Since December last, after the Soap on Life OK - "Devon Ke Dev - Mahadev" came to an end, I've had this urge to put my obsession for it, on paper. I somehow postponed it, for it felt very difficult to do this. I'm not a very good writer, I know it. I know it because, unless I'm obsessed about a given content, my own pieces of writing never made great reads for me. I don't find much creativity in my writing, I don't bring out the different facets of a feeling well on paper. Especially when I describe a situation, I feel I present it too simply ignoring the many dimensions a writer can touch upon. Also, as you would have already observed, three-fourths of my writing in this blog is just about myself - what do I think, how do I think, what do I like and so on...I know how difficult it is to read such stuff. But what you must know is, it is more difficult to write such self-indulging stuff. But why do I write then? One might ask! I'm bad at writing, fine, but what I'm good at is, I very comfortably allow my mediocrity to take shape. I excuse myself of the mistakes I do, of the flaws I have.
Alright, back to self-criticism from self-appreciation...I find my writing very dry myself, quite monotonous in style. And with this kind of writing, imagine attempting to give a written form to my obsession...now how bad can that get? But that's obsession after all. So here I'm finally doing it and trust me, this is a very complicated test for me, in this very moment, right now, as it unfolds...
Devon Ke Dev was the much-needed Guru for me in times of need. You know it all, we are now in the Age of Science and Reasoning (read it Information and Technology) when the very existence of spirit/soul is doubted (and "kept open" in the name of Skepticism and lack of evidence) and it is very difficult to get a genuine Guru who could guide one on the course of Spiritual Awakening. We read it in books or watched in movies that once upon a time, there lived sages who did penance for some outer-world merit...guided their students to realize their goals in life. But now can we find such people? Even if we did, do we trust them enough? Devo Ke Dev filled that space for me.
First and foremost, it held many answers for my questions which nobody else could answer. It also gave rise to many questions, for whose answers I kept looking for. It opened up a whole world of exploration for me. It was the only entity that offered me some solace and consolation in the otherwise dim and dull life, last three years. But the most beautiful part of Mahadev is its intriguing stories. And the most powerful connect - its Music!
An average child in Andhra Pradesh or perhaps even in India at large, grows up listening to stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata. That is all the mythology they would know. Bhagavatham at best, perhaps. I was no different. I made no efforts to know other stories, well perhaps except those stories which I encountered randomly through movies. To top it, I was an ardent devotee of Lord Narayana and never cared enough to even pray to Lord Shiva. Hence many stories told in Devon Ke Dev were really new to me. That must have made the serial all the more interesting to me. Looking back, it's so funny the way I used to pray to Lord Narayana and Narayana alone...it was as though I was exercising some kind of sectarianism! The other side of it was, I was really content praying to one God... no confusion that way!... Anything and everything I can dump on my God...anything and everything I can demand from my God...that kind of relationship with God is in effect a relationship with your own self, because in these prayers and this exchange of ideas there is only truth flowing and you get to know yourself and your wants better. Anyway now I pray both Hari and Hara. I even opened up to praying to other Gods.
Anyway, back to Mahadev! It is said that people enjoy a story better through a book than through a movie. I doubt it. I had always felt that the bias is a result of 'First Come Best Connect' possibility. Yeah, whichever one you are introduced to, first, you connect with that the most...that's what I feel. Because, the first impressions are created by that first connected entity and one's self perceives those first impressions more intimate and endearing. When a similar version is shown the second time, it fails to evoke the same emotions. It happens even with remade movies. Let's say Ghajini movie...it was first made in Tamil (Of course I watched the Telugu-dubbed version of it). When I watched the Hindi version, I felt that the Tamil/Telugu version was much much better...and that Suriya acted better than Aamir. Now, I don't know if that's really the case (well nobody can judge for sure which/who was better) but I'd guess that, had I watched the Hindi version first, my liking would have been the other way round.
Anyway, back to Mahadev! I don't know if I would have connected well with Shiva's stories had I read them, but watching it on screen, I can only say that the team behind Devon Ke Dev - Mahadev has just created a magnum opus. Every piece of this work has been put to together and etched so meticulously and so lovingly that you feel that this is the work of a group of die-hard devotees of Shiva as an ode to their God, who after some penance might have asked for a boon from Shiva to enable them express their devotion in some form...How much ever you watch it, you can never get enough of it! You feel like taking the nectar more and more...more and more... Ok don't take that literally. "You" might not feel the same way...but I felt that way. To say that it was enchanting and mesmerizing, is an understatement. It was more than hypnotic!
As told here, one would start questioning, "Is it really possible, all for just a bunch of people, to create such a work?" Of course, it is their passion at play there...it shows. But still, the question more is - "Is it only these people who did this? Or is there some force that binds all these people?" The actors who played the roles seem to be tailor-made for what they play. Be it Shiva, Parvati, Sati, Lakshmi, Narayana, Karthikeya, Ganesha, Manasa, Ashok Sundari, Lohitank, Kumari ... each of them was just perfect. Once you watch them on-screen, you never feel that it would have been better had somebody else acted. By the way, though this serial started way back in Dec 2011, I started watching it only since some Aug 2012. Though the original version is the Hindi Telecast on Life OK, I started off with this serial with its Telugu version on Maa TV. And this apparently lagged the Hindi version by 8 months. And after few months of the weekly Sunday telugu episodes on TV, I started watching the serial in Hindi on Internet. Though I started exploring it back and forth ever since then, I've not watched the series in its totality yet!
By the way, I could never be sure who looked more beautiful - Sati or Parvati - though off-screen I find Sonarika (who played Parvati) more gorgeous than Mouni Roy (who played Sati).
When I first watched this song, I had goosebumps. Not once, it continued for a few months every time I listened to it, after which it kind of synced into me. This serial had a powerful background score. A very powerful one at that. It has that mystic divine undercurrent all the time rendering the hypnotic element. Well, it depends on how aligned you are, to it.
I've heard of Samadhi before. I've only heard of it, I obviously didn't know how it felt. But during these three years I was experiencing this on and off. To be in Samadhi for months (predominantly between June 2013 - Jan 2014) together yet carry on with this mundane life was no easy task. The most problematic thing was, back then I didn't even know I was in Samadhi. When I was falling and falling down freely in the vast abundance of no-thing-ness, with no impulse to wake me up...when my mind was frozen as if under thick sheets of ice, miles deep...when I was drifting aimlessly like a kite which lost its connection with its anchor...when I was both dying and living at the same time, it was this music that pulled the last sheath inside me to spring up to life. What ever little was alive inside me, had to bounce back to life, listening to this music which I regularly kept trumpeting in my ears...sometimes even without my knowledge. (Previously, the video content of this video was full of snippets of Mohit Raina from the serial). When I listen to this music, I know how powerful and affective, the sound of Damarukam can be! And the longer version of "ShiiiivaShiiivaShiiiivaShiiiiva" chant is here, which I used to allow myselves to drift in amidst my work at office, when in reality nothing was actually moving. I needed this animated environment to feel like I was doing something, that I was making progress at least at some snail's pace! Nothing-ness alone "might" have been fine, but nothing-ness along with "everything" was a pain beyond expression.
And then, the most awesome video is here! No this one was good not during nothing-ness, it was during extreme aggression. Though same as the first audio song, I used to watch this over and over when my frustration and anger needed some vent out. When it seemed that the world was turning out Godless, that there was nobody to take care of those languishing with pain for centuries on Earth, I used to watch this. It somehow used to give me some solace. It used to give me this hope that some light years away there was some force at work to address my prayers, that there was somebody hearing me complain. I so much used to wish that those light years melt away as soon as possible. It used to instill in me some confidence that, if not today, if not some years down the line, at least some centuries down the line, these prayers and pain would have been acknowledged. The rock solid pain in my head also could melt once in a while through tears when no other impetus could shake me off from that molten heat as it if was balling up in my head.
And after talking so much about the music composition for this serial, wouldn't it be bad not to check who rendered it? It is these both - Sunny Bawra and Inder Bawra.
That pic was captured when they were bidding adieu to the Mahadev serial. You must see how sad they were then!
The Difference! The Relevance!
