Not simply for entertainment : the failure of Kahani hamare Mahabharat ki and its place in a new generation of televised Indian mythology

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Title: Not simply for entertainment : the failure of Kahani hamare Mahabharat ki and its place in a new generation of televised Indian mythology
Author: Burnam, Reed Ethan
Abstract: This thesis looks at the media event of Kahani Hamare Mahabharat Ki (Our Story of the Mahabharat ) , a serialized , televised version of the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata which ran on prime -time Indian television from July to November 2008 . The show was created and produced by Balaji Telefilms and Ekta Kapoor , well known throughout Asia for extremely successful prime -time soap -operas which have come to be representative of the genre in India . Kahani Hamare Mahabharat Ki was canceled quite early in its run (it was intended to air for upwards of three years ) due to low ratings and intense viewer criticism of the program . The bulk of the criticism compared it unfavorably to an earlier version aired by B .R . Chopra and his team in 1988 -90 , which is to this day remembered as one of the most watched events in Indian television history , and is still widely seen as a largely “successful” visual translation of the story to television . This thesis analyses the dimensions of Kahani Hamare Mahabharat Ki’s promises to offer something both “old and new” to the Indian public , its internal structure , the influences upon its creation , its failure , the nature of the criticism against it , and how it sparked a large public debate about how “authenticity” and “tradition” are currently being conceptualized by modern popular media in India . The thesis takes data and evidence from a variety of scholarly , print , online , and ethnographic sources to demonstrate that Kahani Hamare Mahabharat Ki’s failure was much more complex than the case of its being simply a “bad” show ; rather it reveals that to many , Chopra’s earlier version has become in some ways monolithic , containing an essential “rightness” that speaks to broader concerns about the current state of India’s cultural and religious heritage as refracted through the lens of modern media . This thesis examines Kahani Hamare Mahabharat Ki as one unique occurrence within a much broader field of mythological /devotional programming currently available in India , and points to the need for a larger scholarly study of this phenomenon .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -05 -1468
Date: 2010-11-05

Citation

Not simply for entertainment : the failure of Kahani hamare Mahabharat ki and its place in a new generation of televised Indian mythology. Master's thesis, University of Texas at Austin. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2152 /ETD -UT -2010 -05 -1468 .

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