I grew up watching the Mahabharata series on TV brought to us by B.R Chopra and Ravi Chopra, not the modern renditions on the various TV channels today. It caught my imagination and was glued to every one of the 45 minute episodes. The popularity was so high that you could also rent out VHS tapes of 3 episodes each in Dubai.
After watching Bahubali, I began wondering how a modern version of the magnum opus could be brought to the big screen.
If budgets were not a constraint, this could be the perfect storyline for a 3 part movie with an all-star cast. I have even penned down a rough draft of the story and screenplay. My version of the Mahabharata would be one which is set in today’s world. The premise and specifics would be too much to share in this post and would also give away my plot.
One thing I will need to reveal is that Bhishma and Dhritrashtra would be the primary characters in my version.
As the casting manager for Mahabharata 2.0, this would be my main cast list…
Who else but the innocent looking Madhavan to play the role of the meek and honest Yudhishthira. A character known to keep his emotions under wraps while accepting all atrocities would be perfect for him. Also he has shown his ability to play a role that is slightly older quite well recently. Big Brother Madhavan is what the audience would love to see on screen.
This selection has to be based purely on the physical requirements for the role. I understand that there are many actors who would be willing to seriously bulk up for the role, but I believe John Abraham can pull off anger and mirth with ease. In all versions of the Mahabharata, Bhīma is depicted as a lovable giant and not a grotesque monster.
This might seem controversial to most readers but hear me out. Arjun was originally a counterfoil to Bhīma. In other words, he was never as big and strong but was a great warrior based on his use of the bow and arrow and overall demeanor. Also he was good looking enough to have multiple wives. The athletic looking Shahid Kapoor will be perfect for the role of Arjun
Nakul was the playful one and also considered to be the best looking of the lot. When the word playful comes up, I cannot think of any other actor than Varun Dhawan today. Also, the considerable age difference between Arjun and Nakul has to be addressed as well during casting for this slightly smaller role.
Yes yes yes… He would have made a great Draupadi. But Sahadev was known for his intelligence and dexterity with the swords. Give Tiger Shroff a few scenes to show off his martial arts and moments to look into the horizon and think, you have the perfect candidate for this lesser known character from the Mahabharata.
Draupadi was a dusky beauty. Being the only one to openly speak her mind in the whole book shows us the strength of Draupadi’s character. Casting a fair actress would be completely senseless along with the fact that Chitrangadha is a really talented actress. Add the fact that I have had a crush on her for the longest time.
Puneet Issar OWNED this role!! I mean there was a level of intensity in way he portrayed one of the most hated characters of the epic that you just could not help but feel that the man was a re incarnation. The only way to erase that would be to cast someone like Rana Daggubati who not only can bring that menace to the screen but also physically match our Bhīma (John Abraham).
The most misunderstood character of the Mahabharata- Karna. We need someone who can really bring about the angst faced by Karna on screen. Torn between his friendship and karma, having to choose between his vows or his family’s life, on top of that match Arjun on the battlefield; no one is better suited to play this than Akshay Kumar. Also do not forget that Karna was elder than Yudhishthira.
The mother who kept seeing her sons’ through dizzying heights and then devastating lows in one cruel cycle. A subtle Kiron Kher would be my first pick to play this role.
Now coming to one of the main characters of my version. The character of Dhritrashtra was one that most intrigued me. He was the most human among all the larger than life characters around him. He was swayed by the love for his son, envy, jealousy, respect for his elders, and the need to do the right thing. For an actor to display all these emotions without the help of his eyes… Well, we need to have our best. Hence, Naseeruddin Shah.
Do I have to write about this choice??? I do not think anyone can play this role with more aplomb than Mr. Bachchan. Period.
Ah yes… The mischievous one. The one around whom everything revolves. The one who immediately demands attention when he walks into a room. The one who is a hit with the ladies. The one who vibrates positivity and enthusiasm. The one whom you can’t ignore. Wait… Am I talking about Krishna or Ranveer Singh???
If you grew up in a Hindu household, Shakuni was the epitome of backbiting, fight mongering and anything pure evil. Nawazuddin Siddiqui will slip into this role with ease and you won’t be able to take your eyes off him when he is on screen.
Now this is an experiment of sorts. I have a very strong feeling that Sidharth Malhotra would be able to play a character with strong negative traits. Dushasan was Duryodhan’s younger brother and was some sort of a hitman to do all his dirty work. Dushasan would do so without questioning his brother unlike the Pandavas to an extent. Whether he actually doing it or was he doing it just for the sake of his brother’s wishes is something I would like to explore.
Helpless. Bound to her husband. Self-sacrificial. Tries to treat all the children alike. Well this mom just has to be Farida Jalal. There is a certain level of motherly love that just oozes from her face. Mind you, there is a blindfold as well. So the eyes are out of the equation.
Now for the master. The man who teaches the skills of the trade to the children. Always known to be a shrewd man and master tactician, Kay Kay Menon can bring all those elements to this role. Although he will be playing a character much older than himelf. I believe he is one actor who can hold his own in scenes with Amitabh Bachchan and Naseeruddin Shah.
Phew… A long list.
What do you think???