Mahabharat: Here's how the iconic TV show's actors looked like then and now

Updated: Jun 19, 2020, 13:26 | Nikita Wagh
  • Mukesh Khanna

    Mukesh Khanna: The veteran actor was merely 30 when he featured in BR Chopra's Mahabharat, where he played the character of 'Devavrata' Bhishma aka Bhishma Pitamah, Shantanu-Ganga's eighth son, Satyavati's step-son, paternal uncle of Dhritrashtra, Pandu, paternal grand-uncle of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. The 62-year-old actor is quite active on social media nowadays.

  • Daboo Malik

    Daboo Malik: For the Millenials, he is popularly known as Armaan Malik's father, but for the older generation, Daboo is best remembered as the silent lover of Shilpa Shetty in Baazigar. Well, much before Baazigar, Daboo had essayed the role of an adolescent Bhishma in Mahabharat. Daboo had shared a few pictures of his Bhishma avatar on Instagram recently and wrote, "Sometimes somethings remain for a lifetime"

  • Nitish Bhardwaj

    Nitish Bhardwaj: He was known for his long-standing portrayal of Hindu deity Krishna in B.R. Chopra's Mahabharat. For his initial role in the 1988-1990 tele-series, he had deeply reviewed literature and books to understand Krishna's character. Bhardwaj, later, had a brief stint with politics as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian. He also acted in the 2016 Hindi film Mohenjo Daro by Ashutosh Gowariker.

  • Roopa Ganguly

    Roopa Ganguly: She played Draupadi, wife of the Pandavas, also called as Panchali and Yagyaseni in the epic mythological show. And in fact, she rose to fame after it. Besides 'Mahabharat', Ganguly is a well-known face on television due to her roles in serials like 'Karam Apnaa Apnaa' and 'Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo'. She acted in films like Goutam Ghosh directed 'Padma Nadir Majhi', Aparna Sen's 'Yugant' and Rituparno Ghosh's 'Antarmahal', and also won the National Film Award in the best playback singer category for the Bengali film 'Abosheshey' (At the End of It All). She is now a BJP MP.

  • Gufi Paintal

    Gufi Paintal: Well, who can forget the cunning Shakuni Mama, Gandhari's brother? Gufi Paintal's on-screen portrayal and his dialogues are still etched in our minds! His conniving, manipulative, scheming and shrewd act was the highlight of the show. The actor, after his Mahabharat stint, got offers in various mythological shows such as 2013's Bharat Ka Veer Putra – Maharana Pratap, where he played Humayun, 2016's Shani, where he played Vishwakarma, 2018's Karn Sangini, where he played Kripacharya and the latest one being RadhaKrishn, where he played Vishwakarma.

  • Renuka Israni

    Renuka Israni: The Bade Achhe Lagte Hai actress was just 22 when she played Gandhari, wife of Dhritrashtra (the blind king of Hastinapur), sister of Shakuni and mother of the Kauravas in Mahabharat. When Gandhari finds out that her would-be husband was born blind, she decides to blindfold herself in order to be like her husband. Gandhari's role was earlier offered to actress Kiran Joneja.

  • Arjun Feroz Khan

    Arjun Feroz Khan: There cannot be a greater feeling for any actor when he's known by the name of the characters he has essayed on the big screen or even the small screen. If Amjad Khan was Gabbar Singh, Amrish Puri was Mogambo, Shah Rukh Khan was Raj and Rahul, Feroz Khan was Arjun. Yes, Arjun from Mahabharat. Such was the popularity of the role and such was the impact on people that he was rechristened as Arjun Feroz Khan. You may know him as the villain from a lot of Bollywood films of the 90s but it was this iconic television show that shaped his career and made him a household name.

