Representation of Lord Krishna in Pop-Culture

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As someone who doesn’t consider himself as a ‘religious’ person, I have always been fascinated by frequency and how Lord Krishna has been referenced and mentioned in movies, music, and even in a YouTube comedy sketch.

In this regard, television has tended to take a conventional route, with a plethora of shows depicting the origin story of Lord Krishna from his childhood to adulthood.

Admittedly, I have minimal knowledge and understanding of the life of Lord Krishna.

Judging solely by the way he has been referenced in pop-culture, there were two phases of his life which I have been able to decipher: First, as the mischievous, yet adorable, boy who loved butter (which explains the nickname ‘Makhan Chor’). This is showed by the event ‘Dahi Handi’, which has been referenced in songs by actors such as Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan.

However, it is his reputation as the enchanter of the ‘gopis’ of Vrindavana and his love for Radha that has been an overpowering narrative of that phase.

TV Shows such as ‘RadhaKrishn’ gives a detailed account of the bond shared between the two, which can only be described as ‘absolute love’. The 2001 movie ‘Lagaan’ briefly explored this aspect while depicting the love story between the lead protagonists through song ‘Radha Kaise Na Jale’.

His reputation as the symbol of pure love has surprisingly been referenced in a popular YouTube comedy sketch. TVF’s Eat, Pray…Swipe, a sketch about Tinder, the dating app, showed the protagonist initially taking inspirations from Lord Hanuman when he set out on his Tinder journey. After a string of failures, his friend advices him to take inspiration from Lord Krishna: “Ye department inka (Lord Hanuman) nahi, unka (Lord Krishna) hai.”

The second aspect of his personality which has been referenced extensively is his role in the outcome of mythological epic, ‘Mahabharata’, wherein he became Arjuna’s charioteer (Saarthi) on the condition that he personally would not raise any weapon during the war. When Arjuna felt hesitant in engaging in war with his own family and loved ones, Krishna advised him about the nature of life, ethics, and morality in a war between good and evil. The famous conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna became what we today know as ‘The Bhagwad Gita’.

The book ‘Bhagwad Gita’ is known as the book of absolute truth, absolute knowledge, with practical applications, even (perhaps, especially) in today’s times.

For me, this particular aspect of Lord Krishna’s personality was shown beautifully with a modern-day twist in Prakash Jha’s 2010 Political-Thriller ‘Rajneeti’, wherein Nana Patekar played the role of Brij Gopal who was the mentor of Samar Pratap, played by Ranbir Kapoor.

The 2012 satirical comedy film, ‘OMG – Oh My God!’, is another movie that explored various aspects of Lord Krishna’s personality through the character played by Akshay Kumar.

Despite being a ‘non-religious’ person, Lord Krishna, his teachings, his ways of life have left a significant impact in my life, through the bodies of work created inspired by him. Due to their relevance since times immemorial to date and perhaps for generations to come, he will continue to be an inspiration for storytellers.

Written by - Snehil Kesarwani

Edited by - Chhavi Gupta

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