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The Mahabharata - Peter Brook

The Mahabharata | Peter Brook

Peter Brook’s original 1985 stage play “The Mahabharata” was 9 hours long, and toured around the world for four years. In 1989, it was reduced to under 6 hours for television.
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahabharata is attributed to Vyasa. Without being directly related to them, the Mahabharata derives many of its philosophical concepts from the Vedas.
The Mahabharata tells of Prince Arjuna and his four brothers Yudhishthira, Bhima and the twins Nakula and Sahadeva, all married to the same woman, Draupadi. They are known as the Pandavas, the sons of Pandu, who was king of Hastinapur in North India and himself the son of Ambalika and Vyasa. After the death of their father, the Pandavas grow up at the court of their uncle, the blind King Dhritarashtra, who has become the new ruler.
There is always great rivalry between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, the one hundred sons of Dhritarashtra. Eventually the old king gives his nephews some land of their own but his eldest son, Duryodhana is jealous of their success. He challenges Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava, to a game of dice in which he loses everything. The Pandavas are then forced to surrender their land and go into exile for thirteen years.
On their return, the old king is unable to persuade his son Duryodhana to restore their heritage, and in spite of efforts at reconciliation by Sanjaya, Dhritarashtra’s charioteer; by Bheeshma, his wise counselor; and even by Lord Krishna himself, war cannot be averted. The rival hosts face each other on the field of Kurukshetra.
When Prince Arjuna surveys the battlefield, he is overwhelmed with sorrow at the futility of war and it is at this point that the “Bhagavad Gita,” or “Song of the Lord,” begins (click here for an extensive analysis). The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita are spoken by the divine Lord Krishna, who is acting as the prince’s charioteer. They are overheard by Sanjaya and reported back to King Dhritarashtra.
When Krishna has finished speaking to Arjuna, the two armies engage. The battle lasts eighteen days and by the end of it nearly all of the warriors on both sides are dead save Krishna and the five Pandavas.

Running Time: 5:24:56
Note: The entire text above is that of the original YouTube publisher (Space And Intelligence), only modified by the insertion of additional links.

The Mahabharata

TV series | 1 Season – 3 Episodes | Production years 1989-1990

Full Cast & Crew

Series Directed by 

Peter Brook (3 episodes)

Series Writing Credits  

Peter Brook (3 episodes)
Jean-Claude Carrière (3 episodes)
Marie-Hélène Estienne (3 episodes)
Vedavyas (uncredited) (3 episodes)

Series Cast  

Erika Alexander Erika Alexander Madri / Hidimbi (3 episodes)
Maurice Bénichou Maurice Bénichou  Kitchaka  (3 episodes)
Amba Bihler Amba Bihler  Virata’s daughter  (3 episodes)
Lou Elias Bihler Lou Elias Bihler  Young Karna  (3  episodes)
Urs Bihler Urs Bihler  Dushassana  (3 episodes)
Ryszard Cieslak Ryszard Cieslak  Dhritharashtra  (3 episodes)
Georges Corraface Georges Corraface  Duryodhana  (3 episodes)
Jean-Paul Denizon Jean-Paul Denizon  Nakula  (3 episodes)
Mamadou Dioumé Mamadou Dioumé  Bhima  (3 episodes)
Miriam Goldschmidt Miriam Goldschmidt  Kunti  (3 episodes)
Hapsari Hardjito Hapsari Hardjito  Abhimanyu’s wife  (3 episodes)
Nolan Hemmings Nolan Hemmings  Abhimanyu  (3 episodes)
Kên Higelin Kên Higelin  Deathless boy  (3 episodes)
Ciarán Hinds Ciarán Hinds  Ashwattaman  (3 episodes)
Gisèle Hogard Gisèle Hogard  1st princess  (3 episodes)
Corinne Jaber Corinne Jaber Amba / Sikhandin (3 episodes)
Lutfi Jakfar Lutfi Jakfar  Uttara  (3 episodes)
Akram Khan Akram Khan  Ekalavya  (3 episodes)
Jeffery Kissoon Jeffery Kissoon  Karna  (3 episodes)
Sotigui Kouyaté Sotigui Kouyaté  Bhisma  (3 episodes)
Joseph Kurian Joseph Kurian  Drishtadyumna  (3 episodes)
Tuncel Kurtiz Tuncel Kurtiz  Shakuni  (3 episodes)
Robert Langdon Lloyd Robert Langdon Lloyd  Vyasa  (3 episodes)
Clement Masdongar Clement Masdongar  Gazelle  (3 episodes)
Leela Mayor Leela Mayor  Satyavati  (3 episodes)
Vittorio Mezzogiorno Vittorio Mezzogiorno  Arjuna  (3 episodes)
Bruce Myers Bruce Myers  Ganesha / Krishna  (3 episodes)
Yumi Nara Yumi Nara  Virata’s wife  (3 episodes)
Tamsir Niane Tamsir Niane  Urvasi  (3 episodes)
Yoshi Oida Yoshi Oida  Drona  (3 episodes)
Hélène Patarot Hélène Patarot  Gandhari  (3 episodes)
Abbi Patrix Abbi Patrix  Salvi  (3 episodes)
Julie Romanus Julie Romanus  2nd princess  (3 episodes)
Bakary Sangaré Bakary Sangaré  The Sun / Rakshasa / Ghatotkatcha (3 episodes)
Mallika Sarabhai Mallika Sarabhai  Draupadi  (3 episodes)
Andrzej Seweryn Andrzej Seweryn  Yudhishthira  (3 episodes)
Mas Soegeng Mas Soegeng  Virata  (3 episodes)
Antonin Stahly Viswanadhan Antonin Stahly Viswanadhan  The Boy  (3 episodes)
Tapa Sudana Tapa Sudana  Pandu / Shiva  (3 episodes)
Mahmoud Tabrizi-Zadeh Mahmoud Tabrizi-Zadeh  Sahadeva  (3 episodes)
Myriam Tadesse Myriam Tadesse  Gandhari’s servant  (3 episodes)
Velu Vishwananan Velu Vishwananan  The hermit  (3 episodes)

