Mahabharat (1988 TV series)

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Created by B.R. Chopra and Ravi Chopra
Based on Mahabharata by Vyasa
Written by Pandit Narendra Sharma
Rahi Masoom Raza
Screenplay by Rahi Masoom Raza
Directed byB. R. Chopra
Ravi Chopra
Creative directorYashwant Mahilwar
Starring Nitish Bharadwaj
Firoz Khan
Puneet Issar
Pankaj Dheer
Gufi Paintal
Roopa Ganguly
Praveen Kumar
Virendra Razdan
Surendra Pal
Mukesh Khanna
Gajendra Chauhan
Narrated by Harish Bhimani
Composer Raj Kamal
Country of originIndia
Original languageHindi
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes94
Executive producerD.H. Vengurlekar
ProducerB. R. Chopra
CinematographyDharam Chopra
EditorsShailendra Doke
Birpal Singh
Running time40-45 minutes
Production companyB.R. Films
Original network DD National
Picture format 576i
Original release2 October 1988 (1988-10-02) 
15 July 1990 (1990-07-15)
Followed by Mahabharat Katha

Mahabharat is an Indian Hindi-language epic television series based on the ancient Sanskrit epic of the same name. The original airing consisted of a total of ninety-four episodes [1] and were broadcast from 2 October 1988 to 24 June 1990 on Doordarshan. [2] [3] It was produced by B. R. Chopra and directed by his son, Ravi Chopra. [4] The music was composed by Raj Kamal. The script was written by Pandit Narendra Sharma and the Hindi/Urdu poet Rahi Masoom Raza, based on the original story by Vyasa. Costumes for the series were provided by Maganlal Dresswala. [5] . The serial claims to have used the Critical Edition of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute as its basic source with Vishnu Sitaram Sukthankar and Shripad Krishna Belwalkar as its primary editor.


Each episode is 40–46 minutes long and begins with a title song that consisted of lyrical content and two verses from the Bhagavad Gita. [6] The title song was sung and the verses rendered by singer Mahendra Kapoor. The title song is followed by a narration by Indian voice-artist Harish Bhimani as 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 for television. [7]

Mahabharat Katha , another part of the serial was aired on 1997 which covers all the untold stories about Karna's marriage with Padmavati, Arjuna's marriage with Chitrāngadā and Ulupi, and stories about Ghatotkacha, Barbarika, Virshaketu, Babruvahana, Conspiracies of Viprachitti, Ashwamedha Yajna and aftermath of the War, which are not covered in the original series.


The series covers the incidents of epic Mahabharata revolving around Lord Krishna, Pandavas, Kauravas, Draupadi, Karna etc.

The show begins with Emperor Bharata giving more importance to 'Capacity' over 'Birth'. The latter shows the birth of Bheeshma and his oath, birth of Pandu, Dhritarashtra and Vidur and birth of Pandavas and Kauravas. The story then focuses on the childhood of Lord Krishna.

Elsewhere, Dronacharya teaches Pandavas and Kauravas and asks to defeat Drupad as Guru Dakshina. Pandavas do so and give half of his kingdom to Drona. For revenge, Drupad obtains Dhrishthadhyumna and Draupadi. Dhritarashtra makes Yudhishthir the crown prince of Hastinapur. Shakuni (the maternal uncle of the Kauravas) and Duryodhan hatch a plan to burn Pandavas and Kunti alive, but they survive and go into incognito. Duryodhan is made crown prince of Hastinapur.

Arjuna wins Draupadi in her swayamvara but later shows her marriage with all five Pandavas. Later, Yudhishthir is made the king of Indraprastha and Pandavas conduct Rajsuya Yagna where Draupadi insults Duryodhana. Latter shows Duryodhana's revenge by trying to disrobe her and sending Pandavas along with Draupadi for an exile of 12 years and 1 year of anonymity. Duryodhana argues that the Pandavas violated the condition of anonymity in their last year of exile, therefore they must spend another 12 years in exile followed by another year of exile in anonymity. This conflict begins to sows the seed for the Mahabharata War.