This serial was quite different from the devotional Telugu movies of this kind. Say for instance, Bhukailas. In all these movies, the love relationship between a God and a Goddess is rarely explored. It is often this God-Devotee relationship that is emphasized. Penance, boons, Gods watching over the worlds, as if they are watching some fun, as if it is all their leela (magic), as if they are testing people, as if each of the divine couples have no work but to watch things going on around and as if they are always at our service some stone's throw away...all this does not seem to bring out the essence of God in our lives. A very orthodox way of bringing out the essence of God, I would say...it increases that power distance between God and human.
Well, still movies like Bhukailas do not carry the hypnotic effect of the Mahadev serial. They don't have that pomp and glare, they are more plain and pleasant to watch, I must agree. It is just that such movies do not explore some elements of Gods' lives...is all I'm saying. Maybe they can't...in just 2 hours of time, maybe a serial has the scope to do it better. But, Mahadev, for sure has succeeded to bring out those previously unexplored elements well on screen.
You get to see how Parvati not only yearns to marry her soulmate every time she takes birth but works towards it. The yearning, the craving is just like that of any other woman. On the outset, it looks as though the serial has over-emphasized the personal love and family relationships of the divine couple. But that is what makes it unique from any other movie/serial ever made so far. How the love between the divine couple is intertwined with their divine responsibilities towards the Universe...is brought out well here. How the divine couple, time and again take to rigorous Sadhana, to bring about the balance in the Universe, is so well explained and presented. There is this episode wherein Parvati, after Sadhana says that she pines to experience the togetherness with her husband not as Adishakti but as a normal woman. That pretty much sums up how the divine couple time and again get separated and come together to hold the universe in the already-much-referred-to balance and how arduous that task has been for both of them.
Now it's not just love! Love without progressing to marriage and family, is so unfulfilled, isn't it? This serial also shows Parvati fulfilling her role as a wife, and as a mother and Shiva fulfilling his role as a husband, and as a father. The timely guidance they offer their children, the freedom they give their children to make their choices in pursuit of their goals is also brilliantly put together. The regular viewer gets to receive lot of wisdom on parenting from these episodes. Well, Parenting is not learnt just by listening to some lessons. Nevertheless, for those those willing to take, this serial has a lot to offer on this front. All in all, carefully following the content will change one's family dynamics for good! Many complicated situations come up and it is shown how the family crosses those hurdles. See, it is not easy for Gods either. Be it when Karthikeya had to be sent to Krittikas and cannot be raised directly by the parents, be it when Parvati wants to fulfill her motherhood when her son comes back unwilling to join the parents initially, be it when Ganesha's head is knocked down by Shiva, be it when Ganesha gets a marriage proposal prior to Karthikeya getting married, be it when Parvati takes rebirths leaving back her children without mother's care, be it when Manasa questions Mahadev about the disparity being shown amongst his children....oh so many things...so many situations come up.
The undying, unwavering eternal love between the couple constantly nurtured through commitment, responsibility, mutual trust and respect..the bonding the family exhibits by abiding to dharmic principles, through mutual respect, adjustments and not encroaching into others' territory...all these elements stand very relevant for today's society especially as a very rapid course-correction.
Characters and Actors
Now, there is no need to mention the tremendous attention Mohit Raina, the actor who played Shiva, received. It's like the actor alone grabbed 95% attention from the audience and the rest 5% was left to other actors. Undeniably, there's some sort of magnetic aura associated with the actor when he gets into the shoes of that role. Of the three actresses who played Parvati, as far as I'm concerned, Sonarika was just perfect. Moni Roy played Sati. Both Moni and Sonarika were a class apart and it looks like the Goddess Herself has chosen them for the role. And as for Mohit, to say that Shiva has chosen him for the role, might not be sufficient...Mohit was just made for the role. But...but, you must see Sonarika as Kali and AdiShakti and you would start wondering...will there ever be one like this? There is a distinct difference between Sati and Parvati. Sati is more unevolved who faces a tragic end of not fulfilling her destiny with Shiva. On the other hand, Parvati goes a step ahead to evolve more to attain Shiva. (I often had a question why is it that only Goddess should work to reach her God, to become eligible to deserve her God...anyway I don't intend to debate it here!).
