Joined: 04 January 2012
Before I started this one, I was repeating to myself, like a mantra, "I shall not get too exasperated!", so that the post should not sound like one long rant against the Mahakumbh script. I think the chanting has worked, but as for its efficacity, that is for you to judge after you have come to the end of this post!
I wrote a mini-take on the Monday episode that some of you might have seen, and that was the beginning of a bad week. This was
Mahakumbh 81: Of means and ends
The next mini-post, Mahakumbh 82:Escalating inconsistencies, about the Tuesday episode, was never posted due to a net failure of a day, which was perhaps all for the best, for it too was none too gentle in tone. In fact, I think I wrote these two daily analyses, contrary to my standard practice, mainly to let off steam!
Now for the whole week. The script made sure that my title is fully justified, and the Tata Sky synopsis for tonight, which say that Rao cures Maya by injecting her with a mixture of some herbs of his own and Rudra's blood, only reinforces the validity of the title, Inconsistencies abounding!
Let me thus start with a list of the offending parts, in which I am not including the numerous holes in the Rao as the Master Criminal twist, which I had covered at length in my last post. These are fresh ones!
-Augustus Rao: Augustus (Agastya Parashar Gautam) Rao, with those AK- 47 toting guards all lined up, and a dim tent with more zombie like guards in it, looked more ludicrous than scary. Julius Caesar's nephew, the first Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar, would be horrified at the sight of such a downmarket namesake!
What was it with that Ruritanian style uniform? He would have been definitely more sinister in his regulation grey jacket. Rao is also a remarkably wooden faced actor, which does not help matters. He cannot convey menace even when the recipients, the Veshes, are more than ready to genuflect before him in rank fear.
Pointless bravado: His boasting about how he will become the second Bhagwan, the one on earth - who would have found out the formula for creating amrit by analyzing a sample (this is itself a very tall claim, but let that pass!), would manufacture it wholesale in a factory, and then sell immortality at extortionate prices - would be comical if it were not so illogical.
Why would Rao's potential clients believe that this precious and unbelievably expensive liquid would actually make them immortal? Why would anyone pay so heavily for a concoction the efficacity of which would require decades to prove? It is a non-starter, but Rao does not seem to realise this.
In contrast, the others yearning for the amrit, so far as I could make out, seem to want it for themselves, for personal immortality, and thus endless power and domination over the world. Incidentally, I have never understood how the second follows from the first, but that is another inconsistency that has been there from the very beginning!
Sector 53 : Of more immediate concern, Rao also seemed, from one episode to the next, to have completely forgotten all about his earlier, urgent and scary order, conveyed thru Greyerson to the 'Veshes, that Sector 53 should be cleared completely, thru bribery or mass killings, for now he tells them to merely follow the orders of the nagas.
There is no explanation offered for this about turn, but maybe he has reconsidered and dropped that insane idea. The Veshes, delighted to be let off the hook, would not have asked for clarifications, especially as they can now collar the whole of the Rs. 50 crores! So what was the point of all that argument between Greyerson and the Veshes about that order, just the day before?
Sole flash of good sense: The only thing that Rao said this week that was sensible was that till the amrit surfaced, it was necessary for him and his staff to protect the nagas from the garuds and vice versa - undoubtedly so that he has two chances of getting at the amrit instead of just one - and this without either of them knowing about it.
Finally, where was that ladidah tent of
Rao's, pray? I could not catch what Greyerson said, but surely it cannot be in
the Mahakumbh grounds, where all this private armoury would not be allowed?
dethroned!: All this while, we
have had it dinned into our collective heads that the ONLY source of the amrit was the vilupt Saraswati, which would become prakat at the time of its sangam with the Ganga and the Yamuna, at the Triveni at Prayag on
Mahashivaratri day at the once in 144 years Mahakumbh. That the amrit kalash would be at the heart of a
whirlpool that would emerge in the Saraswati.
Now, Rao, out of the blue and quite
casually, informs his ADC Greyerson: Bharatiya
shastron ke anusaar, dharti ko ek jeevit vastu maana gaya hai. Isiliye yahan ki
sanskriti mein ise maa kaha jaata hai. Ab jis prakaar maa apne bachche ke liye
doodh paida karti hai, waise hi yeh dharti samay samay par amrit paida karti
hai. Us amrit ka durupayog na ho isliye us amrit ko nadi mein undelne ka kaam
kuch logon ko saunp diya jaata hai.
mein Mississippi aur Colorado, Africa mein Nile, aur India mein Ganga, in
nadiyon mein amrit undela jaata hai. Isiliye in nadiyon ka duniya bhar mein
bada mahatva hai. Par yeh bahut gut rakha gaya hai, taaki is prakriya mein koyi
baadha na pahunche.
