Have this wonderful opportunity to be watching a spate of TV Serials on Indian Channels, that purport to Mythology or History, as one would so speak. Of course we have many, that go from factual history that is known, lived and recorded to that which span millennium prior to any kind of known data and is based on either mythological stories or extracts sourced through hearsay or derived through archaeology dugouts.
India has been one country that has been blessed with many an option. The Cholas, the Pallavas, the Mauryas, the Rajputs, the Mughals, the Marathas and of course, not to forget the two core books that have been at the forefront of every dynasty: the Ramayan and the Mahabharat.
Now, it is nice to see these on TV. After all, we did all read about them in school. We all did read our ACK’s or rather the Amar Chitra Katha’s and we steadfastly gulped down every slice of history that we read. The valiant Pandavas, the scheming Shakuni, the villainous but yet moralistic Ravana, the bloodthirsty Mughals, the scheming Greeks, the invading Britishers, the list goes on endless.
And to think, all of this now comes on Television! Can happiness be more personified or described in any other form. Yes, I too am an absolute fan of such historical stories and lop up the dollies as they are put out, yes, I too have grown up on many of them, read well either through my ACK’s or even school History books, or in many cases, reading historical transcripts of the greats that India has had the fortune to witness.
My grouse, well, as one goes through the televised versions of historical interpretations or historical transcripts put down to a celluloid form, is the amount of fiction that is built in the celluloid version vs what one reads or has read through. Now one cannot state that what we read also, is fact and was not fiction, but I would presume that there is some element of fact there, or probably, now that is in a televised environment, it becomes more fictional than factual.
As one goes through the serials, be it the Mahabharata that was run by Star Plus or the Ashoka that is currently run by Colors or what ever new comes up, one cannot but wonder, how much leeway is permitted to the makers of such serials to play around and put up scenarios that are well known could not have existed, or simply done to prolong the episodes to a never ending stage.
One hears songs in the background, historical moments being changed to an extent, that challenges the very thought process into asking.. did it really happen this way, or hang on, I did not read it this way. One can understand the need for TRP ratings and the need to garner viewership, however @ what cost?
One sees Ashoka doing somersaults, getting beaten endlessly and yet not uttering a word, when history tells us he was extremely cruel, until he transformed, we have a Jodha Akbar showing Akbar as a peace loving person, but then Maharana Pratap shows us how cruel Akbar really was. Yes, it enhances viewing but then, this is history that we are playing with and the unfortunate reality is that these versions remain in people’s minds more than what actuality is.
I do wonder watching these shows, are these validated by competent authorities or are these whetted for their scripts? One hears that the channels select the best writers / historians, but not sure how a historian would take his script being made into an Ekta Kapoor soap opera which not to mention undermines the show, but also screws around with History in a manner that makes it cheap and degrading (an example being Ekta Kapoor’s version of Mahabharat) the sad part being this becomes education for the millions.
Until such time we are competent enough and to be in a position to actually put up quality representations of Historical events, high time, such events are nipped in the bud, or a big rider put up prior to such serials that these are 80% fiction, 20% facts…..