Xudong Chen, 3325439 Reading Journal 1

Mahabharat in India

By reading An India religious soap opera and the Hindu image, one aspect of the role of television could be drawn from it, which is the significance that television plays in shaping the contemporary life, both cultural and political. As a soap opera, Mahabharat enjoyed the greatest success in India, which is unlikely to be exceeded by others.

In the early 1950s, television staged in India; later, the Asian games in 1982 further spurred this new thing, and more serialized programmes were introduced in it. (Mitra, 1994)Among all the serial programmes, Mahabharat remained the most successful one.

The success of Mahabharat could be attributed to many factors. Mahabharat is based on a religious-historical mythological epic and due to the character of television, the myth was added with something new to tell. The first thing about the success of Mhahbharat is that by serialization of the myth, every week the old story would come back to life on the television, with the characters relive the scene. Mahbharat used new faces, which making the programme successful and at the same time, earned reputation for themselves as well. The credits on the programmes used Hindi, English and Urdu, which covers large proportion of the audience. Besides, the repetition of the content of the story continues to remind the audience that this is a programme concerning religion and the conflict between good and evil forces on earth. Mahbharat was set in and around the ancient of Hastinapur, which is the birth place to many religious characters and in a large sense represents northern part of India. (Kalman, 1999) Consume appropriated, the language of the broadcast and music and sound it manipulated together transformed the story into a northern India one. The specific features of Mahbharat indicate a preferred social practices and acknowledgement in India by manipulating the settings, language, consume and music and other factors.

It could be drawn from the programme that the Indian society is much centred on Hinduism, which resulted in many other consequences. The first one is marginalization of other religious practices. This has activated actions from other religions in India, and these actions have evolved into a political one. The success of Mahbharat further spurs the growth of Hindu fundamentalism, which causes some disturbances to the society. By connecting the images of the character in the programmes and the practices they used, India is able to form the image that being Hindu and Hinduism is a much preferred option and stands at the front end of the 21th century.

Thus, the position of Hinduism has been much strengthened with the help of the popular culture.

However, it is not to be neglected that as the openness of television widens, local India television enterprise faces much fierce competition from foreign network, such as BBC and CNN.    

In conclusion, the Mahbharat enjoyed big success in the domain of Indian television, and its popularity played and is still playing an influential role in the cultural and social areas in Indian. Due to the changes in the Indian television enterprise, more competition is raised and non-Hindu or Hindu-centric programmes are emerging.


Kalman, B. (1999), India: The Culture, Crabtree Publishing Company

Mitra,A. (1994), An Indian religious soap opera and the Hindu Image, Media culture society


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