Serialization of the Indian epic 'The Mahabharata' on BBC Radio 4
Verma and Claudia Mayer explored a wide range of sources across different media in the process of researching this first serialization of the Indian epic ‘The Mahabharata’ for BBC Radio 4. The Mahabharata is one of the most important literary and oral texts in South Asia and its epic nature makes it particularly demanding to adapt for radio. With more than 74,000 verses, it is one of the longest epic poems in the world. It is of great importance to the culture of India and Nepal and is a major text of Hinduism. Verma’s and Mayer’s version of the Mahabharata was based on the original text in Sanskrit, the authoritative Poona editions as well as key translations, including the (incomplete) version by J.A.B. Van Buitenen for Chicago University. In addition, Verma and Mayer had recourse to the year-long serialization of the entire epic by Doordarshan TV in India, as well as the stage version scripted by Jean-Claude Carriere for Peter Brook.Verma and Mayer’s key departure in the re-telling of this epic was to view it from the perspective of one of the central characters, Yudhishtra: this had never been attempted before, in India or elsewhere. By turning it into a personal chronicle they hoped to make the story more intimate and acessible to radio listeners.Produced by the BBC the adaptation was the broadcast nationally twice a week for three weeks in September 2007. It was also repeated on the World Service network.