|Written by||Pandit Narendra Sharma,|
Rahi Masoom Reza
|Directed by||Ravi Chopra|
|Narrated by||Harish Bhimani|
|Country of origin||India|
|No. of episodes||94|
|Producer(s)||B. R. Chopra|
|Running time||60 minutes (approx)|
|Original network||DD National|
|Original release||2 October 1988 –|
24 June 1990
|Related shows||Mahabharat Katha|
Mahabharat is an Indian television series based on the Hindu epic of the same name. The 94-episode Hindi series originally ran from 2 October 1988 to 15 July 1990 on DD National. It was produced by B. R. Chopra and directed by his son Ravi Chopra. The music was composed by Raj Kamal. The script was written by the Urdu poet Rahi Masoom Raza, based on the original story by Vyasa. Costumes for the series were provided by Maganlal Dresswala.
Each episode ran for approximately 60 minutes and began with a title song that consisted of lyrical content and two verses from the Bhagavad Gita. The title song was sung and the verses rendered by singer Mahendra Kapoor. The title song was followed by a narration by Indian voice artist Harish Bhimani of a personification of Time, detailing the current circumstances and highlighting the spiritual significance of the content of the episode. It is the most successful Mahabharata series ever produced in the television.
Mahabharat Katha Part II - Story of Barbarik and Veer Babhruvahan was a spin-off series which contained portions and stories left out in Mahabharat.
- Nitish Bhardwaj as Dwarkadheesh Bhagwan Shri Krishna, Incarnation of Lord Vishnu/ Devaki-Vasudev's younger son/ Foster son of Nand and Yashoda, Radha's Consort, Balaram and Subhadra's brother/ Pandavas' cousin, husband of Rukmini and others
- Kewal Shah as Adolescent Krishna
- Gajendra Chouhan as Chakravarti Samrat Dharamraj Yudhishthir, 1st Pandav/ son of Kunti and Yama / Eldest son of Kuru Clan/ King of Indraprastha and later Hastinapura/ husband of Draupadi
- Praveen Kumar as Kuntiputra Bhim, 2nd Pandav/ son of Kunti and Vayu/ Second eldest son of Kuru clan/ Yuvraaj(crown Prince) of Indraprastha/husband of Draupadi and Hidimbi/ father of Ghatotkacha
- Arjun (Firoz Khan) as Kuntiputra Arjuna, 3rd Pandava/ son of Kunti and Indra/ husband of Draupadi, Uloopi, Chitrangada and Subhadra/ brother-in-law of Balaram-Krishna/ father of Abhimanyu
- Sameer Chitre as Nakul, 4th Pandav, son of Madri and Ashwini Kumara/ husband of Draupadi
- Sanjeev Chitre as Sahadeva, 5th Pandav, son of Madri and Ashwini Kumara/ husband of Draupadi
- Roopa Ganguly as Samragni Yagyaseni Draupadi, Wife of all Pandav/Also called as Panchali/ Yagyaseni/ Younger daughter of Drupad/ Princess of Panchala/Sister of Dhrishtadhyumna and Shikhandi
- Aloka Mukherjee as Subhadra, Arjuna's 2nd wife/ Abhimanyu's mother/ Vasudev's daughter hence Krishna-Balaram's sister and Yadava princess
- Mukesh Khanna as Gangaputra Devavrata Bhishma, Shantanu-Ganga's eighth son/ eighth Vasu/ Satyavati's step-son
- Krish Mallik as Adolescent Bhishma
- Girija Shankar as Maharaj Dhritrashtra, Vichitravirya's son from Ambika(eldest)/ later king of Hastinapur/ father of Kauravas
- Renuka Israni as Maharani Gandhari, wife of Dhritrashtra/ Queen of Hastinapur/ mother of Kauravas/ princess of Gandhara
