Bharat Ek Khoj/Discovery of India
The Masterpiece Serial of Doordarshan and Benegal
Let me start this post about one of the best DD serial, with its title song, which impressed everyone, when it was telecast in 1980:
Bhrat ek khoj - The title is so apt for this serial which was telecast in Door Darshan in the eightees. The story was based on the book written by our first Prime Minister, Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru and the 53 episodes' series was directed by our veteran director, Shyam Benegal.
Like we watched 'Hum Log' and 'Buniyaad', we watched this serial also, with full attention. I think it was telecast on Sunday mornings. Later on, we have seen repeat telecast also. The title song was very impressive and is a simple version of verses of Rigveda. The verse begins like this and Wikipedia has given the English meaning, which is very simple to follow:
'Srushtee se pehle sat nahin thaa,
asat bhi nahin, Antariksh bhi nahin,
aakaash bhi nahin thaa
chhipaa thaa kyaa kahaan,
kisne dekhaa thaa, us pal to agam,
atal jal bhi kahaan thaa
The serial covered 5000 years of history of India, from the Indus Valley Civilization to our Independence in 1947, which included Vedic period and the writings of the Vedas, beginning of the caste system, the period of Chanakya and the invasion of Alexander, Ashoka, Kalidasa, the formation and survival of the Delhi Sultanate (the Slave dynasty and ahead), Mughals, Marathas, British East India Company, the first war of Independence of 1857, Quit India Movement and many others.
The deep throated voices of Roshan Seth (the story teller, who acted as Nehru in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi ) and Om Puri (the narrator in the background) gave class to the serial. Though describing 5000 years of rich and varied history of such a large sub-continent in 53 episodes seems impossible, Shyam Benegal had done an excellent job at giving an insight into the history of ancient and modern India through fabulous storytelling and direction. This is one of his masterpiece work, I am sure.
I remember criticizing Salim Ghouse acting in this serial as Rama and Krishna (we are used to Arun Govil and Nitish Bhardwaj in those roles!), but his voice gave the characters life and Benegal was right in selecting them for these roles. Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Om Puri, Neena Gupta, Anjan Srivastava and many other familiar actors, played different roles in different episodes. I read in the credits that a Salim Arif was the costume designer...the costumes of the artistes were very simple, but good - this serial was done with a low budget. Much importance was not given to the war scenes etc. but given to the happenings of the period.
When we watched this serial, we never felt like watching a documentary. Benegal did not dramatize the stories much, still, it was engrossing. All of us were watching the serial and my sons were able to follow our history better in this way than through books, I felt, at that time. Now, let me give you some scenes of the serial, which I think, is interesting. You can notice Benegal using the local folklore and folk singers/artists in most of the episodes, with their version of the story, which was applicable to that episodes.
Sample of Roshan Seth and Om Puri's voice:
Bharath Mata ki Jai: Nehru talks about Bharat mata, to the villagers...very interesting:
Ramayan episode starts with folk song:
Mahabharat scene starts with the famous Maharashtrian folk story-teller. Mahabharata's Geethopadesha scene:
This is the ending track of Bharat Ek Khoj
I can keep on writing at least one more post about this serial! This one is quite a long post! All of us enjoyed watching this beautiful serial and I would be happy if you watch it, when it is re-telecast again in some channel and know more about our own Indian history! I assure you, you will not be a bit bored!
I came across this video, while looking for the title track of this serial. If you are interested, have a look: