Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Story of India

This is a computer-generated birth-chart of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, as shown in Michael Wood’s landmark six-part BBC documentary ‘The Story of India.’ According to the chart, Akbar was a Leo, and he was destined to rule and acquire his own wealth and so on and so forth.

I personally have made no bones about the fact that I am suspicious of foreigner coming to India and tell the story of India from a decidedly Western point-of-view (this include William Dalrymple as well, though everyone I know and their cousins love this guy.). But, Michael Wood, wide-eyed and in a crumpled Fab India shirt, manages to convince me to listen to him, and in most parts he makes sense.

What works for Michael Wood and the series? First, the enthusiasm. Wood travels the length and breath of the country, and instead of doing this journey chronologically or geography, he does it thematically. Each of the six episodes is arranged under a broad theme. These are, ‘beginnings’, ‘the power of ideas’, ‘spice routes and silk roads’, ‘the meeting of two oceans’ and ‘freedom’. Wood’s narration has a child-like enthusiasm that persuades you to follow him, even if you are a skeptic. Okay, there are elements of exoticism, but Woods always strives to go beyond that.

Second, research. It’s a monumental task to tell the story of India in six hours. Wood does a fairly good job. For this, credit goes to his research it and how Wood finally wrote the show. Wood narrates history, but instead of making it drab, he goes inside the tale. He goes to the location, like, Kushinagar where Gautam Buddha achieved his Nirvana, and tells the story for inside. The background around him gives his tales a sense of authenticity, which is incredible.

The Story of India is a BBC TV documentary series, written and presented by historian Michael Wood, about the 10,000-year history of the Indian subcontinent in six episodes. It was originally aired on the BBC in six episodes in August and September 2007 as part of the BBC season "India and Pakistan 07", which marked the 60 years independence of India and Pakistan. In the United States, PBS broadcast the series on three consecutive Mondays, 5 January to 19 January 2009, from 9pm to 11pm. In Australia, the series was broadcast on ABC1 each Sunday at 7:30pm from 29 March until 3 May 2009. An accompanying text was published by BBC Books. As in most of his documentaries, Wood explains historical events by travelling to the places where they took place, examining archeological and historical evidence at first hand and interviewing historians and archaeologists, as well as chatting with local people.
The Story of India in Wikipedia.

More on The Story of India Here.
Read the synopsis of The Story of India here.
You can watch The Story of India online Here.

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