- Tarakesh Chauhan as Maharaj Pandu, Vichitravirya's son from Ambalika(youngest)/ King of Hastinapur/ father of Pandavas
- Nazneen as Maharani Kunti, Pandu's first wife/ mother of Karna, Yudhisthira, Bhim and Arjun/ Daughter of Shoorsen hence Vasudev's sister and Yadava princess/ Foster daughter of Kuntibhoj
- Roma Manik as Rani Madri, Pandu's second wife/ Madra princess/ mother of Nakul and Sahadev
- Virendra Razdan as Mahamantri Dasi Putra Vidur, the Mahaa Mantri of Hastinapur / son of Ambika's head maid, Parishrami/ half-brother to the kings Dhritarashtra and Pandu of Hastinapura and also the uncle of Pandavas and Kauravas
- Surendra Pal as Dronacharya, Guru of Kauravas and Pandavas
- Pradeep Rawat as Ashwatthama, son of Dronacharya
- Puneet Issar as Duryodhan, Eldest son of Gandhari and Dhitarashtra/ Elder brother of 99 Kauras/ Husband of Bhanumati
- Vinod Kapoor as Dushasan, Second son of Gandhari and Dhitarashtra/ Duyodhan's younger brother
- Pankaj Dheer as Angaraj Karna, son of Kunti and Surya/ Adhiratha-Radha's foster son/ King of Anga Desh
- Harendra Paintal as Young Karna
- Gufi Paintal as Shakuni, Gandhari's brother/ later King of Gandhara
- Sagar Salunke as Balram, Vasudev's elder son
- Chetan Hansraj as Adolescent Balram
- Raj Babbar as Chakravarti Samrat Bharat, ancestor of Kauravas and Pandavas/ son of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala
- Ashalata as Rajmata Shakuntala, Bharata's mother / King Dushyanta's wife
- Rishabh Shukla as Maharaj Shantanu, descendant of Bharata
- Kiran Juneja as Mata Ganga, Shantanu's first wife/ Bhisma's mother/ the holy river of Hindus.
- Paramjeet Chima as Dashraj, Satyavati's Father
- Debashree Roy as Rajmata Satyavati, Shantanu's second wife/ Vichitravirya and Chitrangada's mother/ Bhisma's step-mother
- Rajesh Vivek as Maharishi Ved Vyas
- Sudesh Berry as Maharaj Vichitravirya, Shantanu-Satyavati's second son after Chitrangada, Bhisma's step brother
- Jahnavi as Amba, 1st princess of Kashi
- Meena Chakrabarty as Maharani Ambika, 2nd princess of Kashi/ Vichitravirya's first queen
- Menaka Babbar as Ambalika, 3rd princess of Kashi/ Vichitravirya's second queen
- Dharmesh Tiwari as Kripacharya, Kulguru, Family Teacher
- Kamlesh Maan as Devi Sulabha, Vidur's wife
- Lalit Tiwari as Sanjaya, Dhritarashtra's advisor and also his charioteer
- Dinesh Anand as Vikarna, Son of Gandhari and Dhitarashtra/ Duyodhan's younger brother
- Om Katare as Adhiratha, Charioteer/Karna's foster father
- Saroj Sharma as Radha, Adhiratha's wife/ Karna's foster mother
- Kapil Kumar as Shalya
- Razak Khan as Ghatotkach
- Mayur Verma (Master Mayur) as Abhimanyu
- Varsha Usgaonkar as Uttara, Abhimanyu's wife/ Matsya_Kingdom princess
- Ayub Khan as Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu and Uttara/ Grandson of Arjuna-Subhadra
- Ramlal Gupta as Ugrasen, King of Mathura
- Goga Kapoor as Kans, son of Ugrasen
- Vishnu Sharma as Vasudev, Son of Shoorsen, prince of Vrishni tribe
- Kshama Raj as Rohini, Vasudev's elder wife
- Sheela Sharma as Devaki, Vasudev's younger wife
- Rasik Dave as Nand Raj, Chief of Gokul/ Foster father of Krishna
- Manju Vyas as Yashoda, Nand's wife/ Foster mother of Krishna
- Channa Rupare as Maharani Rukmini, Krishna's chief wife