Naturally, since the serial revolves around Shiva and his family, other actors do not get much attention, just as it is the other way round in Ramayana and Mahabharata serials. Infact, the actors who played Narayana and Lakshmi - Saurabh Raj Jain and Ragini Dubey have put up some fine acting. They had very less scope but their conversations made it up all. When there is love, when there is understanding, one needn't do much explaining, in any relationship - their conversations mirror that perfect understanding. For instance, these are two of many such conversations, I just love! Especially Lakshmi Devi's portrayal is exactly as we all perceive the Goddess, very tolerant and understanding. I like how the lady emotes with her eyes and smile.
And now coming to Skanda and Ganesha. Both have been given apt scope for acting. But one gets to see that Skanda repeats one mannerism over and over again. There's one familiar look to the regular viewer, wherein he lowers his head and frowning his eye brows gazes constantly, which he repeats again and again to respond to various situations - both positive and negative alike. Nevertheless, he has acted extremely well, as an ambitious son who is often caught in a dilemma of where to draw the line between his pursuit of goals and how best to accommodate his parents' guidance. Ganesha here is shown to be a very intelligent kid who is very understanding of his parents and one would rarely see the divine couple offering any explicit guidance to him. In fact, you see that he himself approaches his parents with the right questions most of the times. The portrayal of Ashoka Sundari was very short, but the actress who played the younger variant seems pretty cute.
I think I like the role portrayal of Manasa, as the estranged daughter. A very powerful role portrayal, this one. All in all, I like the conversations between Shiva and Manasa. Portrayal of Brahma and Saraswati was very short and customary (but I liked the short and radiant smiles Brahma throws often). I wished I could see more of them in the serial, perhaps more stories which included them. In fact, you get to see more of Nandi here. There is even an episode on Nandi's marriage. The actor who played Nandi has done a commendable job. Another actor I must mention about is Sati's Mom. She is a beautiful actress and has done a good job enacting the dilemma of how to safeguard the interests of her daughter and how to be a dutiful wife. Oh, the actor who played both Maharshi Dadhichi and his son, Rishi Biplat played a perfect devotee. A perfect sage, a perfect mentor and an ardent devotee. The actor has got a very blessed role and he has had made the most of it.
There were few things which were not done much justice - portrayal of Manikanta, disconnectivity in Ashoka Sundari's role portrayal and marriage of Karthikeya. The story of Manikanta seems aloof and is not well connected with the rest of the series. One would wonder if Manikanta continued to remain in human realm and took further births here or if he ever got to attain his celestial self. You never get to see him along with the divine family, perhaps the scriptures they referred to did not have enough details? You only get to see Shiva and Nandi being worried about his safety once. I felt this part could have been explored a bit more in detail. And yes, the other one, I never knew when Skanda got married, but once I came across a mention of that. Also, after Ashoka Sundari gets married, you only get to see her once when Nahush who temporarily adorns the throne of heaven (usually Indra's throne) tries to abuse his power and when at about the same time Devi Parvati is in deep penance. You don't get to see her much even during the family events afterwards (or I don't know if the actress has been changed and if I couldn't recognize her).
Another thing that needs to be mentioned is that, Mohit Raina has not only succeeded as the hero but also as the villain. You sense the warmth of a father towards his children when he is Shiva just as you sense rivalry when he is fighting as Lohitank with Skanda and Ganesha. You see that this actor has displayed the brilliant knack of switching personalities and completely getting into the skin of the role assigned to him. The serial for sure, is a life-changer for Mohit. Not only Mohit, but for most others too, acting in this serial would have been a journey towards personal transformation.
Anyway, I can go on and on about it, but I must stop here, because if you are already part of the audience of this serial you know how vast it can get (I'm sure I've left touching upon many other important roles) and if you are not, there is no point going further...what I wrote is more than enough and by this time it would have already turned out to be pretty dragging.
All said, I'm not sure if the serial is completely based on authentic stories in scriptures. It is said, that the serial is also derived from some stories in folk lore that have been passed on over generations. But for me, it doesn't much matter. Who knows what is authentic and what is not, except the Gods themselves? What is more important is that, the serial has been very engaging, entertaining and mesmerizing. Of course, it is not without its share of boring pieces. Apart from the stories which were dragging and not too interesting, my own state led me to few instances wherein I felt I've taken enough of it and kept myselves away from it, sometimes for months.
