In the previous episode, we had a brief look at the life of King Shantanu, and his river/wife/queen Ganga. We saw her kill their newborn babies one after another, while Shantanu watched helplessly. While the reason is unknown, we can imagine that the heartless killings must have some substance to them. Why else would a mother kill seven of her newborns? In this episode we will see Shantanu choose between his love for his wife and his love for his children that don’t get to see a day of life.
Ganga reveals the truth
“Naath ke hote, koi anaath kaise ho sakta hai raajan?”
Welcome to the twisted world of Hastinapur, where the maids wonder loudly about their masters’ personal lives. They feel pity for the king and disgust for their queen. Just as this is happening, Ganga comes out with the eighth child. Shantanu, unable to contain the rage that was bubbling since the death of seven of his children, does what he always feared he would do. He stops her.
The moment that we waited for arrives, and like most of the stories during that time, this has a link to previous birth. Ganga tells Shantanu how both of them are living out a curse, and how she is freeing those babies from that curse. We get a flashback scene in Lord Indra’s heavenly court. The effect of the heavens reflecting on the floor where the apsaras are dancing is so beautiful, I had to do a double take to see how they did it.
The cred that the producers get from that scene is lost in the next scene where we see Brahma the creator, with three cardboard heads. I wonder if the special effects were outsourced to different contractors.
So back to the story, when Ganga and Shantanu cross eyes in the heavenly court, wind starts blowing and exposes Ganga’s body. While all the devs lower their eyes out of respect, Shantanu keeps staring, and obviously Ganga’s father lord Brahma gets angry at them. Yes I said them. At Shantanu for staring and at Ganga for letting him stare. He cursed both of them to be banished to Earth. Honestly, the writing of this show falls so low sometimes, it’s surprising to me that it’s the same show as the previous episode. The guy who played Brahma seemed like he forgot his lines and improvised on the spot.
Now that Shantanu broke his promise, Ganga has to leave him. She explains to him that the seven infants were elemental gods banished to earth as well, as part of a different curse. Ganga had promised them that she will birth them and kill them to relieve their pain.
Since our king stopped her from killing the child, she asks him to let her keep the child. She will return the child when the time comes. We can already see the child is destined for great things.
Shantanu, long waiting for Ganga to return, finds two infants abandoned in the forest by a sage.He says it is a blessing by the ‘kripa’ (blessing) of the sage and takes them in. He names them kripa and kripi. (more on them later).
Rajguru tells Shantanu to keep the children to fulfill his child-less life. Shantanu gets triggered, telling him he’s got a child and Ganga will bring him back (she will, right?) and tells Rajguru to raise them himself. Rajguru is to be blamed for his own downfall. How is he expected to raise two children on his own? We don’t know what the poor man earns!
Sixteen years later
Shantanu has a beard now, and like sixteen years ago is still a sad sack. He is waiting for Ganga to give him back his child. Again, the special effect’s age shows in this episode, as we see CGI arrows block the path of the mighty river. Shantanu goes to investigate and see who made this arrow dam/dam of arrows, whatever the thing was that had blocked the river.
Here we are again, at the banks of Ganga. Shantanu with a bow in his hand, and Ganga coming out of the river. Sixteen years later. She is not coming back, but hey at least he gets his son back!
We get to see Dev-vrat, the long lost son of Shantanu, a legend in making.
It is evident by the long conversation between Devvrat and Shantanu that he is a gentleman and a scholar. Devvrat was trained well by Guru Vashishth. After testing his son on various philosophical and moral lessons, he is at peace. He knows he finally has someone who can be the heir to the throne. But this is Mahabharat and it is a tragedy, so we can never expect good things to happen can we?
But, Great things can already be expected from Devvrat, as we see him tame a wild horse that many soldiers couldn’t control. The effects on this one were very nice, I could barely make out the fake horse from the real one. Devvrat goes for a ride and meets a whole army coming to annex Hastinapur. It is led by the prince of Shalva kingdom. Devvrat uses some magic arrows that he learned to use in heaven (yes) to literally bring a storm of wind and fire and rain that incapacitates the incoming army.
The premise of this whole episode was to introduce the viewer to Devvrat or who will later be called Bhishma. He plays a critical role in the events that will unfold. His strength, intelligence and morality are qualities that will be discussed for millenia. This episode was okay-ish in my honest opinion, but I think that it was because it is a setup for things to come. It is laying the groundwork for various philosophical and moral dilemmas that the multitude of characters in Mahabharat will face.
Putra kuptra bhale hi ho, parantu mata kumata kabhi nahi hoti (A son can be a bad son, but a mother can never be a bad mother)