Series Produced by 

Michael Birkett executive producer (3 episodes)
Karen Brooks Hopkins producer: Brooklyn Academy of Music (3 episodes)
Ronald E. Feiner producer: Brooklyn Academy of Music (3 episodes)
Abigail Franklin producer: Brooklyn Academy of Music (3 episodes)
Sara Geater producer: Channel Four Representive (3 episodes)
Michael Kustow executive producer (3 episodes)
Harvey Lichtenstein executive producer (3 episodes)
Edward Myerson co-producer (3 episodes)
Michel Propper producer (3 episodes)
Christine Raspillère supervising producer (3 episodes)
Micheline Rozan co-producer (3 episodes)
Nina Steiner producer: Brooklyn Academy of Music (3 episodes)
Rachel Tabori co-producer (3 episodes)
William Wilkinson co-producer (3 episodes)

Series Music by 

Toshi Tsuchitori (3 episodes)

Series Cinematography by 

William Lubtchansky (3 episodes)

Series Film Editing by 

Nicolas Gaster (3 episodes)
Michèle Hollander (3 episodes)

Series Casting By 

Marie-Hélène Estienne (3 episodes)

Series Production Design by 

Chloé Obolensky (3 episodes)

Series Costume Design by 

Chloé Obolensky (3 episodes)

Series Second Unit Director or Assistant Director 

Josef Baar second assistant director (3 episodes)
Marc Guilbert first assistant director (3 episodes)
Philippe Tourret second assistant director (3 episodes)

Series Art Department 

Pascal Chatton second assistant decorator (3 episodes)

Series Sound Department 

Daniel Brisseau sound (3 episodes)
Camille Cotte dialogue editor (3 episodes)
Dominique Dalmasso sound (3 episodes)
François Gédigier sound editor (3 episodes)
Eric Mauer sound designer (3 episodes)

Series Camera and Electrical Department 

Marc Koninckx steadicam operator (3 episodes)
Philippe Lenouvel assistant camera / camera operator (3 episodes)
Richard Weber best boy electric (3 episodes)

Series Music Department 

Djamchid Chemirani musician (3 episodes)
Philippe Eidel music producer (3 episodes)
Kudsi Ergüner musician (3 episodes)
Kim Menzer musician (3 episodes)
Mahmoud Tabrizi-Zadeh musician (3 episodes)

Series Other crew 

Clifford De Spenser language coach (3 episodes)

Release Dates

USA 28 September 1989 (New York Film Festival)
France 24 January 1990 (theatrical release)
USA 15 February 1990  
West Germany 10 March 1990  
Brazil October 1990 (São Paulo International Film Festival)
UK 26 December 1990  
France 6 July 1991  

Also Known As (AKA)

(original title) The Mahabharata
France Le mahâbhârata
Greece (DVD title) The Mahabharata
Hungary Mahábhárata
Italy Il mahabharata
Poland Mahabharata
Soviet Union (Russian title) Махабхарата
West Germany (first part title) Mahabharata – Das Würfelspiel
West Germany (second part title) Mahabharata – Die Verbannung
West Germany (third part title) Mahabharata – Der Krieg

[Source: International Movie Database (IMDb)]


International Emmy Awards 1990

Performing Arts
Channel 4 Television Corporation

Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists 1991

European Silver Ribbon
Peter Brook

São Paulo International Film Festival 1990

Audience Award
Best Feature
Peter Brook

References | Resources

The Mahabharata – Les Productions du 3ème Etage
Produced by Michel Propper
Directed by Peter Brook
Channel Four Television | the Brooklyn Academy of Music (1989-90)

The Internet Sacred Text Library
| The largest freely available archive of online books about religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric on the Internet. The site is dedicated to religious tolerance and scholarship, and has the largest readership of any similar site on the web.


The Mahabharata | Free download | 12 vols (PDF)
The Bhagavad Gita | Free download | Three different modern translations
Rig Veda (complete) | Free download (PDF)
Veda Yajura (Yahurveda) (complete) | Free download (PDF)
Sama Veda (complete) | Free download (PDF)
Atharva Veda
The Upanishads (complete) | Free download (PDF) | Pt. 1 (Chandogya Upanishad; Talavakara (Kena) Upanishad; Aitareya Upanishad; Kausitaki Upanishad; Vajasaneyi (Isa) Upanishad) | Pt. 2 (Katha Upanishad; Mundaka Upanishad; Taittiriya Upanishad; Brhadaranyaka Upanishad; Svetasvatara Upanishad; Prasña Upanishad; Maitrayani Upanishad)


Amazon (UK) | The Mahabharata [DVD] [1989] [1990]
Peter Brook(Director)
Format: DVD

Amazon (UK) | The Illustrated Mahabharata: The Definitive Guide to India’s Greatest Epic (Book | Hardcover | Published 2 May 2017)


Peter Brook to rekindle the magic of the Mahabharata | Michael Billington (The Guardian, 13.01.2006)

Archive theatre review: Krishna comes to the city of the popes| Michael Billington (The Guardian, 18.12.2008)


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