Epic, India’s first segmented channel on History & Mythology, seems to me, a product of an epic idea with a potential to bring considerable change in the basic fabric of Indian thought, which at the moment, seems withered & confused because of sheer ignorance when it comes to India’s illustrious & often complex heritage of history, culture & mythology. Gone are the days when children grew up with grandparents who would instill the ancient wisdom of timeless folklores during bedtime or mix mythological tales with assorted spices in the curry at dinner. Today, Television is the proverbial grandmother, the stories this idiot box chooses to tell, shapes our thoughts, dreams & most importantly, identity.
In this regard, The Epic Channel is strikingly prolific in terms of content. It serves a wholesome diet, catering as much to your rational brain as to the deeper places in your soul craving for fantasy & magic. And it does all that while educating us on our own identity & heritage, which is forgotten due to the dominance of western popular culture, disseminated gleefully by majority of channels currently operating on cable TV. The shows on Epic are carefully picked out to be a part of a layered potpourri, managing also, to retain their individual identity by being very distinct from each other.
The ingredients are varied: History is sprinkled in abundance with shows like Ekaant, which focuses on deserted places in remote corners of India with a past, and Adrishya, which showcases the unsung heroes from Indian history. History being an already explored subject, Epic, as a stroke of genius, brings us the stories we don’t know, rather than presenting the already talked about events yet again. That is what gives it an edge. For Food buffs, Raja Rasoi aur Kahaniya, explores the journey of special cuisines all over India and local legends around them. The close up shots of these delicacies are bound to bring water into your mouth. The research behind RRK defintely sets it a class apart from other food shows on TV currently. But the strongest flavor to Epic is lent by the inclusion of Indian mythology everywhere, sometimes subtle, sometimes daring. Dharmkshetra, a show detailing the post death trials of all characters of the Mahabharata for their actions during the war, is intellectually stimulating and gives a direction to the timeless debate on the blurred lines between the Good & the Evil in the Ved Vyas Epic.
And if you are starting to think Epic is maybe at best, an Indian version of Discovery , there’s more to it. The fiction segment brings originality to Indian TV like never before. Ghost Busters get a Desi identity through a show called Danav Hunters. The ghosts are of an unending variety, given the Indian character, so we get to watch the battle of the good and the evil again and again in the most innovative ways which do not get repetitive. Sherlock Holmes & Watson also adorn a delicious Indian avatar in Dariba Diaries against a quaint backdrop of the pre- independence Era. Siyasat, an intelligent mix of both fact & fiction exposes us to the glory of the Mughal Period beautifully.
My personal favorite is a sitcom called Yam Kisis se Kam Nhi. The dreaded God of death in Hindu mythology is turned into an innocent endearing character, which is a classic case of a guy caught in the wrong job. His antics , spiced up by the presence of a sassy wife from earth & her teenager brother, make for a delightful watch, which brings in an aroma of the innocence of the imported dubbed American sitcoms in the 90’s we loved . It is a great relief, that finally we have a genuinely funny sitcom of our own.
Epic has everything what it takes to gain the status of a cult channel. Amidst hordes of commercial channels that keep selling us a distorted view of Indian culture through their unending joint family soaps, Epic is starting to get noticed. That brings me hope. Whether the channel has a goal to break in to the common stream is left to be seen. If connecting to the larger audience is on its agenda, it could do a little better by introducing some glamour into production & cast in the fiction segment. Historical fiction has a huge potential for bringing enticing beauty to screens. The mass loves to see beautiful people on TV & if these beautiful people can act, supported by strong script, any show becomes irresistible. But it’s a very thin line and Epic will need to tread carefully so that it does not compromise on the quality of content for commercial popularity & numbers in future. At present though, Epic is undoubtedly the most epic thing to have happened to Indian TV and I wish the team all the best for future.