Arjun and Subhadra's son Abhimanyu marries Uttara. Krishna tries to make peace between both parties. Indra in the disguise of a Brahmin took Karna's armor and earrings. Kunti's sorrow on the corpse of Karna reveals Karna's true identity of being the eldest Pandava.

Before Mahabharata War, Shri Krishna enlightens Arjuna about the "Bhagavad Gita" and showed his Virata Swaroopa to Arjuna. The latter shows the deaths of Bheeshma, Drona, Karna, Abhimanyu, Shalya, Shakuni, Jayadrata, Ghatotkacha, 100 Kauravas, 5 sons of Draupadi and many other warriors in the war leading to the victory of Pandavas over Kauravas. Gandhari holds Krishna responsible for her son's death and curses that his family will also get destroyed. The show ends with Yudhishthir's Rajyabhishek and Bhishma's death.




Episodic appearance


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 – Bhishma 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-Gandhari and Pandu-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, Pandu's sanyas and Pandavas are born.

Episode 10 – Kansa is king and Akashwani about Krishna

Episode 11 – Birth of Balarama and Krishna

Episode 12 – Krishna Janma (birth of Krishna) celebrations and 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 and Ambalika take sanyas with Rishi Vyas

Episode 20 – Duryodhan Poisons Bhim and Bhim gets strength of 1000 Elephants

Episode 21 – Sudama's chivda story, and Drona arrives at Hastinapur

Episode 22 – Shastra Pooja, Drona insults Karna and Arjuna's test

Episode 23 – Ekalavya, Karna's education, Arjun's test of bird's eye

Episode 24 – All the Princes have grown up, and they exhibit their skills in Rangbhoomi, Karna challenges Arjuna and Duryodhana gives Anga Desh to Karna

Episode 25 – Drona's guru Dakshina to capture Dhrupad

Episode 26 – Krishna gets Sudarshana chakra from Parshuram, defeats Jarasandh and orders building Dwaraka

Episode 27 – Yudhishthira is crowned as Prince. Rukmini is Being Forced to Marry Shishupal

Episode 28 – Krishna Rescues Rukmini

Episode 29 – Lakshagraha is built-in Varnavata by Purochan

Episode 30 – Tunneling in Varnavat Begins

Episode 31 – Escape from Lakshagraha

Episode 32 – Hidimb Vadh and Bhima's marriage with demoness Hidimba

Episode 33 – Bheema kills Bakasura

Episode 34 – Dristadhyumna & Draupadi Birth and Draupadi Swayamvar

Episode 35 – Arjuna wins Draupadi and later she became the wife of the 5 Pandavas

Episode 36 – Pandavas Leave from Panchal Kingdom 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 – Arjuna runs away with Subhadra

Episode 41 – Arjuna weds Subhadra. Arjun gets Devdatta Conch and Gandiva and Bhima gets his Gada

Episode 42 – Jarasandha Vadh, Rajsuya Yagnya begins, Shishupala's story

Episode 43 – Rajsuya Yagya, Shishupala Vadh

Episode 44 – Vyas predicts war, Draupadi laughs at Duryodhan

Episode 45 – Pandavas go to Hastinapur to gamble

Episode 46 – Yudhishthir loses Everything in the gamble

Episode 47 – Vastraharan of Draupadi

Episode 48 – Pandavas bet back everything

Episode 49 – Re-match of Dyut

Episode 50 – Vanvas Begins

Episode 51 – Gandharvas catch Duryodhan

Episode 52 – Arjuna worships Lord Indra and Lord Shiva for Divyastra and gets Pashupatastra

Episode 53 – Krishna's story of one grain of rice, Bheema meets Ghatotkacha and Hanuman, Arjun learns dance from Chitrasena

Episode 54 – Arjuna gets curse of impotency from Urvashi, Abhimanyu as a kid, Jayadrath's head is shaved

Episode 55 – Story of Poisoned Water and Yaksha's Questions to Yudhishthira, Abhimanyu is Grown-up

