Friday, March 13, 2009

India on the move

For those of you in Canada or with access to CBC, please watch an exciting series 'India Reborn' on March 15, and March 22, 8 pm.

It's a 4-part series, and I worked on the episode 'India on the move', as the Indian producer. After a long, long time, I did documentary work that was purely journalistic in its approach. It helped that I was working with hard-core veterans, Neil Docherty and Sarah Spinks, idealistic, fire-brand producers rarely encountered in present-day television. A lot of television programming now is 'reality TV' in one form or the other.

For me, it was a personal challenge, as for a long time, I had been working on shows that hovered around Bollywood or Mumbai. I wanted to be a part of the episode on the economy, a subject I hadn't much thought about before this in an academic way.

It was a mad time of flight-hopping, huge treks through the countryside on bumpy roads, travel, travel and more travel, stories of extreme wealth and extreme poverty. But what came with the sense of sadness at so much that is wrong, was also an immense sense of pride. As Sarah rightly says on the website,

"This is a hard-working country that has continually confounded the predictors of gloom"

For more on the series, check out the CBC's website

here.

11 comments:

Space Bar said...

will they put it up on their site after the telecast is done? ask them to, no?

Banno said...

I think so.

bollyviewer said...

Ooooo I'll definitely look out for it.

bawa said...

Sounds most interesting. Do you know if someone offers the channel on internet?

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Echoing Bawa- or maybe theyll show it here.

writerzblock said...

Wow! That's fantastic. Will it be available on Youtube too?

memsaab said...

It looks fascinating :) I might have to buy the DVDs!

See you soon :)

Unmana said...

Hey, that sounds awesome! How can the rest of us see it?

And you've been tagged: http://www.unmana.com/2009/03/work.html

shankari said...

Went all where the link took me.

Want to see more.

And ya, so glad for you this is on CBC.

bawa said...

I have read all the info on the site. And I am a bit sad that it seems to have gone the way of most documentaries made on India: the extremely rich and extremely poor (both of which of course exist).
But I think the vast changes that have come to many people in the middle are never reflected. I will try and put it this way: my brother said that in his office most people would be earning enough to own bicycles and perhaps some scooters and a std of living to correspond. Today most of them are able to afford cars, go out, have holidays.
Second e.g. when I was trekking in Himachal Pradesh I often came across groups of children on paths to and from remote villages. On talking to one such group of young ladies descending hundreds of metres from a village with no vehicular road to it, they revealed they were doing their "+2" in th valley; there seemed to be more Science students and a lot of them were planning to do a Bachelor's in Kullu. A similar story when we were deviated from the main road in Rajasthan.
And story of Lijjat women who were semi-illiterate and worked as from kids, but who now as adults work and send their own kids to school. The millions of working people and farmers in India who are not the richest farmers or owners of airlines.
While I do think it is legitimate and interesting to show these contrasts, and the absolute plight of the poorest cannot be talked about too often, one comes away from these feeling their no-one India who makes a living from being a school-teacher, an office-worker, a factory-worker, an accountant, a shopkeeper and dozens of other occupations that are an important part of any economy.
To compare, all the documentaries I have seen this year on China, focus on Shanghai, Beijing and the middle-classes enjoying improved standards of living, plus a few ultra rich thrown in. All the ones on India have been on Sadhus & