here’s some childhood t.v. Doordarshan nostalgia for you…personally I never watched this series but I used to read the story-book about the corpse hanging from a tree that King Vikram needs to collect for a tantric to use in his magickal workings… you need to watch the clip halfway to see the ghost flying and don’t miss the special effects skulls at the very end.
The series was about a righteous king ,Vikram who goes in search of a ghost, Betaal. Each time he succeeds in trapping him but has to listen to a story on his way back. There is also an impending condition set by Betaaal that he would accompany Vikram as long as he kept his vow of silence, never uttering a word. These were simple stories which contained a moral, and a question at the end posed by Betaal to Vikram. Betaal also warned the king that if he knew the answer and failed to answer it, he (Betal) would have his head. The cunning Betal knew that the king was too clever not to know the answer, and each time Vikram fell for the trap followed by the inevitable …tu bola aur main chala…voooooo.
so here’s the intro from the t.v. serial with Satish Shah (ghost Betaal) clinging on Arun Govil’s back telling him a story and asking questions at the end and then flying away giggling…
and here’s a new cartoon version of the same…not very good but it gives you some idea of the story…altough I’d kind of like to punch the narrator…who talks about the “strong bodied and fair skinned” Vikram in one of those “for good times make it santori times” whisky commercial accents….anyway…
by the way, because of the trouble with translating Sanskrit into phoenetic english, Betaal can also be read as vetaal, or vetala. Just so as we can be clear on this species of ghost because the Baital, was a supernatural being in india that is half human and half bat, not to be confused with this species of ghost that likes to hang from trees upside down, possess corpses, and has hair like an old woman.
In India, tales of vetalas, ghoul-like beings that inhabit corpses, are found in old Sanskrit folklore. A prominent story tells of King Vikramāditya and his nightly quests to capture an elusive vetala. The vetala legends have been compiled in the book Baital Pachisi.