Episode 56 – Exile in Matsya Desh

Episode 57 – Karna's curse, Draupadi as Maid Sairandhri rejects Keechaka

Episode 58 – Keechaka Vadh by Bheema

Episode 59 – Kaurav Attack Matsya Desh

Episode 60 – Viraat war 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 – Duryodhana gets Narayani Sena from Krishna, Krishna agrees to become charioteer of Arjuna

Episode 64 – Krishna Goes to Hastinapur as Shanti Doot

Episode 65 – Krishna took Virat Avtar and Indra takes Karna's Kawach and Kundala

Episode 66 – Karna's identity is disclosed

Episode 67 – Vidura resigns as prime minister, Kunti meets Karna

Episode 68 – Sanjaya gets Divya Drishti, Ulluk goes to Pandavas

Episode 69 – Duryodhana tricks Shalya to join Kauravas

Episode 70 – Shikhandi's Story

Episode 71 – Arjuna 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 – Yudhishthira gets blessings, Yuyutsu changes side and war begins, Abhimanyu faces Bhishma

Episode 76 – Uttar dies, Arjuna faces Bhishma and day 2 begins

Episode 77 – Arjuna is unstoppable, 3rd day is over, 4th day begins, Bhima is surrounded, 10 Kauravas are killed, Krishna takes out his Sudarshan

Episode 78 – 9th Day is over and 16 Kauravs are dead, Bhishma tells Arjuna 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 – Arjuna Vows to Kill Jayadrath and Story About Jayadratha's Curse

Episode 84 – Arjuna Breaks Kamal Vyuh to Get to Jayadratha

Episode 85 – Shri Krishna covers the Sun with his Sudarshana Chakra , Jayadratha Vadh

Episode 86 – Karna kills Ghatotkacha by Shakti Astra

Episode 87 – Virat and Drupad are killed, 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-Arjuna final battle, Arjuna defeats Karna to death.

Episode 90 – Shakuni Dies, Shalya dies, Duryodhan learns about Karna's truth, Yudhishthir curses All womankind, Gandhari curses Krishna & Yaduvansh, Duryodhan becomes iron bodied

Episode 91 – Balaram arrives, Bhim-Duryodhan Gada Yudh, Duryodhan fatally wounded, Balaram decides to kill Bhim

Episode 92 – Duryodhan Dies, Ashwatthama, Kripa and Kritvarma remain, Ashwathamas kill the sons of Pandavas (Uppandavas) and Drishtadyumna, Ashwathama tries to kill Uttara's unborn son, Krishna curses Ashwatthama, Parikshit is Born

Episode 93 – Dhritarashtra-Vidur discussion about dharma, Pandavas arrive at Hastinapur, Dhritarashtra Tries to kill Bhim

Episode 94 – Dhritarashtra and Gandhari ready for Vanaprastha. Yudhisthir Becomes King of Hastinapur, Bhishma leaves his body.



According to production team member Kishore Malhotra, the total cost of producing the series was 9 crore (US$1.3 million). [8] Casting for the series began in 1986 and shooting started off in mid-1988. [9] Show was shot mostly at Mumbai's Film City, and the grand battle of Kurukshetra was shot in Rajasthan, with thousands of extras to fill the screen. [4]

The series was initially submitted to the channel for 104 episodes which was later shortened to 94 episodes. [7]


