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Rediff.com  » News » Telling the story of the birth of a nation is never easy: Shyam Benegal

Telling the story of the birth of a nation is never easy: Shyam Benegal

February 20, 2014 21:32 IST

“Telling the story of the birth of a nation is never easy. Especially if that nation is as big and diverse as India,” said Shyam Benegal about ‘Samvidhaan -- The Making of the Constitution of India’.

“Our founding fathers took two 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,” he said.

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 Sachdev 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

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 FilmCity, Mumbai where the set of a replica of the Central Hall of Parliament was constructed.

The action shifted to Parliament House in New Delhi where for three weeks the crew shot extensively on its premises -- the first time that this has been allowed.

Benegal 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.”