It’s an unfortunate truth that most of us would find history books boring and would rarely touch them. So, as a temporary measure, during our student life, we were asked to watch a series called ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’. However, when the Internet entered our homes, we came to know that this creation of Nehru too was ill-researched. Disappointed? Please don’t be. Doordarshan has decided to launch an antidote.
Doordarshan to show real Indian history
According to a report by News18, as a part of its new content acquisition policy, Doordarshan will soon be broadcasting a TV series Swaraj based on India’s recent history. It will be a series comprising 75 high-quality episodes. The series will showcase India’s history from the time when Portugal invader Vasco De Gama landed at Calicut. The last episode will describe the events unfolding on the eve of India’s political independence from the Britishers in 1947.
The series named Swaraj will be commemorating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsava. Under this initiative, the Modi government is celebrating 75 years of independence. The occasion is being used as an opportunity to give fitting tribute to unsung heroes of Indian history. The Swaraj series has also been filmed on the same line. It will be highlighting lesser-known heroes and historical stories of nearly 450 years time frame between 1498 to 1947.
A source quoted by News18 said, “It will document stories of how the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and the British came to India during this period and instances of how India fought back on several occasions. The series will be of high quality and at par with content aired by top online curated content platforms. Over Rs 50 crores will be spent in making it.”
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Swaraj Series to replace Bharat Ek Khoj?
The announcement came as a relief for those who want the actual truth to be shown on the screen. From the last few decades, a minor section of Indian academics has been fighting for real history of India to be told to everyone. But, their voices went unheard for a very long time. It meant that in spite of everyone having access to full historical texts, Bharat Ek Khoj remained the ultimate authentic source of India’s history for most of Indians.
The series based on Nehru’s personal interpretation of Indian history was directed, written and produced by Shyam Benegal. It worked as a crisp source of information for a lazy population which did not want to delve deep into the subject. Additionally, artistic brilliance in which Nehru’s views were presented made up for aesthetic view. In fact, to make it sound more authentic, Shyam Benegal chose to use Nehru as a narrator, who is explaining his ideas to common public.
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The background music comprising Rigveda verse added another layer of credence to the series. It drew huge praises from every section of the film fraternity and got only positive reviews. Even to this day, it has 9/10 ratings on IMDB.
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Problem with Bharat Ek Khoj
As we know, everything which glitters is not gold. The series has its fair share of criticism as well. The series added a degree of legitimacy to the Aryan invasion theory which was anti-scientific and was not based on any evidence. Even Bhimrao Ambedkar had rejected this theory. The next major problem with the Shyam Benegal series was that it did not give enough screen space to actual Indian heroes. The series proclaimed that it is built on the history of Bharatvarsh. That means, it must encompass at least 5,000 years of history.
Now, Mughals’ full scale rule on Indian territory was for only about 185 years. But, Benegal found them worthy of dedicating 8 episodes out of total 53. By no logical standards can anyone justify this gross negligence of Indian history. Additionally, Nehru being a politician who was brought up in an anglicised environment also sucked up a few degrees of credibility from the authenticity of the series. For many, Nehru’s version of Indian history was influenced by British writings. English writers wrote Indian history in such a way so that it would help them to justify their rule on India.
At the end of the day, Bharat Ek Khoj ended up creating more confusion for the masses. Generations grew up on the lie that invaders were messiahs. It is absurd and false. No country can live peacefully with the burden of false history. Doordarshan’s new Swaraj series is expected to pave the way for a new wave of discourse for future generations.