15,000 people applied to play different roles in the Mahabharat TV series. The casting team led by Gufi Paintal shortlisted them and called around 1,500 for video screen tests [10] Almost all actors in the series were newcomers, barring Raj Babbar who played King Bharat and Debashree Roy who played Satyavati. [11] Nitish Bharadwaj was chosen by B.R. Chopra, Ravi Chopra, Pandit Narendra Sharma and Rahi Masoom Raza, to play the central role of Krishna, at the age of 23. [12] [13] Initially, he was chosen for playing Vidur. But Virendra Razdan was cast for it as B.R. Chopra considered Bharadwaj young to play the role. [14] Then Bharadwaj was offered to play Nakul and Sahadev, but he rejected and wanted to play Abhimanyu. Days later, he was called and finalized to play Krishna. [14] Firoz Khan was chosen to portray the character of Arjuna (which he later adopted as his screen name, to not become confused with a more popular actor of the same name) despite being rejected in auditions. [15] Asian games gold medalist Praveen Kumar was selected to portray Bhima after Chopra was looking for someone "who could look the robust historical character". [16] 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. [17] Govinda and Chunky Pandey were signed for the role of Abhimanyu, but they opted out when they bagged films. Later, Master Mayur played the role. [18] Mukesh Khanna who wished to play Arjun was initially offered the role of Duryodhan. But he was signed for Dhronacharya. [19] When Vijayendra Ghadge dropped his role of Bhisma, Khanna got the role of Bhishma. [20] Puneet Issar was offered to play the role of Bheem but was cast as Duryodhan on his wish. [9] The casting director of the show, Gufi Paintal had cast himself in the role of Shakuni. [21]


Mahabharat's music was composed by Raj Kamal and lyrics were penned by Pandit Narendra Sharma. Some songs were taken from works of devotional writers like Surdas, Raskhan etc. Apart from main songs there are also several short verses decoding summary of each episode. All those verse were sung by Mahendra Kapoor. [22] [23] All music is composed by Raj Kamal.

1."Ath Shree Mahabharat Katha (Opening Theme)" Mahendra Kapoor 04:12
2."Bharat Ki Yeh Kahaani (Ending Theme)" Mahendra Kapoor 05:21
3."Beet Gaye Din Par Din Beet Gaye" Raj Kamal 05:23
4."Govind Gokul Aayo" Raj Kamal 04:49
5."Jagiye Brijraj Kunwar" Anuradha Paudwal 04:10
6."Main Naahin Maakhan Khaayo" Nitin Mukesh 05:20
7."Maiya Mohi Dau Bahut Khijayo" Nitin Mukesh 04:00
8."Shyam ne Murli Madhur" Suresh Wadkar 05:42
9."Mor Pakha Seer Upar Rakhiyo" Kavita Krishnamurthy 04:16
10."Mohan Ke Mukh Par Bansari" Raj Kamal and Kavita Krishnamurthy 07:01
11."Binati Suniye Nath Hamari" Sadhana Sargam 04:51
12."Kripa Krishna Ki" Raj Kamal 07:01
13."Main Boondan Bheeji Saari" Sadhana Sargam 04:30
14."Pranay ke Pratham Prahar Ki Baat" Anuradha Paudwal 05:20
15."Samay Bada Balwaan" Raj Kamal 05:17
16."Jhanak Jhanak Baaje Payaliya" Sadhana Sargam 04:51
17."Manwa Madhur Madhur Kachu Bol" Sadhana Sargam 04:04
18."Naino Ke Darpan mein" Roopa Ganguly 03:27
19."Sabso oonchi prem sagai" Raj Kamal 05:44
20."Yeh Dharma Yudh Hain" Raj Kamal 10:30
21."Hey Priyatame" Raj Kamal 06:16


In India the series was originally broadcast on DD National. It was shown in the United Kingdom by the BBC, [24] where it achieved audience figures of 5.1 million. [25] [26] It was also the first programme broadcast on BBC2 after its 1991 revamp, [27] but it had also been shown late at night on BBC1 the previous year. [28] 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).

The show was again telecast on DD Bharati from 28 March 2020, on DD Retro from 13 April 2020, on Colors TV from 4 May 2020 as well as Star Bharat during the lockdown due to coronavirus. [29] [3] [30] The show is currently being broadcast on Big Magic from 17 May 2021 and on Bflix Movies from 22 May 2021. [31]


Ganguly was applauded for her performance in the sequence. [32] Ravi Chopra later disclosed that she was originally weeping while enacting in the Vastraharan sequence and the crew members had to console her later to make her stop. [32] [33] |The sequence is often claimed to be the most climactic one of the series. [34] For the sequence Chopra recreated the visual effect of the Vastraharan sequence of Babubhai Mistry's Mahabharat (1965) starring Padmini as Draupadi. [35] His visual effects won more favour than that of the 1965 film and has still been considered by a part of critics to be the most brilliant in line. [36] [37] of the most successful television series in Indian television history. [38] In common with the "Ramayana" serial, the broadcasting of a Mahabharat episode was associated with the simultaneous emptying of streets in the cities and people leaving work early to watch it. [39] Along with general audience many big names from Hindi film industry like Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Hema Malini and Jeetendra also praised the show. [40]

