I’m still recovering from last night’s ordeal. What ordeal? Well, some ostensibly harmless channel-surfing has scarred me for life. I made the mistake of watching the new Mahabharat on TV. (I know, I know, what was I thinking?!)

There’s just one word to describe that experience. Awful. Actually, let’s add a few more words – abysmal, appalling, abominable.

If you thought the older version was bad, you really ought to see what Ekta’s done. The casting’s terrible, the sets unimpressive, the much-publicised costumes a letdown, the dialogues poor, the special effects tacky, the background sound (can’t dignify it by using the word music) grating, the attempts at humour tragically bad, the direction and editing equally poor and the actors – well, the actors just ham and ham and then ham some more. Yes, this series is a hamsome piece of work.

Ok. Let’s see. Surely I can find one – just one – good thing to say about her magnum opus. And, after much reflection, I can. The saving grace is that it’s only 30 minutes long.

But is that really such a revelation? Surely, anyone with half a brain (I realise I’ve left myself wide open here!) would’ve expected Ekta to stick to what she knows best.

Perhaps what I was expecting was something along the lines of Mrityunjay, an elegant, minimalist version of Karna’s story as told by Chandraprakash Dwivedi. It was on DD many years ago, and as was DD’s wont in those days, anything good was yanked off the air in a few weeks. (Krishi Darshan and Pragati Ki Ore, on the other hand, went on for ever!) So it was with Mrityunjay. Another series that depicted Ancient India beautifully – and by that I mean in visual terms – was Bharat Ek Khoj.

But of course, that was before good ol’ Rupert and his henchmen unleashed Ekta on the unsuspecting Indian audience, and changed India forever.

I haven’t had the courage to check out Ramayan yet, but going by the copious amounts of lipstick the male actors use while smiling beatifically down at us from billboards, I suppose it’s just as well I gave it a miss.

I wonder if Krishi Darshan’s still on.

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