- Parijat as Mata Radha, Krishna's consort
- Ajay Sinha as Akroor, Vrishni Chief
- Bashir Khan as Satyaki, General
- Ashok Banthia as Senapati Kritvarma
- Pradeep Sharma as Drupada
- Arun Bakshi as Dhrishtadyumna
- Paintal as Shikhandi/ Sudama
- Ashok Sharma as Virata, King of Matsya_Kingdom
- Chandni Sharma as Sudeshna, Queen of Matsya_Kingdom
- Sameer Rajda as Uttar, crown prince of Matsya_Kingdom
- Sharat Saxena as Kichak, Army General of Matsya_Kingdom
- Deep Dhillon as Jayadratha, Dussala's husband, Kaurava's brother-in-law
- Vikrant Mathur as Subala, Shakuni's and Gandhari's Father, King of Gandhara
- Shivendra Mahal as Parshuram / Lord Shiva
- Satish Kaul as Indra
- Gopi Krishna as Chitrasena
- Rakesh Bidua as Kashya, King Of Kashi
- Rana Jung Bahadur as Jarasandh, King of Magadha, Father-in-law of Kans
- Karunakar Pathak as Shishupala, King of Chedi, Cousin of Krishna and Balaram
- Pawan Shukla as Shalv Kumar, Prince of Salwa Kingdom
- Prem Sagar as Rishi Kanva
- Pankaj Berry as Rishi Kindama, sage who cursed Pandu
- Vikas Prasad as Ekalavya
- Randhir Singh as Hidimba / Bhootana (Putana)
- Sabrina as Bhootana, (Putana)
- Sumeet Raghavan as Young Sudama
- Dara Singh as Hanuman (cameo)
- Harish Bhimani as Samay/ Narrator
Episode 1 - Introduction of Kuru Family, Raja Bharat and Raja Shantanu
Episode 2 - Ganga Kills Her Sons
Episode 3 - Bhishma Is Grown-up
Episode 4 - Bhisma Pratigya/Iccha Mrityu Vardaan
Episode 5 - Amba, Ambika and Ambalika's Introduction
Episode 6 - Birth of Pandu, Dhritarashtra and Vidur
Episode 7 - Karna's Birth-story, Dhritarashtra and Gandhari Get Married and Pandu and Kunti Get Married
Episode 8 - Madri is gifted to Pandu, Pandu is resting and Sage Kindama's curse on Pandu
Episode 9 - Dhritarashtra is king his sanyas and Kansa is king and Akashwani about Krishna
Episode 10 - Birth of Balarama and Five Pandavas
Episode 11 - Krishna Janma
Episode 12 - Pootna's Death
Episode 13 - Krishna brahmand darshan and Krishna gets caught while stealing makhan
Episode 14 - Maiya Mori Mai nahi makhan khayo and Kaliya Nag Tandav
Episode 15 - Radha and Gopikas, protest against Mathura, Devakasur and Trulambasur Vadh
Episode 16 - Kansa invites Krishna to Mathura
Episode 17 - Kansa Vadh
Episode 18 - Pandu's Death
Episode 19 - Satyavati, Ambika, Ambalika take sanyas with Rishi Vyas
Episode 20 - Duryodhan Poisons Bhim and Bhim Gets Strength of 1000 Elephants
Episode 21 - Sudama's chivda and Drona arrives to Hastinapur
Episode 22 - Shastra Pooja, Drona insults Karna and Arjun's Test
Episode 23 - Ekalavya, Karna's Education, Arjun's Test of Bird's Eye
Episode 24 - All grown up, prince is to be nominated and everyone exhibit their skills in Rangbhoomi, Karna challenges Arjun and Duryodhan gives Anga desh to Karna
Episode 25 - Drona's guru dakshina to capture Dhrupad
Episode 26 - Krishna gets Sudarshan chakra from Parshuram, defeats Jarasandh and orders building Dwarika
Episode 27 - Yudhishthir Is Crowned as Prince. Rukmini Is Being Forced to Marry Shishupal
Episode 28 - Krishna Rescues Rukmini
Episode 29 - Lakshagriha Is Built in Varnavata by Purochan
Episode 30 - Tunneling in Varnavat Begins
Episode 31 - Escape from Lakshagriha
Episode 32 - Hidimb Vadh and Bhima's marriage
Episode 33 - Bakasur Vadh