During its rerun in COVID-19 lockdown, it became the second most watched Indian TV show after Ramayan. [41] In week 13, it garnered 145.8 million impressions with both morning and evening slots combined on DD Bharati. [42] However, after Ramayan ended, Mahabharat became the most watched TV show until its end. [43] The series ended with 22.9 million viewership. [43]


WeekYear BARC viewership (Hindi GEC overall) BARC viewership (Hindi GEC pay) BARC viewership (Hindi GEC rural) BARC viewership (Hindi GEC urban)
Impressions (millions)RankingImpressions (millions)RankingImpressions (millions)RankingImpressions (millions)Ranking
Week 1320208937273622
Week 14202016750213177262285105242
Week 15202018290214264271454111462
Week 16202021196316455383585128393
Week 17202024280219077299134143682
Week 18202022287317186390745132142
Week 19202022907193194


Home media

The series was uploaded onto the website "" along with its dubbed Tamil version. [45] Home video of the Bengali-dubbed version of this series has been released by Heart Video. [46] In 2019, Pen India Ltd bought the rights of the show and uploaded all the episodes on its devotional YouTube channel Pen Bhakti including its spin-off series Mahabharat Katha. [47]


Mahabharat along with Ramayan (1987) became one of the most successful television series based on an epic in Indian television history. Many actors became popular through their appearances in this series. Nitish Bharadwaj became famous as Lord Krishna and later he also played lead role in Chopra's another mythological show Vishnu Puran. [48] Roopa Ganguly who played Draupadi; went on to become a successful actress in Bengali cinema. [49] [50] Actor Pankaj Dheer also got immense popularity after playing Karna. His pictures are used in textbooks as reference to Karna and the actor also revealed that his statues are worshipped in temples in Karnal and Batar. [51] Actor Firoz Khan changed his name to "Arjun" professionally after finding success with the role of Arjun. [52] Mukesh Khanna who was a not so famous actor until then, shot to fame as Bhishma and named his production company after his character.

See also

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Mahabharat is a 2013 Indian Hindi-language computer animated historical drama film, directed by Amaan Khan and based on the Sanatana Dharma epic of the same name. The film is produced by Kushal Kantilal Gada and Dhaval Jayantilal Gada. The film was a Christmas release on 27 December 2013. Several actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Sunny Deol, Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Vidya Balan, Manoj Bajpayee, Deepti Naval were signed up for the characters in the film. Mahabharat is touted as the most expensive animated film in Bollywood. The movie tells the story of the Indian epic Mahabharata in a way children would find entertaining. It received mixed reviews, with praise for its voice acting, but criticism for its animations. It was a box office disaster.

<i>Suryaputra Karn</i> Indian television series

Suryaputra Karna is an Indian mythological epic television series, which premiered on 29 June 2015 on Sony Entertainment Television (India) and Sony Entertainment Television Asia. The show aired Monday through Friday nights at 8:30 PM. Produced by Siddharth Kumar Tewary of Swastik Pictures, the series covers the life journey of the greatest warrior of mahabharata daanveer Karna.The show starred Gautam Rode, Vishesh Bansal and Basant Bhatt as the lead character at various stages of his life.

Mahabharat Katha is an Indian television series aired on DD National. This is a sequel which contains portions and stories left out of Mahabharat. It was produced by B. R. Chopra and directed by his son Ravi Chopra.

<i>Karn Sangini</i>

Karn Sangini was an Indian-television Mythological television series based on Kavita Kane's novel Karna's Wife: The Outcast's Queen that aired on Star Plus. Created by Shashi Sumeet Productions, it starred Tejasswi Prakash and Aashim Gulati.


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