshetra – The End of the mighty battle:
Post Karna’s defeat the pandavas easily win the war and almost all kauravas are eliminated. A remaining few then attack the Pandava camp on the night of the 18th and last day of the war nearly decimating the camp. Then the story ends with showing the aftermath of the war and the fates of the survivors.
So how many of us are excited to see this epic adapted to the silver screens?
Please share your ideas and comments below!!