Episode 34 - Dristadyumna & Draupadi Birth and Draupadi Swayamvar
Episode 35 - Arjun Wins Draupadi and Later She Became the Wives of 5 Pandavas
Episode 36 - Pandavas Leave from Panchal to Hastinapur
Episode 37 - Pandavas Arrives at Hastinapur and Kingdom Is Divided
Episode 38 - Pandav Get Khandavprastha
Episode 39 - Coronation of Yudhirsthir, Khandavprastha Becomes Indraprastha
Episode 40 - Arjun runs away with Subhadra
Episode 41 - Arjun Weds Subhadra. Arjun Gets Devdatta Conch and Gandiva and Bhima Gets His Gada
Episode 42 - Jarasandh Vadh, Rajsuya Yagnya begins, Shishupal's Story
Episode 43 - Rajsuya Yagya, Shishupal Vadh
Episode 44 - Vyas Predicts War, Draupadi Laughs at Duryodhan
Episode 45 - Pandavas Go to Hastinapur to Gamble
Episode 46 - Yudhishthir Loses Everything
Episode 47 - Vastraharan of Draupadi
Episode 48 - Pandavas Get Back Everything
Episode 49 - Re-match of Dyut
Episode 50 - Vanvas Begins
Episode 51 - Gandharvas Catch Duryodhan
Episode 52 - Arjun Worships Lord Indra and Lord Shiva for Divyastra and Gets Pashupatastra
Episode 53 - Krishna's story of one grain of rice, Bhim meets Ghatotkach and Hanuman, Arjun learns dance from Chitrasen
Episode 54 - Arjun gets curse of impotency from Urvashi, Abhimanyus as a kid, Jayadraths head is shaved
Episode 55 - Story of Poisoned Water and Yaksha, Abhimanyu Is Grown-up
Episode 56 - Agyatvas in Matsya Desh
Episode 57 - Karna's curse, Draupadi as Maid Sairandhri rejects Keechak
Episode 58 - Keechak Vadh by Bheema
Episode 59 - Kaurav Attack Matsya Desh
Episode 60 - Viraat yudh and clothes for Uttara's dolls
Episode 61 - Abhimanyu's Marriage and Pandavs Decide to Send a Doot to Hastinapur
Episode 62 - Dhritarashtra Does Not Agree and Sends Sanjay
Episode 63 - Duryodhan gets Narayani Sena from Krishna
Episode 64 - Krishna Goes to Hastinapur as Shanti Doot
Episode 65 - Krishna tooks Virat Avtar and Indra takes Karna's kawach kundala
Episode 66 - Karna's Identity Is Disclosed
Episode 67 - Vidur resigns as a prime minister, Kunti meets Karna
Episode 68 - Sanjay gets divya drishti, Ulluk goes to Pandavas
Episode 69 - Duryodhan tricks Shalya to join Kauravas
Episode 70 - Shikhandi's Story
Episode 71 - Arjun Worships Goddess Durga, Rules of War Laid
Episode 72 - Kurukshetra War Begins and Arjun Drops His Weapons, Geeta Saar Begins
Episode 73 - Geeta Saar Continues
Episode 74 - Geeta Saar Continues and Krishna Shows His Maha-Avtaar
Episode 75 - Yudhishthir Gets Blessings, Yuyutsu Changes Side and War Begins, Abhimanyu Faces Bhishma
Episode 76 - Uttar dies, Arjun faces Bhishma and day 2 begins
Episode 77 - Arjun is unstoppable, 3rd day is over, 4th day begins, Bhim is surrounded, 10 Kauravs are killed, Krishna takes out his Sudarshan
Episode 78 - 9th Day Is Over and 16 Kauravs Are Dead, Bhishma Tells Arjun How to Take Him Out of the War
Episode 79 - Bhishma lies on the Bed of Arrows, Karna meets Bhishma
Episode 80 - Day 11, Drona tries to capture Yudhishthir but is unsuccessful, Shantanu comes to Bhishma
Episode 81 - Chakra Vyuh Planned, Duryodhan Promises Susharma
Episode 82 - Abhimanyu Vadh
Episode 83 - Arjun Vows to Kill Jayadrath and Story About Jayadrath's Curse
Episode 84 - Arjun Breaks Kamal Vyuh to Get to Jayadrath
Episode 85 - Jayadrath Vadh
