Now that the reign of Shantanu is over, we move on to bigger things. Things that will set in motion one of the biggest wars to take place in India. Bhishma, now the protector of the princes Chitrangad and Vichitravir as well as the kingdom, now holds the court by proxy.
Amba, Ambika, Ambalika
Ghatnaao aur durghatnaao ke paas koi ichchhashakti nahi hoti
I feel like some long unnecessary parts of the story are skipped, and rightly so. The part where Chitrangad takes up the throne and is killed by a Gandharv is just lost in narration and not acted out. Another story of Shantanu avoiding the marraige proposal of Devvrat and the sister of the King of Kashi. It is a step in the right direction, otherwise an epic like Mahabharat might get too long for the TV format.
For all the talk of courage and honor, the king of Kashi submitted pretty quickly to Bhishma’s arrows. The guy is named Bhishma, for god’s sake. Now I would like to mention that Bhishma’s behaviour might be problematic for many people. Some might even say it was misogynistic, treating women as objects, and other such points. But the truth is, that was a different time, and the role of women in society was different. This move of kidnapping the princess was less socially inclined and more politically inclined. It was to establish Hastinapur as the legendary kingdom that it always was, and to solidify the decades old tradition of marrying Kashi princesses to Hastinapur kings. This should not get in the way of enjoying the story as it was written.
Either Shalva Naresh (Yes he is a king now) is very brave, or very stupid. Despite being defeated by a barely armed, young Bhishma in the past, he still has the balls to challenge a fully grown Bhishma. Of course, Bhishma tries to avoid conflict, and forgives him this time as well. I kinda feel sorry for the dude, he was right in this context. On the other hand, while Bhishma kidnapped the princesses, the moment he knew about the love affair of Amba and ShalvaRaj, he respectfully sent her to Shalva. After all, Bhishma values dharma above all, and marrying Vichitravir to a princess who is already in love with someone else, is not Dharmic. Lots of logic is thrown aside in the name of Dharma when ShalvaRaj rejects a hopeful Amba who just wanted to get back to her lover. Amba looked like the classic submissive female lead in the beginning but we realise she is an independent, strong woman who will not be treated like an object by Shalva Naresh.
Another pratigya is made, one that is as bhishma as the first one. Amba vows to never forgive Bhishma for rejecting her after she was left by ShalvaRaj and to take revenge, no matter how many births she has to take for that. No matter how many births she has to take. Yes, this show also has very obvious foreshadowing and we will revisit this story when Amba takes her revenge. Just like the previous pratigya, this one is also followed by the death of a king. Vichitravir dies of unknown cause. While the character was not developed enough for us to be able to grieve his death, it does lead an interesting point in the story.
Shantanu is dead, both of his sons are dead. His only surviving son has taken a vow of celibacy. Satyavati is at the crossroads of life and she cannot decide which one will lead to salvation. Bhishma stands on a double edged sword. On one hand is his vow of celibacy, and on the other his promise to always protect the kingdom of Hastinapur and at that very point in time,Hastinapur is under attack by an enemy that is neither human nor demon. It is under attack by Bhishma’s own pratigya, it forbids him from having children that can sit on the throne. Satyavati orders Bhishma to marry Ambika and Ambalika and have children, so that the throne may have a king. What is Bhishma supposed to do now? Break the vow or break the promise? By virtue of character, he can do neither and yet we know he will have to choose one path. The whole episode with its bad dialogue and special effects, redeemed itself in the last five minutes. We are left on a cliffhanger by Bhishma, who accepts his mothers orders but mentions that he is bound by his pratigya. Things will progress quickly from now on, since the foundation of the saga is now set.
Some notable points:
The dialogue in this episode is again pretty corny, like some previous episodes. The writing quality varies greatly throught the run of the show.
While Bhishma was there to bring the princesses home, he was still polite enough to ask the king of Kashi to allow the princesses to leave. Always polite Bhishma, always polite.
Other notable dialogue:
Satya kabhi vivash nahi karta maate.
Karta hai putra, bahot vivash karta hai.
Mai koi rajya nahi hoon, jo ladai me jeeti ya haari ja saku, ya daan me di jaa saku.
Ye sabha Keval Atithiyo ke liye hai
Jaanta hoon, isliye mai aapke iss sabhagrih me aapke in atithiyo ki zabaan kat kar aapka apmaan nahi karna chaahta.
Rajkumariyo ka swayamvar racha kar aapne Hastinapur ka jo apmaan kiya hai, mai aapko uske liye kshama karta hoon.
Ghayal Naagin, Ghayal Sherni, aur Apmaanit stree se darna sikho Gangaputra Bhishma.