Mama’s Boys, a short YouTube film based on Draupadi’s polygamous marriage to five Pandava brothers from the ancient Hindu epic Mahabharat, is a hit with online audiences in India, but has angered some hardline Hindus, writes the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi.
The hilarious 16-minute film has Bollywood actress Aditi Rao Hydari playing Draupadi as a saucy, salacious modern woman who is flirtatious and shops for sexy lingerie.
Mahabharat, created more than 2,000 years ago, is a complex story of the mythological Kurukshetra war. It is the longest known epic poem in the world, about 10 times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined.
Director Akshat Verma’s Mama’s Boys is a modern take on the curious tale of Draupadi’s five husbands, although it remains faithful to the narrative of the original story. The actors and actresses are dressed as mythical kings and queens in reams of beautiful silk and heavy gold crowns, but the setting is contemporary and they speak in a mix of Hindi and English.
The film opens with the warrior prince Arjun, one of the Pandava brothers, bringing home his new wife Draupadi and trying to introduce her to his mother, Kunti.
As Kunti is busy doing household chores and has her back turned to the couple, she tells Arjun to “share whatever you’ve brought with your brothers”.
Now Arjun is obviously not happy with this arrangement – who can blame him for not wanting to share his wife? – and starts lobbying his brothers to tell their mother that it’s not a great idea and that she should reconsider.
There have been attempts in the past to retell the Mahabharat from Draupadi’s perspective, but generally she is unhappy at the idea of being “shared”. In Mama’s Boys however, she’s excited at the prospect of multiple husbands and actively seduces them.
Not just Draupadi, the Pandavas of Mama’s Boys are also very different from the way they were in the original epic and Verma’s script is full of risque and suggestive dialogue.
The eldest Yudhishthir – a virtuous man who never lied – is a rakish gambler who lusts after Draupadi as she emerges from the swimming pool in her almost-backless blouse.
Bheem, the bodybuilder, can’t take his eyes off her posterior as they sweat it out together in the gym.
Nakul and Sahdev – the twins and the youngest of the siblings – are gay but realise that having Draupadi as their wife will help them keep their cover intact.
Over the past week, many Indians have taken to social media to praise the film as “mischievous and irreverent”, “funniest” and “interesting”:
But this unusual take on the epic has predictably not gone down well with some Hindu hardliners and one group, called the Hindu Sena, has lodged a complaint with the police.
“Akshat Verma and the team of Mama’s Boys have deliberately and maliciously acted intending to outrage religious feelings of Hindus by insulting its religion and religious beliefs by making fun of its religious book,” the complaint said.
Reports say the police are investigating the complaint to see if there is any merit in it.
Following the complaint, Mama’s Boys can no longer be watched on the YouTube channel of the LargeShortFilms, as the makers have decided to restrict its viewing, although the film is still available on the internet.
Director Verma, meanwhile, has said his intention was not to offend anyone and that he was just trying to explore what went on in the minds of the characters.