All the three seasons of this serial are now on youtube. Now, it is hard to pick up one or even a couple of favourites. I have already touched upon a few, but I have many to list down. Here I go...
- The episode wherein Shiva mourns for the departed Sati.
- The episode wherein Parvati attains complete Self-Realization and approaches Shiva expecting him to come out of his Saadhana.
- The episode wherein Shiva explains his son Karthikeya the story behind his birth, what responsibilities lie in front of him and prepares him for the task.
- The episode wherein Shiva tells the tale of Matsyavatar of Narayana to Ashoka Sundari.
- The episode of Ksheera Sagara Mathanam.
- The episode wherein Ganesha approaches Nahush's parents to seek their son for marriage with his sister.
- The episode wherein Ganesha cooks for Skanda, when they are both away from parents.
- The episode wherein Shiva, Skanda and Ganesha do the needful to restore Parvati of her lost memories.
- The episode wherein Parvati becomes Adishakti to fight Mahishasur.
- The episode wherein Parvati takes on the Kali avatar to fight Andhak.
- The episode wherein Jalandhar talks to his love interest/wife about why he is waging war on Shiva.
- The episode wherein Manasa questions Shiva why she is not given the status of Goddess while Ganesha and Karthikeya are prayed as Gods.
- The episode wherein Shiva and Narayana are reinstated through the trinity form Dattatreya upon invoking by Anasuya.
- The episode wherein Shiva tries to explain the reality to Lohitank and shun his illusions; The episode wherein Devi Prithvi, mother of Lohitank doesn't turn up to bless him before the war; The episode of the 'musical war' between Shiva and Lohitank and subsequent realization of truth by Lohitank. I think I like the Lohitank series as a whole (The youtube ones are brief, the more serious viewer can visit tellysansar that has the last season in more detail)
- The episode wherein Skanda trains Kumari, the incarnation of his mother, in sword fighting.
Hmm, I might have missed many, but again it's not too important anyway, this is only for the records, perhaps rather for my own reference later.
No, no, it is not me who is departing. There has been a part inside me so far which frequently alluded you to some part of the serial to discuss a real life scenario - like...suicide? Oh I don't understand why Dadhichi had to give up his life; ah hormones and self-control? You know what, Skanda was put to such a test; corruption and regulation? Nothing doing, the Father himself must take the reins; Self-Realization? Of course, it's such a heck of a process, the Mother herself had a tough time - so on and so forth (so much so that these mentions went into my book too). Now, that part of me is taking leave from you all, now that the serial is over. But...but, I believe that part has filled the rest of me with enough wisdom that now I can look to the Universe around me, when I'm in search of guidance and take the cues and clues.
This post was something I started writing since some Feb 7th or 8th. Every day, I wanted to finish it off and publish, but couldn't, very much unlike how I've been doing so far in this blog - I think of something, grab the laptop and without much thinking type it down and publish whatever random stuff goes on in my mind. This was very different and as far as I can recollect the toughest writing assignment I have taken up in my life so far. When I read it now, I don't think I'm much satisfied with it because I know it doesn't evoke the same emotion towards the serial as I have for it. It doesn't translate my obsession effectively with its beauty and reverence retained. But, I know it's not possible. It is impossible for me to evoke the same awe in others. I wrote this because I was in awe of it myself as I parallelly made my journey of transformation. I know, same need not be the case with everybody. But again, one need not necessarily be undergoing a transformation process to be in awe of it. But I know for sure, a serious viewer would have been transformed in one way or the other by the end of it.
Am I mourning this leaving part? Maybe a bit, but I'm happy that it is finally leaving so that now I can implement what I have been learning. How long can one just only learn and not get to execute it? We are taking from the Universe all the time. But, sometimes we are expected to give it back. Rather, we must co-exist. When that co-existence is hit, the forces which are hurt or the forces which own up the responsibility to repair the conflict, are bound to awaken in some person or the other...yes in normal human beings that is! And human beings are spiritual beings with a human experience here, not human beings with a spiritual experience. Since time immemorial, such forces have been awakening and manifesting in human beings and transforming the world, for the Universe is an organic Whole. This saga, thus continues...