Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb believes that internet technology and satellite communication existed during the period in which the Mahabharata is set (which could be anywhere between 950 BCE and 3102 BCE). “How could Dhritarashtra see through Sanjay’s eyes?” Deb reportedly said during a workshop on Computerisation and Reforms in Agartala on Tuesday. “This means technology was there, internet was there, satellite was there.”

Was Sanjaya, the scribe who narrates the events of the Kurukshetra war to the blind king Dhritarashtra, peering into the device that KV Reddy used in the mythological fantasy Mayabazar? The 1957 Telugu blockbuster is based on a legend that features in the Mahabharata epic. Mayabazar has an ancient precursor to video conferencing technology and Facetime in the form of a screen contained in a jewel-encrusted box. The device has a gender – female – and a name – Priyadarshini – and helps the characters see what they want the most.

The magical box is a gift from Krishna (NT Rama Rao) to Sasirekha (Savitri) so that she may gaze upon her betrothed, Abhimanyu (Akkineni Nageswara Rao). Abhimanyu seems to be able to see Sasirekha too, and they happily sing to each other.

Neeve Naa, Mayabazar (1957).

In the sequence that follows, other characters crowd in front of the wondrous box. One woman sees jewels; the other gets a hint of trouble ahead. If they had waited for a bit longer, they might have seen Biplab Kumar Deb at the Agartala workshop, drawing links between ancient India and modern technology.

Mayabazar (1957).