TELLING THE STORY OF THE BIRTH OF A NATION IS NEVER EASY: SHYAM BENEGAL
Mumbai:21st Feb, 2014: “Telling the story of the birth of a nation is never easy. Especially if that nation is as big and diverse as India,” says Shyam Benegal about ‘Samvidhaan – The Making of the Constitution of India’. “Our founding fathers took 2 years 11 months and 17 days to frame our constitution. The story of telling how they did this has nearly taken us that much time.”
Samvidaan is a 10 part mini-series produced by Rajya Sabha Television that will go on air beginning March 2 at 10 AM every Sunday. Written by Shama Zaidi and Atul Tiwari from a concept by Rajya Sabha Television, the series stars Sachin Khedekar as Dr B R Ambedkar, Neeraj Kabi as Mahatma Gandhi, Dalip Tahil as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Utkarsh Majumdar as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Gupta as Dr Rajendra Prasad, Tom Alter as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Rajeshwari as Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Narendra Jha as Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Divya Dutta as Shrimati Purnima Benerji and Ila Arun as Hansa Mehta among 150 others in the series.
“India is the largest democracy in the world. It has more language and ethnic groups than any other nation. Despite the diversity and its many contradictions, India has travelled a great deal as a nation. It is the Constitution of India that created the framework for a strong, vibrant and progressive nation. The inspiring story of the making of our constitution has never been attempted before. At Rajya Sabha Television our endeavour is to create programs that document contemporary history of Independent India. ‘Samvidhaan’ (the making of the Constitution of India) was a natural progress in this journey,” says Gurdeep Singh Sappal, CEO Rajya Sabha Television who have produced the series.
After more than a year and a half of extensive research during which the writing also commenced, Samvidhaan went on the floor in August 2013. After over two months of shooting at Film City, Mumbai where the set of a replica of the Central Hall of Parliament was constructed. The action shifted to the Parliament House in New Delhi where for three weeks the crew shot extensively on its premises – for the first time that this has been allowed.
Mr. Benegal also said, “Samvidhaan is not really a 10 part series. It is a 10 hour long film. Since it was impossible to tell this story in the two or three hours duration of a cinema film, the format of a mini-series for television was the only alternative. The execution, the camera work, the look and feel of it is entirely cinematic.”
“Before independence we had a feudal, hierarchical and divisive society. To root that out by looking into the future to build a constitution that can last hundreds of years was I think the greatest achievement of these 300 odd men and women who worked on the constitution and Samvidhaan is their story,” said writer Shama Zaidi.
Co-writer Atul Tiwari who also essays the important role of Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant says, “It was a challenge to design the story of the designing of a nation. But we are all proud of the way this series has turned out. It is a landmark not only in Indian television, but is an important milestone in the recounting of democratic history of the world. This is a story that has the potential to inspire people around the world.”
Sachin Khedekar who plays Dr B R Ambedkar said, “It was a privilege to play the role of a man who is known as the father of the Constitution. But it was perhaps the most challenging role of my life. What I found most exciting is that what Ambedkar and others said in the constituent assembly, continues to be relevant till date. Essaying the role was hence a real delight.”
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is being played by Dalip Tahil, for the second time in his career. He said, “I had to loose weight for the role. I had to be like Nehru, think like Nehru. It was a challenge, but it has also been a big high to play a man who was an ideologist yet was practical enough to lay the foundation of a modern India. We talk of development today, but the man who not only showed India, but the world how to develop a nation quickly, was Pandit Nehru.”
Neeraj Kabi who plays Gandhi said, “It had always been a lifelong dream as an actor, to work with Shyam Benegal. That I got to do by essaying Mahatma Gandhi is the icing on the cake. It is fascinating to know that though Gandhi never even visited the Constituent Assembly, his gentle spirit guided the constitution. His greatest contribution was that he insisted on having Ambedkar in the constituent assembly.”
A special 23 minute curtain raiser was shown to the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and the members of both houses of the Parliament today. This special capsule was simultaneously shown on Rajya Sabha TV today as members of both houses watched Shyam Benegal’s TV venture after 25 years.
CREW OF SAMVIDHAAN:
Director: SHYAM BENEGAL
Executive Producer: GURDEEP SINGH SAPPAL
Associate Director: DAYAL NIHALANI
Director of Photography:AKASHDEEP PANDEY
Music: SHANTANU MOITRA
Script & Dialogue: SHAMA ZAIDI, ATUL TIWARI
Art Directors: CHETAN PATHAK, LEELA CHANDA
Editor: ASEEM SINHA
CAST OF SAMVIDHAAN:
NEERAJ KABI as Mahatma Gandhi
DALIP TAHILRAMANI as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
SACHIN KHEDEKAR as Dr B R Ambedkar
NARENDRA N JHA as Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
UTKARSH MAZUMDAR as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
RAJENDRA GUPTA as Dr Rajendra Prasad
RAJESHWARI SACHDEV as Rajkumari Amrit Kaur
TOM ALTER as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
KENNY DESAI as Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee
DIVYA DUTTA as Srimati Purnima Banerji
DEEPIKA AMIN as Srimati Renuka Ray
K K RAINA as Dr K M Munshi
RAJIT KAPUR as Shri Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar
ILA ARUN as Srimati Hansa Mehta
PARESH GANATRA as Prof K T Shah
HIMANI SHIVPURI as Begum Aijaz Rasul
Anchor: SWARA BHASKAR