Now what is the viewer to make of this sudden revelation? The Nile is
of course the River of Life for Egypt, but I never knew
that the Mississippi and the Colorado were sacred rivers as well! I have visited the valley of the Colorado twice, and the Grand
Canyon as well. Pity I did not know that the river water was laced with amrit, nahin to ek lota Colorado ka jal to
saath mein lati aur pooja ghar mein Gangajal ke saath rakh deti!
And what is it about those tasked with
the undelna of the amrit , that Mother Earth apparently
disgorges spontaneously and sporadically, into these designated rivers? When
and where? And who are those designated for this ultra secret task?
is all more that bizarre. If Rao knows
of the when and where, why does he not
go there and collect an amrit sample at the very source, from the earth? Why indulge
in all this complicarted and long rigmarole?
apart, the whole thing is nuts. It demolishes, at one stroke, the whole basis of our tale thus far: that the amrit can be seen, and if possible got, only from
the Saraswati at the pre-destined time and place, at the special Mahakumbh once
every 144 years. If one can get amrit from the Nile and the Mississippi and the
Colorado, then why wait for 144 years and then congregate only at the Mahakumbh
It sounded as if the writer had been high
on something quite potent!
- The great vish hunt: As I had expected, this was pure abracadabra, straight out something like Hatim Tai. There was the bubbling, boiling brew of vish, and the Guru Maharaj sticking out his forked tongue and waving it about repeatedly in front of a totally unmoved Rudra. Perhaps he did it to reassure himself that it was indeed there in his mouth, for there was no other valid reason that I could think of.
The only good point was Rudra seizing opportunity by the forelock, as Shakespeare would have put it, dunking the forked tongued one into the pool of vish and then forcing him to transfer it to Rudra's blood by (as far as I could make out in that gloom) biting him.
That, and the exceptionally ugly and creepy Guru Maharaj doing a Maaricha, faithful to the last to the naga cause, but finally kicking the bucket from a vish overdose. I hope he is the nagabali that awakens Shivanand's shaktiyaan, for it is high time that was done!
Then there was Rudra staggering back with the naga
vish in his veins. For a total
screen time, all the bits included,
of 5 minutes and 56 seconds. It made for excruciating and then, as the scene
dragged on and on, very boring viewing,
seeing that there was no tragic element involved and one knew he would pull
Instead, questions, all logical, surfaced.
Why does Rudra not take Leela with him to the vish kendra? She should know best how to tackle it. If he does want to go alone, why does he not
take one of the DM's jeeps with him, so
that he can make it back fast, and without having to provide such prolonged delectation
for the Naga Pramukh?
There was Dansh rejoicing, as usual
prematurely, that Rudra would be dead
and gone soon enough, while MB's face was a study in conflicting emotions:
unshakeable stoicism, but under that, a thin layer of worry and near fear. She
has the gift of making even a fleeting shot a must watch.
a naagmani!: Leela
tells Rudra that the vish from the vish
kendra alone can cure Maya. That, and everything else she does
subsequently, is in obedience to Dansh's explicit orders, with the unambiguous
aim of killing Rudra by exploiting his
emotional bond with Maya. But when upbraided by Thappadiya Mai for her
treachery towards the man who had saved her life, what does Leela confess?
she had no other choice but to betray Rudra and lead him to his death,
because Dansh ke paas wo mani hai jiske
kaaran hum sab ko uske ishaaron par chalna padega.. In short, the naagmani beloved of writers and directors of fantasies involving ichchadaari nagas and
nagins, often with the sultry
Sridevi heading the cast.
Hallelujah, folks, we now have a true blue (very likely literally so) naagmani
. Apni katha ko rochak banaane ke
liye bas yeh hi baaki thi!
if Dansh does have these irresistible powers thanks to his naagmani, then how
come Drish dethrones him so summarily
the other day and takes over all his naag
vansh ke adhikaar? What was the naagmani doing then?
you vish, now you don't!: Ok, the nagvish
in Rudra's blood - that has halted his breathing and turned him blue by the time Rao (having duly gone back to his grey
academic jacket and no cap look) gets
him back to his tent - is so strong, according to both Leela and Dansh, that even a naga can tolerate it only for a short while. If that is so, how is it that it can be neutralized by just three drops of Leela's standard issue naga blood, that too only dropped on
Rudra's skin? No answers to this one, but Rudra's whole face and body become vishmukt in a matter of seconds.
