Thursday, July 10, 2008

Shri Mahabharat Katha - FAQ

Given our expertise on the subject, it is not surprising that our mailbox has been flooded by people wanting to understand the Kahani of Mahabharat. So we thought it better to answer the most common questions here instead of in private e-mails.

After all, answering questions is beneficial to your fame.

In episode one, etna andhera kyoon hai bhai? (Why so dark?)

First off, it is night. Secondly, they are sitting in a courtyard, thereby diffusing the available light even further.

And they have just proved our theories about ancient lighting systems. How? If you see closely, there is hardly anybody who is wearing full reflective golden jewellery.

In episode two, why did the Mushaka kept flying through the forest? Especially when he knew that he could fly just above or just to the right and avoid the trees altogether?

Any pilot worth his tail(fin) knows that the “nape of the earth” approach means that you fly almost at treetop level, and not below the tree line.

Now by this time the Mushaka should have enough practise to judge the correct flight path for the weight on his back, and avoid flying through the same forest twice. Also, looking at how irritated Ganesh looked trying to get all the branches and leaves out of his face, this is one giant mouse who is due for a major dressing down, if not for a pink slip.

Are we about to see 360 degree shots starting from multiple angles with the name of the character said over and over again every time a new character is introduced? And even later whenever the character is on the screen? (Who knew Ganga had so many names, or rather, adjectives)

Well, at least 50% of the viewers (the men who watch saas-bahu serials balancing the numbers for the women who don't) see most of the actors as completely unrelated, and in many cases, completely opposite characters if they just change the channel. So, it is understandable that they want to make sure everybody recognizes a character from every possible angle (kind of like when you get 360 degree views of cellphones or cars on websites).

And they have to hammer name in our heads enough times for the same reason. So many times in fact, that you are almost forced to ask like Raabert, "etane saare naam? baaki log kidhar hain?" (So many names? Where are other people?)

Plus, it helps in keeping the plot of an episode within two lines. And have you forgotten the 90-10 rule of mythological serials?

Since Ganesh, being a God of Knowledge, is omniscient, why didn't he just know what Vyasa was going to tell him? In short, why didn't he write the story himself?

This particular question deserves a whole chapter in our upcoming book on Mahabharata. But in short, Vyasa is known as “Adya Kavi” (the First Poet). Given modern poetry, do you think it is so surprising that even the God of Knowledge, in his infinite wisdom, does not understand poetry?

What kind of wolf did Devavrata kill?

Aah... contrary to popular belief, it was a Himalayan Wolf, and not Gray Wolf (a species commonly found near Greece till it was endangered by the Spartans).

Keep them coming folks. We live but to serve...

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Kissa Cricket Ka Part IV

While Gully Cricket awaits ICC approval (hey, the same number of people watch Gully Cricket as do Ranji), there is another form of cricket which has long gone unacknowledged. But perhaps that is fitting, since the main purpose of Book Cricket was to entertain students who had to sit through boring classes, while still looking as “study” to watchful teachers (Underground Cricket, if you will).

For those who don’t know, the rules and format are pretty simple. Take any book, the bigger the better (though smaller books had their own advantages. Read on). The “batsman” will open the book to a random page, and the “score” is based on the LSD of the even page number. 2, 4 and 6 are self-explanatory. 0 is “out” (no dot-balls allowed). 8 had many interpretations, from 8 runs for general players, to a single or no-run for seasoned veterans. Given the running between the wickets of Indian batsmen in that time, we didn’t need anything for 3 runs.

The zero-preparation and easy format allowed matches of all flavour (from ODI to Test to OPI – One Period International), played between bench-mates, or between benches. And as in the normal form of game, heroes (and some villains) emerged. Some “players” had such absolute run of luck that they were responsible for making some of our friends' loss of faith in so-called Probability, while others tried to restore that belief and the "cosmic balance".

And then, there were those who could emulate Bradman by getting exact score they wanted, with a skill which would impress even the best card-sharps in town. (You see kids, getting to know your text-books better is good for you). I can tell you some tales of a well-thumbed mathematics book (what? I like Maths. Anybody got problem with that?), with page number 10… well, let’s wait for those anti-match-fixing guys to go out of earshot, shall we?

The epic battles which raged in class included some ultra-low scores, with some runs thrown in between a string of 0's to avoid suspicion, and/or soothe our conscious. They also included some extra-high scores, particularly one innings, where the luck favoured us so much that the opening batsmen had scored more individually than Kambli-Tendulkar pair in their record partnership, before the bell rang. Before that, the opposing team had collapsed to a measly 17/10.

Thus, Book Cricket (along with pencil-football, and a form of pencil-battle), carried us across many a school days, while our teachers tried to make us understand that “energy crisis is over” or something like that. For those who haven’t played it yet, you can’t compare a well-played game of Book Cricket. Go open your books and start scoring.

And what reminded me of these happy times today? This match came straight out of BC, played on “home ground”, by people who were feeling particularly vicious about one team in the game.

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

P.S. Click here for parts I, II and III in the series.