Monday, April 11, 2005

When I was young, Doordarshan ran the wonderfully campy series Vikram-Vetaal.

[Background score] Vikram Vikram Vikram Vikram...Vetaal Vetaal Vetaal Vetaal, Veeekraaam aur Vetaaaaaal...Viiikraaam aur Veeeeytaaaal...

Every episode started with King Vikram [ actually Trivikramasena played by legendary ham Arun Govil ] getting to the simsapa tree in the middle of the cemetry with his sword drawn. First he would jump up and down trying to reach the corpse. He would then, dressed very happily in orange, climb up the tree to get to the corpse. This he did by doing some tacky acrobatics, which esentially involved hooking his ankles together and swinging towards the corpse. He would do this for a while and would finally manage to cut the corpse possessed by the Vetaala [ played by a very good man who agreed to do the role, aptly named Sajjan ] down. On hitting the ground the corpse would invariably, howl in pain and Arun Govil with his Ramayana hangover would at once become immensely concerned about the Vetaalas well being. He would rush to the vetaala and then the vetaala would laugh a hysterical laugh and the corpse would move by its own volition along the ground with Vikram chasing it in vain. Then the vetaala would fly back up the tree laughing all the while. King Vikram would steel his being and set out once again to cut the corpse down. This time he would do it with immaculate timing, outwitting the vetaal, without blinking a single wooden eyelid. He would then swing the corpse over his shoulder and set out. The corpse/vetaal more or less rode piggyback on Arun Govil, like one of those popular and excrutiatingly painful ordeals one has to go through when dealing with 4 yr old kids. The Vetaala itself was very funny to look at with a voice like old timer villian Jeevans'. It had a powder caked face, a flowing white wig and horrendously lip-sticky lips that opened wide in a leering grin, which in turn revealed an absence of teeth. [Background score repeat!] Vikram Vikram Vikram Vikram...Vetaal Vetaal Vetaal Vetaal, Veeekraaam aur Vetaaaaaal...V aur V... The deal was that Arun Govil/Vikram was not supposed to say a word till he got the Vetaal outside the Smashan ghat. Now Vetaal would say, "Raasta kathin hai, Chalo rajan, main tumhein ek kahaani sunaata hoon".He would then weave a tale about some Jataka-tales-era characters which would finally end in a moral dilemma. The best part about these tales was that, they were always populated by the same set of junior artistes in different outrageous hair do's. Then Vetaal would say," Batao Rajan, ab is samasyaa ka kya hal hua? Agar aap jaante hue bhi, nahi bataayenge, toh main aapke sar ka hazaaaaron tukde kar doonga " Wonderful! And Vikram, he would be forced to solve the problem like a moral, god fearing Deep Blue computer. In a jiffy. And in a jiffy, again, Vetaal would rise up and away back to his Tree Joint saying in sepulchral tones, " Ha Ha Ha...ab tu bolaa, toh main chala...ha ha ha" And he would fly using the same technology they used to make Hanuman in Ramayan fly. And Vikram would run chasing him again...ad infinitum it would seem. Luckily the series ended:) But, Subconciously, our feeble minds were irrevocably altered by the travails of King Vikram and slimy old Vetaal. My attitude to philosophy has been shaped by Vikram-Vetaal almost completely. Including and especially InDUHvidualism.

7 comments:

A Chrysanthemum by any other name... said...

Hey u got ur hands on this? Give it to me!

zap said...

no da. we will need to know someone in Doordarshan to get hold of Vikram Vetaal:(

Blog World said...

A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless, to resist.
Stewart Alsop- Posters.

H said...

Duuuude!

that's the stuff our childhood was made of. Gosh.

I would always always expect to see Vetal hanging from the tree outside our window.

romila22 said...

man, i loved your post. was doing a search on old dd serials for a story for my paper and stumbled on this one. glad to have people who saw such stuff, share the same memories, with a pinch of salt too...

Vidya Rajaram said...

Hey - Check out youtube for Vikram aur Betaal videos :))

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=vikram+aur+vetaal&search_type=

Anonymous said...

Hey!

Great post there. Incidentally, I am trying to put together a website on dd nostalgia at (work in progress) www.dd1nostalgia.in

Would you mind if I could use this post of yours on my website ? I would be more than happy to have you as the author for the post on my webpage, will be great to hear from you :)