Ok, well and good, and presumably though Leela's
blood cannot cure Maya directly, it is industrial strength and can neutralize the vish
kendra vish, and Rudra's blood is now free of it. But now comes the rub.
Leela says that only the vish kendra vish can kaatofy the vish in Maya's body. But that vish is now no longer there in Rudra's body. Despite this, according to the credible Tata Sky synopsis for tonight, Rao cures Maya by injecting her with Rudra's blood plus some herbs of his own. How is this possible? Not that this is something to protest about, seeing the other whoppers dished out to us of late, but still, it merits noting.
- Drish and Dansh: Yoyoing : This is the last item on my list.
Right from the entry of the nagas we have been bemoaning the fact that Drish, though ostensibly the guru of the Naga Pramukh Dansh, seemed to have very little control over or even any inputs into Dansh's decisions, and that he approached Dansh and handled him overall in a very hesitant manner. What was worse, the relationship between them was, even formally, hardly like a guru-shishya one. Dansh showed Drish only the bare minimum of the respect due to a guru.
This near-subservience of the guru to his shishya came thru most clearly after the aborted exchange plan, when Drish accepted Dansh's almost casual explanation for his having killed Leela without demanding an accounting or accusing him of anything.
The most recent, and relevant example
of Drish accepting all of Dansh's
decisions re:Leela came when Dansh tells
his guru, in response to his question about whether he was going to
use Leela in this battle against the garuds,
that she would be his biggest
strategy (of course he means tactic, not strategy). For though they could
easily trace the dimaag of the garuds,
as for what was going on in their dils, only Leela could trace that.
this could hardly have been done without smuggling Leela into the garud camp
secretly. And Drish, be it noted, smiles with a hint of pride in his daughter.
There is no hint of any objection
from his side.
inexplicable U-turn: But what does
he do on Tueday night? He storms in
unexpectedly, and berates Dansh, most uncharacteristically, in the bluntest
possible terms ab sawaal main poochunga aur jawaab tum
doge! He then rips Dansh's whole plan of sending Leela to the garuds as a naga jasoos - something
that, as noted above, he had approved
just the week before - to shreds with utter contempt, and once more lauds the satveen garud Bhairavi for
her exceptional powers of mind and body.
Dansh is, understandably, shell-shocked,
for it was, to him and to me, as if a rabbit had suddenly bared its teeth and
bitten a lion.
He scrambles to retrieve lost ground by
arguing with his suddenly aggressive and dominating guru. But it is too late,
for Drish not only declares that he has lost faith in Dansh because of this
foolish decision of his that has endangered Leela' s life - another shocker -
but caps it all by taking back all the powers of the naga vansh from Dansh, who
sags visibly under the blow.
Now this was like a blow in the solar
plexus not just for Dansh - who deserved
to be taken down several pegs anyway - but for me as well. I was not aware that the post of the Naga
Pramukh was a probationary one, subject to the
approval or disapproval of the naga guru, who could dethrone him at will!
But what was bizarre was the 180 degrees about turn in the
characterization of Drish. As with the
recently anointed Boss of Bosses Augustus Rao,
this drastic, overnight recasting
of the naga guru was totally implausible.
gear again: But the matter does
not end there. Come Wednesday, Drish is back in the naga hqrs. (from his present
location in the Mahakumbh grounds, next
to the tunnel to Sector 53 being dug for
the nagas by those
whom Rao describes, with cruel accuracy, as the choohe, Devesh and Balivesh, soon to be gobbled up by the nagas in whose
integrity Devesh reposes total trust), saying that he wants to discuss
something important with Dansh. But why, seeing that he had, just 2 days earlier, cheenofied all the naga vansh ke adhikaar from the self-same Dansh because he had lost
faith in his judgement?
Drish then proceeds to reverse gear even
more thoroughly. Explaining why he does not trust MB, who he feels is a garud jaasoos a la Leela, he adds that
the garuds could be planning to divide the nagas, given that Maine tumhari kabiliyat par shaque kiya, aise pehle kabhi nahin hua.. And
with that, he promptly reverts to his doormat stance, while Dansh begins to
strut and preen as if his sudden dethronement of 2 days ago had
Now this kind of drastic yo-yoing of a main character is not what one expects from a show like Mahakumbh. It seems that now, anything goes as far as the writers
are concerned. They are like Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland, who
asserted: A word means what I say it
means, no more and no less. Replace word
by character, and here we are!
