He narrates the birth of our Constitution


After having received the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the commendable work that Shyam Benegal has done in the past five decades, there is still a fire that keeps this legend going on to experiment and push his boundaries.

Though it was documentaries that welcomed him into the film industry, the veteran filmmaker has proved his mettle in almost every genre, including television.
Remember the classic television serial Bharat Ek Khoj (1988) based on Jawaharlal Nehru’s book, Discovery of India?

The brain behind this enchanting serial is back to present his work to
TV addicts with ‘Samvidhaan – The Making of the Constitution of India.’
The 10-part mini series which is all set to be aired on Rajya Sabha Television, beginning March 2, took the veteran director “nearly that much time as our founding fathers who framed our Constitution in two years, 11 months and 17 days,” says Shyam Benegal.

“It all started when Hamid Ansari, our Vice President was discussing about the insufficient knowledge of people about the birth of our Constitution,” says Shyam who, then a member of Rajya Sabha, eagerly took up the task since he found it an “exciting project. Since it was not possible to make that long a film, I decided to make a mini TV series with hour-long episodes.”

He felt “it was not possible to narrate this long story without constant intervention” and thus selected the talented actor Swara Bhaskar as the sutradhar or anchor. “This series has all three elements – drama, education and entertainment. It is a dynamic series and not like a story which has a beginning, middle and end. To make something comprehensive, you need an actor and a female actor is of course more credible and attractive. A male actor would have missed a certain persuasion that a female provides to the viewers,” he says in a matter-of-fact manner.

Though Dr BR Ambedkar’s character is crucial to the serial, he thinks that all characters were equally difficult to sketch. “There were 294 people in the Constituent Assembly that was given the task of framing our Constitution, which was to make our country get into a transition from being ruled by Britain to an
independent republic. There is so much drama, because while this new Constitution was being born, people faced the harsh truth of Partition and experienced pain
while migrating from one place to another.”

Though he constructed a look alike set of Parliament in Mumbai, the filmmaker got permission to shoot with the anchor in real setting as well. “If security inside Parliament wouldn’t have been the concern, I would have shot the whole series here,” says the veteran who believes in the power of television.

“When people go to watch cinema, their primary reason is entertainment. Television, however, attempts to inform, educate and entertain you. It also has a wide reach,” adds the director who feels that Samvidhaan... has it all to be broadcast on the small screen.

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