Episode 86 - Ghatotkach dies
Episode 87 - Drona Dies
Episode 88 - Dushasana dies and Karna fights with Arjun, Krishna puts the rath in the land so that Arjun is saved
Episode 89 - Karna's curse, Karna Dies
Episode 90 - Shakuni Dies, Yudhishthir Curses All Woman Kind and Duryodhan Becomes Iron Bodied
Episode 91 - Balaram arrives, Bhim-Duryodhan Gada Yudh
Episode 92 - Duryodhan Dies, Ashwathama, Kripa and Kritvarma Remain, Parikshit's Story
Episode 93 - Dhritarashtra Tries to Kill Bhim
Episode 94 - Yudhisthir Becomes King of Hastinapur, Bhishma Dies
Episode 95 - Mahavir Barbrik
According to production team member Kishore Malhotra, the total cost of producing the series was ₹9 crore (US$1.3 million). Nitish Bharadwaj was chosen by B R Chopra, Ravi Chopra, (screenplay writer) Pandit Narendra Sharma and (dialogue writer) Rahi Masoom Raza, to play the central role of Krishna, at the age of 23. Firoz Khan was chosen to portray the character of Arjuna (which he later adopted as his screen name, not to become confused with a more popular actor of the same name) despite being rejected in auditions. Praveen Kumar was selected to portray Bhima after Chopra was looking for someone "who could look the robust mythological character". Around six actors were shortlisted for the role of Draupadi, including Juhi Chawla, who opted out of the show as she had bagged a film. Ramya Krishnan and Roopa Ganguly were the final names, and at last Roopa Ganguly was chosen, as her Hindi was good. Govinda (actor) and Chunky Pandey were signed for the role of Abhimanyu, but they opted out when they bagged films. Later, Master Mayur played the role. Raj Babbar and Debashree Roy were the only two star actors of that time, who agreed to be parts of this venture.
It was shown in the United Kingdom by the BBC, where it achieved audience figures of 5 million. It was also the first programme broadcast on BBC2 after its 1991 revamp, but had also been shown late at night on BBC 1 the previous year. It has also been shown on FBC TV in Fiji and Star Utsav. It also aired on Epic in Hong Kong and TVB Jade. Dubbed versions were aired in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and also in Indonesia in the early 1990s on TPI (now MNCTV) and in the early 2000s on ANteve (now antv).
Lavanya Mohan of The Hindu on her article "Retelling of Mahabharata on Television over the years" wrote "The version that left the maximum impact on me is BR Chopra’s. Yes, the sets were gaudy, the effects comical, and the acting got a little too dramatic at times, but the writing and the way the episodes were paced ensured that the series was ahead of its time." It is commonly known to be associated with this serial along with "Ramayana" serial, where it is said that streets in cities remained isolated and people left their work to watch this series.
Mahabharat along with Ramayana (1987) became one of the successful mythological television series in Indian television. Many actors went on to become popular through the series. Mukesh Khanna shot to fame as Bhishma and went on to name his production company after the character's name and Roopa Ganguly went on to become a successful actress in Bengali cinema.
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