Given this recurrent pattern, all these painstaking analyses of ours of
what was said and done, when and by
whom, and the logical conclusions we try
to draw from those, are clearly
pointless and a sheer waste of time, for it seems that any character can
be stood on his/her head at any moment!
The characters: Let us now see where our principal dramatis personae stand at the end of this week.
not just dar ki bimaari: The prolonged scene of Shivanand transferring
his fears about the death, under horrible circumstances, of all the 7 garuds, to Katharine was well enacted on his side but totally
depressing. For it is not just that he is
the clutches of the dar ki bimaari that MB warns Rudra about, the fear psychosis
that has been instilled in him by the nagas (the bit about both Drish and Dansh yelling at
Shivanand after his brain has been mapped, trying to drive him mad with fear, was unpleasant and hardly worth a watch).
rather that he, the brains trust of the garuds, and thus of their mission to protect the amrit from misuse at the hands of the nagas and other evildoers, has suffered a total moral collapse. He is
no longer the dedicated garud willing to sacrifice anything for
Rakshakon ke parivaar nahin
hote used to be his moolmantra. But now he
no longer wants to die, or to let his fellow garuds die for this cause. Kya faayda amrit ki raksha ka jab hum hi
jeevit nahin bachenge? Kyon bali chadayenge hum apni? Hum jeeyenge, tumhein bhi
bachayenge. Hum nahin marenge!
And his garud chinna glows in that livid poisonous naga blue-green.I felt very sad to see my favourite character - who has survived 24 years of torture with his head "bloody but unbowed" - reduced to this, with the stuffing knocked out of him by Dansh's poison and his tactics. What a fall it was, my gentle readers (with apologies to Mark Antony)!
Enough is enough!: This apart, I do not know about you folks, but I have had enough of Shivanand's OTT screaming and wailing. As I wrote in my last weekly post, keeping in mind his history of standing up to the worst kind of torture in Poland, and his aggressiveness even in his post-naga vish hallucinations, it is hard to believe that so tough a man could be so thoroughly shattered, mentally and physically, just because of a series hard blows with MB's staff.
But he now seems like a wreck, either flailing about in terror, or ranting like a Biblical prophet about death to the nagas. I am sure he will get the critics' award next year for these uncontrolled performances, but I would be most grateful if they could cease!
Rudra: A crisis of conscience: Rudra began the week by looking blank and undecided at the same time, while Tiwari looked silently bloodthirsty - I am sure if the bali was to be of a fellow garud, he would be equally ready for it- and Katharine and Thappadiya Mai were not worth even a mention. What a sorry lot these garuds are!
Rudra is the Garud Pramukh, and given his cast iron commitment to insaaniyat, of course including the nagas as well, he could hardly execute Leela in cold blood ( an inadvertent pun, for snakes are cold blooded, come to think of it!), so why did he not say so at once as a Garud Pramukh ka aadesh? I wondered why it took him so long, till after they all drifted away from him to Tiwari, to lay down the law to them. On Monday, half the episode was spent, in fact wasted, with Rudra either avoiding Tiwari's accusing/demanding gaze, or looking into his eyes defensively, like a couple of roothe premi! It was all so bad-filmy and so stupid.
But still I was sure that in the end, he would come thru this test of his leadership qualities very well. What I wanted to see was whether he was able to bring the other garuds back to his side thru the sheer force of moral superiority, not just by exerting his final authority as the Garuda Pramukh.
He finally lived up to my expectations and more. Not only did he make clear to the errant quartet why the garuds had been entrusted with this sacred mission, but he barked Bas!! at Tiwari for having made that malicious remark (that Rudra was not ready to sacrifice Leela because she might save Maya's life). It was a dramatic demonstration of the Garud Pramukh both putting his foot down, and putting a wayward garud firmly in his place. That stentorian retort, which halted Tiwari in his tracks, silenced the rest as well, and Rudra could amplify on his original refusal, noting that he would not allow Leela to be sacrificed even if she could not save Maya.
Still ruled by his
But then he lapsed into folly, going alone and on foot to find the vish kendra and tackle the naga guardian of the kendra, the Guru Maharaj. Why
does he not take Leela with him, which would have been the only logical thing to
do? Not only does he go alone, but he does not even think of going by jeep up
to the point nearest the location, so as to be able to rush back with the vish, nor of providing himself with some safe
container for the vish. How did he
think he was going to transport it back to his tent?In his mouth?
Nor does he spare a single thought for what would happen to the mission of the garuds, to protect the amrit, if he were to be killed in this attempt because of the unnecessary risks he runs. Not for nothing does Dansh chortle in glee, his assessment of Rudra's weakness being due to his emotions having been proved right.
That Rudra is saved in the end is pure fluke. But for Rao turning up just as he collapses in the middle of the road, and then Rao coaxing Leela into using her blood, he would have surely died. So no kudos for Rudra for having survived this foolish and quixotic adventure.
MB and Dansh: Well, after that superlative fencing match between them in Episode 80, one could hardly have expected that it would be topped this week. In the event, it was not, and the MB-Dansh track went downhill, as the Naga Pramukh went back to his standard OTT sneering and strutting about, preening about his assumed victory over the garuds, and giving himself 3 gun salutes. It was a pity he did not think of a full 21 gun one. It might just have brought the roof down and buried him!
But I loved MB's total self control, not betraying even the slightest hint of disappointment when Dansh, reverting to his arrogant folly default setting, turns down her offer of a sauda.
Even more so, her Narada act, mentioning the nagabali angle just as Guru Drish was storming in, thus setting the cat among the pigeons, and then settling down calmly to watch the fur fly. The dancing mischief in her eyes as she noted that the decision should be not just for the Naga Pramukh to take, but for Leela's father as well, was a delight to behold.
In between, as Rudra appears to be at death's door, despite all her confidence in his destiny, MB looks shaken. Her eyes strive for control, but the fear that lurks within them will not be denied. Still she is unbowed, and when Dansh indulges in a stupid caper as a reporter seeking sound bytes abour her reaction to a garud defear without even a battle being fought, she regains her usual mastery, both over herself and the situation.
Jo apni chaal se tez bhaagne ki koshish karta hai, wo muh ke bal girta hai. Baki kaun jeetega, kaun haarega, yeh to samay batayega, tum nahin.. Dansh is still smirking, but now comes the body blow.
Tumhare guruji ne bataya hi hoga, ki amrit tak pahunchne se pehle, saat dwaar kholne honge.. Aur wo khulenge kaise, yeh main batati hoon. Teesri kitaab se. Aur agar teesri kitaab nahin mili, to garudon ko haraakar bhi naag jeet nahin paayenge. ...
Then she comes up close to him, bends almost double and leans on her staff - in an Avvayaar style pose, for my Tamil readers - exactly as she did in the library after clobbering Tiwari as the last. Her eyes are lit up with subdued triumph as she asks him, her voice dripping with sarcasm: Naqli jeet ka nasha utar gaya, ya ab bhi baaki hai? She smiles widely in pure, mischievous delight as Dansh's face darkens in anger, and he smashes the hour glass in impotent rage.
No wonder Dansh later tells Drish that they will have to trust MB out of sheer necessity, that of getting hold of the Third Book before the garuds regroup, and will have to take her help to find it. He adds, his suppressed rage boiling up into a vehement assertion: Aur mein sirf - his forefinger raised for emphasis - Bhairavi ki madad le raha hoon. Baaki apne khoon mein itna zeher bhar liya hai ki kisi par vishwas karna bhi mere bas mein nahin raha..
A fallen angel?:In that instant, I felt very sorry for Dansh. What a fate, to be locked into this mental prison for life, unable to feel love, devoid of the ability to care for another, to trust another, with a psyche as drenched in poison, and by his own doing, as his blood!
I wondered: did Dansh ever have a mother who loved him and coddled him and lavished her affection on him without any thought of return? Or was he a swayambhu, born and raised in darkness and anger, comsumed by hate and driven only by the desire to win and to crush all the opposition, by any which means?
I have often wondered similarly about Satan, who was once an angel, Lucifer, son of the morning. How far did Lucifer fall, and how far has Dansh fallen!
NB: I noted, in the Wednesday credits, that Utkarsh's name was missing, and it was the same on Thursday. I wondered about that, but Arijit has now confirmed that Utkarsh has indeed left Mahakumbh. It will be a major loss for the show, and as for me, I came to this show only because of Utkarsh. I do not plan to leave it before it comes to an end, but I do hope his replacement(s) will be able to bridge the gap at least half satisfactorily.
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