  • Chetan Hansraj

    Chetan Hansraj: Every actor associated with Mahabharat became a star and had a fanbase. One such actor is Chetan Hansraj, who played the young Balram. Chetan, who was a child actor back then recalled receiving a ton of fan mails, saying, "I was 14-years-old when I played Balram in Mahabharat, and it was completely magical. All of us used to get lots of feedback and messages from fans via letters. I was in school and every day I used to receive gunny bags full of letters. Back then, there was a photograph-autograph system with fan mails. So, fans would mail me an empty envelope with a return stamp attached and had to sign the picture and send it back with the letter. It was my daily routine. Before going to school, I would sign my pictures and put them in the envelopes. Every morning my father would give me a stack of envelopes with pictures to sign. It was a wonderful time."

  • Gajendra Chauhan

    Gajendra Chauhan: He essayed the immortal and iconic role of Yudhishthir in the classic show Mahabharat. He was initially offered the role of Lord Krishna. The makers even shot for two episodes of the series in this role. However, due to delay in the filming of the episode, Gajendra took up a project down south. Upon his return, the actor had put on weight and the makers thought he would be unsuitable for the role of Krishna. Thus, he was offered the role of Yudhishthir.

  • Pankaj Dheer

    Pankaj Dheer: The veteran actor played the role of Karna, son of Kunti and Surya, in the show. The tragic hero of Mahabharat, Karna is a key antagonist who aims to kill Arjuna but dies in a battle with him during the Kurukshetra war. In real life too, Pankaj Dheer, during the shoot of the show had several near-death experiences. The actor was hit by an arrow close to his eyes, after which he had to undergo surgery.

  • Puneet Issar

    Puneet Issar: The veteran actor played Duryodhan, the eldest son of Gandhari and Dhritarashtra, also the elder brother of 99 Kauravas. He aced the role of lead antagonist, however, did you know Puneet was offered the role of Bheem by BR Chopra? But when Puneet insisted on playing Duryodhan in the show, Chopra agreed to cast him on one condition that if the makers do not find a man with a bigger body than Puneet for the role of Bheem, then the actor will have to take up the role of Bheem. Puneet then recommended Praveen Kumar for the role of Bheem and he got the role he wanted.

  • Sumeet Raghvan

    Sumeet Raghvan: Sumeet was 16 when he played the character of Krishna's friend, Sudama in Mahabharat. As a teen, he had no inkling that the show will create history. Sharing his experience, Sumeet said, "I was very young when I bagged the role, and as excited as any new kid on the block. Back then, I did not realise that I was going to be a part of history. But I do remember seeing Mukesh ji and Nitish ji on the set. They were in their prime then, and I was completely in awe of them." Sumeet later rose to fame amongst the TV audience as Sahil Sarabhai with the show Sarabhai vs Sarabhai.

  • Varsha Usgaonkar

    Varsha Usgaonkar: She essayed the role of Rajkumari Uttara in the show. "I fondly remember B R Chopra sir's words and how he would be our guiding light while shooting. The entire cast was and still is extremely fond of each other and we would all have our lunch break together. They were no less than a family to me and even on my off days, I would go to the sets just to catch up with them," shared Varsha.

  • Harish Bhimani

    Harish Bhimani: And last, but not the least, the voice behind "Samay" was none other than Harish Bhimani. He served as narrator on the mythological show, starting with the line - "Main Samay Hoon". Recently, in an interview, Bhimani was quoted saying, "'Mahabharat' holds a mirror to the dos and don'ts of life and nudges us to rise above the perils of emotions and be righteous in life. Even today, the show creates a never seen before charismatic viewing experience right in front of the television sets for viewers of all age groups." And we couldn't agree more.

  • Mahabharat cast

    Mahabharat is enjoying a dream run on television and as days pass by, the TRPs are only likely to grow! Go relive your childhood memories!

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About The Gallery

Though several makers have attempted to recreate the Hindu epic, Mahabharat, for the small screen, no one has been able to match the one created by BR Chopra and son, Ravi. Their 139-episode-long series, which aired between 1988 and 1990, took the nation by storm with its screenplay and star cast. The show has returned to the small screen amid the coronavirus lockdown. On Mukesh Khanna's birthday (June 19), we revisit the characters and how they look now.