Content brings along with it power and popularity. However, for a content creator, it becomes a responsibility. Today is the age of social media where everyone is a content producer, courtesy internet penetration. However, back in the 1990s, there were no mediums like Instagram or YouTube. There only happened to be a single broadcaster, that is Doordarshan. Hence, the content slots were countable and the one having them, enjoyed immense popularity. One such name is Neerja Guleri, who is known for her show ‘Chandrakanta’. One of the most popular shows of its time, a show which forced Doordarshan to take it down and a show that does did great injustice to its original creator, Shri Devki Nandan Khatri.
Chandrakanta: The novel which revolutionised Hindi literature
Chandrakanta, as known by all, is a romantic fantasy novel written by Devaki Nandan Khatri. Khatri was a popular writer from Varanasi from the first generation of modern Hindi novelists. It came to be known as the first Hindi bestseller or the first Hindi fantasy novel. It not only gained critical accolades but was such a commercial success that Khatri was prompted to write a 24-part sequel titled Chandrakanta Santati.
Often such classics are adopted into films and serials, however, the makers in order to partly adopt the writing, end up doing injustice to the same. The case of Neerja Guleri is no different.
Even the grandson of the author, Kamlapati Khatri had accused Guleri of not doing justice to the soul of Khatri’s Chandrakanta and misrepresenting many concepts of the novel like tilism and aiyyari.
Tracing differences between the book and the adaptation
We till now know the might of the novel that was penned by Devki Nandan Khatri. Now, to understand how poor the adaptation was, we need to first know the original story.
Chandrakanta is a story of Princess Chandrakanta of the Vijaygarh kingdom and Prince Virendra Singh of the Navgarh kingdom. Written in the form of a love story, the battle here is about Chandrakanta and based on a pressing question, ‘will the two lovebirds meet at the end or not’. The story revolves around Aiyyars who are skilled to adapt any personality, treasury, kingdoms and the princess herself. Although in the adaptation, the names and characters remain almost the same, the concept of aiyyar has been totally distorted just like tilism.
How was the entire story sabotaged?
What the original novel offers you is budding love between the two, the prince and the princess; how Krur Singh, who is creating differences between the kings of Navgarh and Vijaygarh kingdom. Singh gets the support of two aiyyars named Ahmed and Nazil, iOn the other hand, Prince Virender Singh has an aiyyar named Tez Singh, who has all the strength of the world, other than the skill of aiyyari. The might and intellect of Tez Singh just amazes one, however in the TV adaptation he is hardly visible.
Further, the Muslim factor. The community has been painted white and are shown as are portrayd as fighters. However, in the original novel, the community enjoyed no credibility in the Navgarh and Vijaygarh kingdoms were used as the first line of defense in the battles.
Further, the TV adaptation has entirely changed the character of Shiv dutt, the king of Chunargarh kingdom and the affection between the kings of both the kingdoms have been effectively sidelined.
Further, as a pain to the eye, the show rests on the shoulders of Janbaaz, who appears every time on screen with ayats of Quran and hailing ‘Ya Ali maddad’. To your surprise, the original story by Khatri had no such character.
The distortion of concepts like aiyyar and tilism
Aiyyars, as per the novel, are skilled people who know many things, from makeup to fighting, are intelligent and can adapt any personality within seconds. However, the intellectual Neerja Guleri had transformed the aiyyars into some magicians, and had totally sidelined their skills. Further, the tilisma part, the hurdles that the prince crosses to save his princess Chandrakanta were completely based upon the principles of Fluid Dynamics and Rotational Mechanics. However, the creator, writer, director Neerja Guleri has sidelined the physics stuff, as if none on the set could understand a basic subject. So, Here is an advice for all the content consumers, if you want to know about classics, read the original.
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