I reacted with shock and awe on reading about an initiative to spread the love of God—a 2006 calendar ” with 12 staged photos depicting erotic scenes from the Bible.”
“There’s a whole range of biblical scriptures simply bursting with eroticism,” said Stefan Wiest, the 32-year-old photographer who took the titillating pictures.
Not being an expert on the Bible, I cannot vouch for the above assertion.
But what bothers me is what if, in an age where people are shamelessly aping the West, we also did something similar to our epics ?
It’s not as if we don’t have the raw material.As an example, let me refer you to this. And also this. A racy read no doubt—something that even Human Digest (yes yes that publication that a lot of people have read but noone talks about—for those who have genuinely never heard of it think of it as a more exciting cousin of Reader’s Digest) would be proud to have on its sticky, worn-out, dog-collared pages.
But what if someone made a mega-epic based on the classics and intentionally focused upon the parts which BR Chopra and Ramanand Sagar glossed over with their bhajans and whole episodes devoted to baby Krishna playing with a ball?
What if we see on the video shelves– “Panchali does Pandavas” on the lines of “Debbie Does Dallas” ?
This possibility is reason enough to immediately edit the Mahabharata and make Draupadi monogamous.
Another example. Drona’s father sees the celestial apsaras clothless bathing in a river, has an “American Pie” moment and Drona is born inside a pot. Which is what Drona means—born in a pot.
Some people call this sure evidence that we had test-tube babies even then—–but I am somehow worried about the more salacious consequences. What if some filmmaker , someone who claims to worship the “female form” (or in other words, a dirty old man who likes to see girls in the nude) recreates this whole episode in a “Ram Teri Ganga Maili/Anubhav” type setting and passes it off on impressionable minds? That’s even worse than smoking “pot”.
So when I tell my grandkids the story of Drona’s birth I am just going to say that his mother found him in a temple. Or that a stork brought him in. I suggest you do the same.
The reason I am worried is because Hindi film people have been cannibalizing the adult bits of Mahabharata for years. Shakti Kapoor and Gulshan Grover have, in their movies, recreated the vastraharan scene so many times that I have lost count. Or maybe because I wasn’t counting while watching these scenes. In any case, the “Bhagwan ke liye mujhe chor do” line is an echo of what Drapuadi said in the crowded court—-of course the addition of “Bhagwan ke liye tujhe chor doon, to main kya prasad khayoonga” is just a monstrosity added by the moviemakers to drive home their point.
Having read the original Mahabharata translated into bengali, I was horrified at the scene where Jayadarata ogles Draupadi as she emerges from the river like an ancient-day Brigette Bardot and the explicitness Jayadrata uses to describe Draupadi would make even the worst street Romeo cringe. And this incident is virtually repeated with Kichaka in King Birat’s court.
As well as in the story of Nal and Damayanti, where a horny Rakshash gets bad ideas after seeing Damayanti in a rather skimpy one-cloth dress. Good thing that this part of the story was edited out in the 1945 movie “Nal Damayanti” with Prithviraj and Sobhana.
Which just goes to show that with good sense , as displayed by BR Chopra, the story can be conveyed without taking recourse to such vulgarities. I remember the scene where Mukesh Khanna..sorry Bhishma’s father Santanu consummates his marriage with Ganga or Kiran Juneja with the line :” Main abh ganga-snan karna chahta hoon”.
Or the time when the rishi and his wife, who were mating as dear, was killed by Pandu for which as we all know a horrible curse came upon him. Thankfully BR Chopra showed the old sage couple dying as dear—-a less sensible director might have shown them morphing back to their human forms as they died—-that would be just so horrible as there is nothing as unpleasant in the world as displaying old people having sex.
Also when Pandu dies in a transport of passion with Madri because of the effect of the curse, all that BR Chopra shows is Pandu saying:” Tum ati sundar ho Madri” after which he obligingly drops dead on the floor. In the hands of a lesser director, this may have become a Basic Instinct like scene–ice pick and all.
Another problem is skepticism—people are just not willing to accept miracles any longer.
I mean what’s so bizarre about Kunti having a kid before her marriage from The Sun Lord and then 3 after her marriage from the Lord of Death, the Lord of the Air and the Lord of Lords? Its perfectly believable that Gods came down and magically impregnated her—–the alternative explanation that guys with the name of Surya, Dharma, Pavan and Indra stayed in her locality is just plain hokum.
Some people even make an anti-Bengali joke out of the birth of Pandoo. We all know that Vyas, a sage with rather poor body hygiene, came and impregnated the queens. One of the queens turned white or rather resisted the natural flow of the act of sexual congress and her son consequently was born weak.
The joke I heard in this context was that the queen being a Bong could not pronounce “V” (Bengalis say “Bajra” [thunder] rather than “Vajra” ) and when she said “Vyas Vyas” in order to encourage the swami, the sage heard “Baas Baas” (enough, enough) and so this caused the misunderstanding.
As Mr T would say:” I pity the fool”.
I hope you all now understand why the Mahabharata and the Ramayana need to be sanitized and rendered kid-safe. Though originally written for the noble purpose of entertaining, with the religious bits merely serving as moral justifications for rationalizing the guilty pleasure of enjoying what was essentially a gigantic, extremely-well-crafted, fast-paced novel whose scope encompassed all emotion known to man (including lust) , it now urgently needs to be morphed into something totally different.
Ever since a mosque came down and a bald man crisscrossed the country in a funnily decorated jeep, we have become aware of our Hindu heritage—a heritage we have been led to believe is intolerant, rigid and puritan and which can only be understood with the help of RSS men in khaki shorts.
The classics thus need to be modified in order to keep pace with this change or “jagaran”.
Tha’s why we need to take out all the fun, all the humanity and replace it with propriety and “morals”—where’s Sushma Swaraj when you need her?
No polyandry, no polygamy, no neighborhood uncles, no desperate housewives, no forced disrobings, no “lolitaaaaaaa”, no more pot abuse, no sensual descriptions and no more anti-Bong innuendo.
I mean it.