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Mahabharat Animation (Hindi) 187

India's 'Most expensive' animated movie, really? Why are the filmmakers Pen making fools out of the public? Is India's technical prowess down to this? Not at all. The animated 2013 Mahabharat by Amaan Khan is a downer by epic proportions.

The film begins by claiming that it has been designed to acquaint the younger generation about the stories from the great Indian epic Mahabharata and about the values contained therein. It begins with two little boys, brothers, fighting over a coin. Then, a messenger bird appears and narrates the tale of what a quarrel between brothers over greed, ego and power struggle could lead to.

Since the massive story of a hundred thousand stanzas needs to be consolidated into two hours of film, the script only touches upon the important highlights. The birth of Karna and the other Pandavas and that of the Kauravas is told as a passing reference. And there is no reference to Bhishma or Pandu & Dhritarashtra lineages.

The main story begins at the point where Pandavas and Kauravas showcase their skills at an arena in the capital Hastinapur. Patriarch Bhishma (Amitabh Bachchan) oversees the duels: Bheem (Sunny Deol) vs Duryodhan (Jackie Shroff) and Arjuna (Ajay Devgan) vs Karna (Anil Kapoor). In the end, Yudhishtir (Manoj Bajpayee) is anointed as the crown prince, thus angering Duryodhan and Shakuni Mama (Anupam Kher).

The tale then continues to portray the Pandavas' wedding with Draupadi (Vidya Balan) and explains the logic behind five husbands and then introduces the character of Lord Krishna (Shatrughan Sinha). Following Draupadi's insult of Duryodhan and the counter-insult after the game of dice, the Pandavas go to the jungles. On their return, evil Duryodhan doesn't return their kingdom and war between cousins is imminent.

'Mahabharat' 3D or 2D depending on the format that watches it in, focuses on the events of the famed battle, the message of Krishna to Arjuna and the aftermath of the war. While the animation is extremely loathsome, one can't help but appreciate the attempt to capture the essence of the values contained in the epic in about 2 hours.

The acting talent is only reflected through the voices of its actors. While Big B's baritone voice is the most resoundingly awesome one, the faces of the characters bear mild resemblance to the actors, leave aside the muscular bodies. In a way, it was fun to see big names lend their voices to evergreen characters in the Indian psyche. If only the visual feel lived up to the mark of the actors voices! If at all!

Nonetheless, since it is an animation film, much of its merits would be analyzed against what is seen on screen. While they have attempted the use of rich colors, the use of movements and shadows is too tacky. If you remember playing decade old versions of action games like Counterstrike, you would know what I'm talking about. The visuals have an overall substandard feel and seems like a cheap TV show.

With animation, comparisons are inevitable too. While it would be unfair to compare it with Hollywood, does it stand up to homegrown cartoons? It doesn't. In fact, they could have done better by sticking to simpler styles, much like the old-world comics and give life to a simplistic style of animation. They couldn't have emulated the 2011 Tintin film, but could've at least emulated Chota Bheem.

Background score and songs are not only bad; but they are also poorly timed. It is understandable that the screenwriters have used songs to convey the passage of time based events; however, this was not effective. The editing too is so hopelessly lost that one background tune suddenly cuts into another.

Verdict: Earlier this month, a news report said that the film has been insured for INR 50 crore. Going by the lack of interest by audiences and empty movie halls, surely, the insurance companies have something to worry about. Doesn't that say enough already? If you are still keen on it, save your money, wait till it comes on TV.

Rating 4/10: Crappy animation ruins the potential
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