Sunday, November 29, 2009

50 Glorious Years of Doordarshan - IV

 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:

This is a better audio track of the above song:

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:


Varunavi said...

Nice post sandhya.Saw only few episodes of bharat ek khoj,would love to see the serial agaoin

Swaram said...

I remember watching a few episodes of this one too :) And u r rt, we were so used to Arun Govil and Nitish Bharadwaj na :) Even nw when there ws Ramayana on NDTVImagine with new artists, we still ended up talking abt him, Deepika etc.. ;)

hitch writer said...

This was a fantastic serial and I so wish someone would just retelecast it !!!!!!

beautiful... I had just forgotten all about this post !!!!!

wonderful to have the memories rekindled !!!!

Sandhya said...

Varunavi: We have watched it twice, if I remember correctly. Zee TV retelecasted it, I think.

Swaram: I saw some glimpses of the new 'ramayan' in NDTV Imagine and could not concentrate at all!

hitchwriter: Yes, this serial was directed by Benegal very nicely. Nobody else would have covered so many years of our history, in this way.

manju said...

Thanks for taking us down memory lane once again, Sandhya! I hope it is telecast again sometime because I saw only a few episodes. I remember Roshan Seth's voice well, though!

I'll be sure to view the links that you have given.

kanagu said...

I have seen Mahabharata and Ramayana.... but not the other ones...

my favourite is Mahabharata.... its too good.. and I really loved the songs..

the opening and ending credits have different songs... :)

radha said...

DD serials those days were so much better than what it is now. By being the first channel on air, they had an edge over all the present channels, the quality of programmes, the good news readers, serials.... but yet they faltered when they had to take on the competition and look where they are now, so far behind.

mesoliloquy said...

Sandhya, I have missed some of your fabulous reviews on old serials. I need to come back in leisure to read all.

Bharat ek khoj was my favorite serial. I have watched almost all the episodes.

Sandhya said...

Manju: Even I would like to see the serial once again. Now, we might notice the different angles in which Benegal had picturised the serial. We were too new to the TV in those days.

Kanagu: Good to know that you enjoyed the songs, Kanagu. Yes, the way they picturised Mahabharatha was better than Ramayana.

Radha: I try to stay with DD, at least for sometime, when I change channels. The picturisation is not catchy enough now and the quality of telecasting also is poor. The reason might be the private cable connections. I am not able to digest even the newsreaders! No emotions at all, I feel. I don't like the anchors of private channels who are shouting all the time, but the bland look also irritates.

Solilo: Welcome back. I have written about other subjects in between!

Did you watch Bharath Ek Khoj in Zee TV?

Deepa said...

A DD classic. I used to watch Bharat Ek Khoj often. Even though the budget was low, I thought the episodes were tastefully shot. They used to shoot on location I think. I remember the episodes on Pallava history. Vijay Kashyap I think played Mahendra Pallavan. And parts of it were shot in Mamallapuram. The Indus Valley episodes were also good. I don't recall much of the medival history episodes.

If I remember correctly, I think Ministry of I&B has brought out CDs of Bharat Ek Khoj.

kavita said...

It was most probably the best serial Doordarshan came up with...IF CDS are available it is a must buy,i would love to see this series all over again.Sandhya with every post of yours on DD you bring back some very special memories back.

vimmuuu said...

Never watched DD those days; infact we never got DD in the 'gelf' when i was young. Really dont have anything to say. :D :D :D So skipping this post and going over to the next one ! :D

Renu said...

I didnt see it, but otherwise I have seen all the movies by ShyamBenegal so I know how it would be..will make it a point to see it if it is telcast again now.

Sandhya said...

Deepa: Yes, the Indus Valley episode was classy. Many actors acted in different roles in different episodes. Importance was given to the script in this serial and the authenticity. I have got a feeling that we will enjoy this serial even now, like we did in those days, unlike the other serials, don't we, Deepa?

Kavita: How come you remember about so many serials even now? Great. I thought all youngsters might get bored about my DD serial reviews!

Vimmuuu: You must have been too young, vimmuuu. I just wanted to write about DD's first time serials of different types. Everything was new for our generation, even TV!

I have read many posts of yours and commented on only one! Your writing is superb! And Smita's too...I and my husband had cramps in our stomachs, reading your post about 'brushing'! Thank you!

Renu: You know how Benegal directs and this one is superb. It is not easy to picturize the whole 5000 years of our history, in 53 episodes. He did very well.

R. Ramesh said...

haha..enjoyed yr comment S..haha a pat 4 yr cat which is scared of cockroaches like me heh..cheers:)

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

What a marvelous and remembrance post Sandhya. Just superb!

Forest Warbler

deepsspeakingup said...

another one of your nostalgic posts! Bharat Ek Khoj used to be my mother's favourite serial. Being a history teacher,this one had to be :).
I remember she used to get all her chores done with in a jiffy just to be in time to watch her serial. What days they were,Sandhya. I miss them :(

Thank you for sharing.

Sandhya said...

Bhavesh: Thank you, Bhavesh!

Deepu: Thank you Deepu!

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