Joined: 01 August 2005
In Mahakaali Anth Hi Aarambh Hai, director Siddharth Tewary's follow up to his ongoing Karmafaldaata Shani', the man evocatively interweaves the richness of the mythological saga of the Hindu Goddess Kali with the women empowerment stance that is very much the need of the hour.
There are several traditions of how Kali came into existence, this serial is based on the transformation of Parvati or Gauri (the fair-skinned) into the dark skinned Kali! When the Gods were being threatened by the overpowering demons Shumbh and Nishumbh because of a boon granted by Lord Shiva which made them invincible; Gauri donned the avatar of Goddess Kali when Shiva reminded her, she is his counterpart, she is the KAAL', the all consuming march of time and nothing can escape her.
The dialogues are really worked upon and some of them actually induce gooseflesh. In the beginning of the series when Parvati (Pooja Sharmaa) is baffled by her blood-soaked premonition and is frantically looking for Shiva (Saurabh Raj Jain) only to find him seeped in a frenzied "Anand Taandav, she gets mentally disoriented especially after spotting a teardrop sliding on his cheek. On asking him the reason behind the melange of his happiness and sorrow at the same time, he says "Happiness and tears have the same source, when happiness surpasses all boundaries, tears are imminent.
Some subtle nuances have been paid much attention to, a quality which the audiences don't really get to see much on TV, for instance when all the Gods lead by Indra gather on Kailash to relate their tales of distress, Mahadev (Saurabh Raj Jain) continues to notice the palpable fear on Parvati's countenance as though he is aware of it all and yet he wants her to realise it or when Chand Mund make their way to Kailash looking for Devraaj Indra, they are confronted by the visibly meek Parvati, who tells them to leave in a docile manner stating Kailash is not a place for bloodshed. While she says what she says in a tamed sort of way, she exudes a bewitching aura and Chand Mund are spellbound by it. They look at each other as though they had never seen anything more splendid than her in their entire lives and after some time of harmless leaching, they leave without a word - only to return to the devils' den and inform Shumbh and Nishumbh about this gorgeous beauty they had an encounter with on Kailash. The story is as age old as the mountains amidst which it is set but the screenplay is pretty tight and the puzzle pieces have been placed together in a way that it comes out as new.
As mentioned earlier, the drama series kicked off with the famous Shubh Nishumbh fable who summoned another mighty monster Rakt-Beej (who can duplicate himself as soon as his blood touches the earth) to fight Goddess Kali. Shiva's insistence to Gauri about fighting her battle alone, Gauri's realisation of her inner power manifested through some very deep rooted Hindu religious connotations. For instance, the Bel (Bilva) leaves that he handed Parvati are meant to venerate him. The visual metaphor of the deer musk and the deer at a distance which dawns a realisation of Parvati's inner powers in her was innovative yet pretty subtle.
In the second episode especially, almost every frame of the now nascent series reeked of women empowerment, so much so that at one point in time it felt overdone. The underlying bond between Gauri and Shiva has a certain other worldly Peter Ibbetson' quality; though they are separated, they know they are thinking of each other yet when she is Kali, she has to help herself and the others gods and goddesses as well. The cusp of mature understanding between Shiva and Parvati has an urgency that takes hold, adding significantly to the desire for the impending.
Tewary brings genuinity to his storytelling and that is what makes it plausible despite being larger than life. The gripping screenplay almost chains the audience to their seat in anticipation of the next scene. Speaking of action, this is not your average mythological. A televised series on Goddess Kali was never before penned for the TV screen and Tewary's version is the flagbearer of sorts. The action sequences are well choreographed and look fierce. The temerity to do something that has never been done before in itself is a laudable feat.
Talking about performances, Pooja Sharmaa nails her part in her bits of Kali and Parvati alike. The difference in the characters is brought out in a lovely manner. While portraying Parvati, Pooja comes out as meek, docile and full of misgivings just like a human being (which she is), and on the other hand while portraying Kali she is equally ferocious, cunning and killing! Saurabh Raj Jain plays a passively aggressive Shiva and his aggression is not directed towards the world, on the contrary it is towards driving the realisation of Parvati's innermost Shakti'. Saurabh is absolutely suited for the role, as if it had been written for him. His facial attributes do not let him put on the garb of a destroyer, it has a very calm and placid aspect to it which is why when Kali dons the garb of a destroyer, Shiva is just left to be a mute spectator who has to lie down with an intent to come under Kali's feet to alley the tempest conjured by her fierce self. Saurabh can do an even better job, if he incorporated certain facial expressions in some scenes at least instead of having that straight-faced zombie-like dialogue delivery thingy going on almost all throughout. In some mid-shots and close up shots, his eyes speak volumes while in some long shots, that same thing doesn't quite work out.
Great attention has been paid to the costumes and jewellery as well. The set too has been done up in a lovely manner. The claustrophobia of the devils' den and the openness of the Kailash and the battlefield look pretty convincing. Parvati so far looks ethereal in a white fluttering Georgette/Chiffon Lehenga with golden embroidery on the borders amidst the snow. Her light jewellery as opposed to Kali's weapons, head gear, the Mundmaal (Skull garland) the thick hair, the face paint, the waistband, the foot jewellery make a stark contrast between the characters. Shiva's minimalist tiger skin cloak perfectly wraps him waist down, the Jata' or the dreadlocks also have suited Saurabh, the only thing being it is a little too big for his head and at times seems to be falling off.
The high point of the episodes seen is definitely Parvati's realisation of her inner powers and the ensuing transformation into the slow-mo running fuming MahaKaali'.
We understand, there is always a pressure of churning out episode after episodes, so at times it becomes herculean to pay attention to everything. That is why there are glitches on the editing front. Some sequences don't match and there are continuity problems as well. For instance, when Kali urges the other Goddesses to shed all inhibitions and join allies with her, their attires change and in the very next scene they are back in the previous attires. The scene where Mahakaali is walking uphill, yet at times it seems as though she is walking on a plain land and thereafter, she coughs up fire which didn't come out properly onscreen. It was almost guesswork for the audiences. All in all the CGI needs to improve. The colour correction is a bit too saturated as of now; the colorist needs to incorporate some real life hues as well. The bloodshed, which is an integral part of the destruction that Kali is so related to, looks shoddy as well. Especially when RaktBeej's blood scatters all around and Kali gulps every drop of it, it could have been much better, in sequences where Kali chops bodies into halves looks plain slipshod.
All said and done, Mahakaali is robust serial making and sits nicely with Tewary's impressive body of work. It is riveting and at times overwhelming with its research in place. It is a reminder of how the TV space can be utilised to tell stories that have never been told before and also of how skilfully Tewary marries affecting character drama with sheer spectacle. We're going with three out of five. It is one of TV's best soaps so far.
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