Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A documentary on a documentary

I love watching documentaries. They keep me occupied no end. Especially, I love travelogues and historical ones. Was watching an episode of a documentary "Story of India" on PBS, a educational TV channel in the US. It was maybe on the lines of 'Discovery of India', the book by Jawaharlal Nehru, which was televised and telecast on DD sometime back as 'Discovery of India/Bharat, Ek Khoj', which I used to watch with awe and interest and the chants that started and concluded the episodes were so wonderful on the ears. (Starting chants of Bharat, Ek Khoj and Ending chants of Bharat, Ek Khoj)

The documentary started off with the silk route from China, the Kushanas and Kanishka, their ruler, probably the greatest ruler of northern India. It then moved to the spice route from the west (Greeks, Romans, Spain, Portugal) to lots of places on the west coast, which was famed for the spices, especially pepper, in exchange for our everlasting obsession from time immemorial, gold. Kerala is one of the key trading spots and they show how a big bowed ship is built with just wood and nails, in the backwaters, just the way it was done eons back. The topic moved to Buddhism in time of Kanishka which was a dominant religion at one time. It then goes searching for lost Stupas, of which one in Peshawar has been documented by the western travellers as having one of the largest ever known, but it doesn't exist now, with only a mound marking the place where it might have stood once. A brief vista into Samarkhand, in Uzbekistan which was the confluence of the east and west on the silk road. That scenery there is breathtaking.

Continuing on the spice route, the documentary moves to Madurai, famed for its temple and the trade in textiles that happened during that period, then to Thanjavur, for the big temple and the golden time of the Cholas with Raja Raja Chozhan (gee, they showed some clippings from the movie, 'Raja Raja Chozhan' enacted by Sivaji Ganesan). There is a dialogue with the Mahratta prince of Thanjavur. There is a short sequence about bronzes and how they are cast. Absolutely lovely and intricate moulds and into them are poured glowing hot melted bronze. The artisans use methods followed by their ancestors and do not use a metric scale for measurement even now. The landscape moves to Tiruvannamalai, where they show the Utsavar and the lighting of the Annamalai Deepam.

It was a nice weaving of historical facts with a good narrative.

That program was followed by another on an American moving around in Iran. There was a good discussion of the Shiite vs. Sunni conflict, the hatred towards America, the overthrowing of the Shah, the oil economy, key cities there, the universities in Iran, student culture and social morals there. They have some beautiful mosques there.

Oh! history and the documentaries. I can watch them forever, the travelogues, religious ones, doomsday conspiracies, nature and wildlife, art, sci-fiction and what not!!! It is a time that I feel as never wasted.

14 comments:

zeno said...

One small quick question?
பொறுமை இருக்கறதுனால இது எல்லாம் பாக்க முடியுதா? இல்ல இது எல்லாம் பாக்கறதுனால உங்களுக்கு பொறுமை அதிகமா இருக்கா? :)

Srivats said...

Thats pretty interesting, u must be like Ross of FRIENDS :) having said that, I too watch documentries , but mostly to do with travel, cooking or sci fi / paranormal stuffs . Or sometimes I watch other kinds too tahts when I am too lazy to pick up the remote to change the channel ;)

gils said...

dbl repeeet for zeno kostin :D :D i will start watching such program and halfway wud realise that there is another useless program running in someother channel at same time and wud switch into that :D :D

Swaram said...

Time never wasted indeed .. sounds really interesting :)
I hv read and heard a lot abt mosques in Iran too .. shud watch out for a similar pgm sometime :)

RamMmm said...

@zeno-:-D இப்படியெல்லாம் கேள்வி கேக்கக்கூடாது. :-D Maybe, both, and more of the first part.

@Srivats-:-) That is a nice simile, comparing me to Ross :-) I cannot stand most of the usual programmes these days. I am better off with a documentary, if allowed to. Something for the brain to use at some point in time. I find those UFO theories fascinating, but all the time my intuition says these are all dreamt up or cultist. :-)

@gils-:-) Mostly I don't get the remote to watch. கிடைச்சா I see some of these. கொஞ்சம் மூளைக்கும் சாப்பாடு போடலாமேன்னுதான். :-)

RamMmm said...

@Swaram-Sometimes you need to have patience to sit through it. I find most of the documentaries stark and interesting, but some are dull too.

Those mosques looked really beautiful. Nice colored stone, very intricate artwork designs (obviously no visualizations as Islam doesn't believe in it)

chennaigirl said...

Actually, after reading ur post, odane oru documentary paarkanum pola irukku. Its like childs ambition plan illa, immediately after watching a dr movie, they would want to become a doctor, police officier after watching a crime thriller.

RamMmm said...

These days, they are rare. I have not seen any on the Tamizh mainline channels. :-( There are some which come on the news channels, Discovery and NatGeo. Some of them are really worth it.

வீட்டுல remote control உங்க கிட்ட இருந்தா you can always see. :-) P may not allow you. :-)

R-ambam said...

Hey , u should watch nature on PBS.
Nobody denies it in the home..
Awesome !

RamMmm said...

@R-ambam-I am on a short visit into the US and doing random jumps on Comcast in my free time depending on what the channel guide says is playing at that moment.

I quickly ran through the PBS web portal. Some of the videos look amazing. I've to sit sometime and see if I can see it.

Annam said...

boss aanaalum ungalukku porumai +arivu pasi jasthi ....ithelam nalalthuku illa aama solliputtaen:)

RamMmm said...

@Annam-என்ன பயமுறுத்தறீங்களா? :-D நாங்க இதுக்கெல்லாம் அசர மாட்டோம்ல. :-)

Ramesh said...

Totally share your interest - I too can watch documentaries endlessly. That's one swell documentary you have reviewed.

RamMmm said...

@Ramesh-Yep, that is a nice pastime, if I am permitted to do so. I have pulls from 3 directions. :-)