Shyam Benegal debates the Indian Constitution

Sep 24, 2013, 04:57 IST | KANIKA SHARMA

Respected filmmaker Shyam Benegal will bring Samvidhaan, the epic 10-part miniseries on the Constitution of India, to television in January 2014 on Rajya Sabha TV Channel

For a while now, critics have cited that Indian television needs a new lease of life. Maker of the gargantuan series, Bharat: Ek Khoj (based on Jawaharlal Nehru’s epic Discovery Of India) -- Shyam Benegal, is set to metamorphose the idiot box by January, 2014. Based on the making of the Constitution of India, the septuagenarian will recreate the debates that underwent into making the longest constitution in the sovereign world.

Shyam Benegal with Sachin Khedekar on the sets of Samvidhaan, the miniseries

Benegal shares on how the 10-part miniseries, Samvidhaan, became his next project after the feature film, Well Done Abba! “I had been wanting to do it for long but the original inspiration came from the Vice President of our country, Mr Hamid Ansari, who is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, where I was a member for six years. I thought it would be such a good idea as very few of us really know what India’s democratic Constitution is, and I think it was necessary for us to understand that.”

After an approximate gap of 25 years, Benegal stresses that television was the apt choice for the series, “The best way to do this is through television. If you see, study/read the proceedings of all the debates that took place in the central hall of parliament in the constituent assembly from December 1946 to November 1949, you will notice that those debates were exciting and told a marvellous story of how we created our constitution.”

Emphasising on how the topic will be universal, he reasons, “It is important for us to remember our Constitution because that is what we live by -- those are the rules of our social and political life and also the kind of status we enjoy as an individual in our society. It was relevant yesterday, is today and will be tomorrow.”

Benegal divulges on things to look out for: “All major debates are incredible ones. In particular, I would think that the most exciting part would be the ones with Nehru, Ambedkar himself, Sardar Patel -- all our great founding fathers as well as little-known people whose contribution was significant.”

Uncannily, Benegal’s father’s cousin, Sir Benegal Narsing Rau was one who was seminal to the formulation of the significant document, he reveals, “I was impressed with him as a person but I didn’t meet him because he was even older than my father. But I knew of him as the first draft of the constitution was written by him.”

Cast for Samvidhaan
Sachin Khedekar (BR Ambedkar), Dalip Tahil Ramani (Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru), Tom Alter, Rajendra Gupta, KK Raina, Rajit Kapur, Harish Patel, Anjan Srivastava, Mohit Chauhan, Ila Arun, Utkarsh Majumdar, Divya Datta, Rajeshwari Sachdev and Kennith Desai.