Kalidas was arguably one of the most talented poet and dramatist around the world. Though he created stuffs only in Sanskrut (Sanskrit) language; his creations are famous around the world. Best known for his magnum opus अभिज्ञानशाकुन्तलम् (Abhijñānashākuntala or Abhijñānaśākuntalam); Kalidas’ creations include विक्रमोर्वशीयम् (Vikramōrvaśīyam), Mālavikāgnimitram, कुमारसम्भव (KumarSambhavam), मेघदूत (Meghadūta) and others.
Due to his incredible input into Sanskrit literature the impact of Kalidas is evident in the Indian culture. That is the reason why ace Film and TV Serial maker Shyam Benegal dedicated two episode of Hindi TV Serial Bharat Ek Khoj to Kalidas and Shakuntala.
I like to share a personal memory regarding Kalidas from my childhood days. I used to hear that famous German poet “Goethe” was so fascinated with अभिज्ञानशाकुन्तलम् after reading it, that he danced by holding it on his head. Well, later Goethe translated it to German language for sure.
Let us talk about the first episode from the same.
The makers of the TV show (and the author of the book) tries to explore Kalidas’ life and literature from a common man’s perspective. A kind of love for nature and surroundings in Kalidas’ creations.
Possible incidents from life of Kalidas are explored pretty nicely. Kalidas was in love of Mallika a local village girl living in his neighbourhood. It indirectly suggests that Kalidas happened be in times of emperor Chandragupta Vikramaditya II. Kalidas was in love of nature and animals so much, that despite of King’s invitation to live in the city and become a permanent member of his court, Kalidas decided not to go.
However Mallika knew how to convince Kalidas.
This segment explores a song “Aaaya Paavas Raja Aaya” through out these incidents. The song is effective and the smell of the nature and royalty is evident in that.
Not taking the achievements and importance given to him/her very seriously makes the person even more respected in the society.
Kalidas’ journey in the court, his marriage to a lady from royal family etc. are mentioned through events, rather than spending time exploring them. It is good.
The episode even hints that the famous opus of Kalidas “Meghdoot” is inspired by his real life incidents. For those who are not familiar with Meghdoot, it tells how a yakṣh (or Yaksha), a subject of Kubera (the god of wealth), after being exiled for a year to Central India for neglecting his duties, convinces a passing cloud to take a message to his wife, living at Alka on Mount Kailāsa in the Himalaya. The imagination itself is so fascinating – asking a cloud be his messenger – what an idea.
The episode hints, that probably Kalidas was missing unconditional pious love of Mallika when living in Ujjaini. And Meghdoot is his own way to explore his loneliness. And he is, at least subconsciously, exploring his own feelings.
The scene where one of the Kalidas’ friend discusses him his plans about future life and Mallika, before he leave for Ujjaini, is very well executed. It shows that how sometimes the artists, living in the world of fantasy, are running away from the realities.
Similarly the reaction of people from Kalidas’ inner circle, when they found that Kalidas skipped visiting his hometown when came to the neighborhood, is realistic too. The conversation between Mallika and Kalidas’ wife is well written too.
The story of King Dushyant (of Lunar dynasty) and Shakuntala is weaved into the episode effectively. This episode explores the initial segment of the story.
We see that Sage Kanva was out of his Ashram. And King Dushyant came to the area while hunting. He decided to visit the Ashram. At the same time Shakuntala was roaming around. She was feeling uncomfortable due to hot temperature. How Dushyant approaches her and how they fall in for each other is the rest of the tale – explored in this episode.
The songs (as creations of Kalidas) covers almost half of the episodes. The music here is first rate. The songs are meaningful. Importantly they adds to the contemporariness of the episode content. The episode content is inspired by the famous play Ashadh Ka Ek Din by Mohan Rakesh.
There are no larger than the life sets or stunning SFX or VFX to delight you visually. However the camera work is really adorable. The beauty is explored pretty nicely. Kalidas’ love for nature and animals is filmed nicely. The Village homes are realistic. So does the wardrobe of the principal cast. Even the ornaments are authentic.
The real life the middle class or village people living those days is filmed pretty authentically. Not only their wardrobe and ornaments are authentic as said earlier, the way of walking, talking and gestures are taken care of nicely. The dialogs are of high quality, and you find them simple yet sharp.
Overall background music adds to the positives of the episode, without a doubt.
The dialogs written for Dushyant and Shakuntala’s tale are of high quality. The original play itself is full of “Shringar Ras” – the beauty worship. It was the time when people were broad-minded and exploring the beauty of life as it is. They didn’t run away from realities and the beauty was respected. The play shows that how vulnerable is the teen-age. It is obvious to get attracted to a really attractive opposite-sex person at this age, especially when you are living in kind of isolation and you are having only same-gender friends.
During teen age the people usually lives in the world of ideology and often consider everyone, as genuine as they speak. The promises are respected the most in this age.
The way this episode draws parallel between (possible) real life incidents of Kalidas – and that of – Dushyant and Shakuntala’s tale, are applaudable.
Kalidasa – article at Wikipedia
Abhijñānaśākuntalam – article at Wikipedia
Meghduta – article at Wikipedia
Definitely a nice episode exploring the events of legend poet, playwright, author – Kalidas. The simplicity in executions, nice dialogs and good performances makes it worth watching.
Did you watch this TV Serial? Are you going to buy it’s DVD Set? (It is available in two versions, economic edition and premium edition)? Do share your thoughts via comments below. And yes, if you like this article, don’t forget to share with your friends and loved ones on various social networks 🙂 And yes, watch out for next episode review for Bharat Ek Khoj.