When BR Chopra's version of Mahabharat got permission from Doordarshan to come up with a cinematic version of the epic, and break it into a serial format. He introspected a lot on how to present this epic saga to the public. As the saying goes "Jo kahani Mahabharat mein nehi hai, who kahi nahi hai" and hence, the team later decided to have a narrator in the serial whose face won't be shown on the screen but who should have a compelling voice depicting the time. Their initial choice had been actor DIlip Kumar. Due to some reason, his name got dropped and Chopra seemed to be impressed with my voice-over in a television advertisement then called me.
How are you spending your time in the lockdown?
The style of lockdown is not new to me. I have one studio at home the reason being that I cater to clients around the globe so I have to maintain several time zones. For the last couple of years, I am mostly operating from my home where I have a separate office, study room and a studio. But in this lockdown, I have learnt some additional skills, like doing dishes and cleaning my house.
Any plotline of Mahabharat which has touched you.
It is very difficult to say as Mahabharat is the rarest of rare epic in the world because the writer Ved Vyas himself is an important character in it. He is the father of Drishtarashtra, Pandu and Vidur who later took the story forward.
Who is your favourite character from Mahabharat?
Krishna is my favourite character because he represents love, philosophy and diplomacy all at the same time.
After Mahabharat what kept you busy for so many years?
I run two voice websites which provide recorded audio content to clients across 38 countries. Currently, I am working on audio content for a client in the USA. I have also written 5 to 6 serials which include Khandaan, Sukanya, Grahan, Choti Badi Baatein and so on. I have also directed movies like ISIS – Enemies of Humanity & Kashmir – The ultimate solution. I have also written the biography of Lata Mangeshkar after having attended 140 events across 21 countries with her and the book was later translated into 3 more languages. I have also written mini books on Asha Bhonsle, Amitabh Bachchan, RD Burman and Muhammad Rafi. With the grace of God, so far I have 25,000 recordings to my credit.
Often times, Politicians use Mahabharat as a reference, what is your take on that?
I have often being asked why Mahabharat has been made 4 times, why it is shown again and again, why it is even popular today when we have advanced so much technologically. The reason is very simple – Mahabharat is a story from Pitrabhakti (Respect for father) to Putrmoha (Love for son). It holds a mirror to-dos & don'ts of life and nudges us to rise above the perils of emotions and be righteous in life.
When someone talks negatively about Mahabharat. Does it affect you?
There are people who will talk negatively about everything just to get media space. As we all know the saying "When a dog bites a man that is not news because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news". So if you keep saying good things no one will listen to you. Mahabharat is a symbolic epic and B.R. Chopra's Mahabharat has analyzed it so well. Draupadi was born out of the fire and that symbolizes Nari Shakti (Women Power). So the people who criticize they have not understood the epic and not even tried to understand it. I feel pity for those who criticize Mahabharat.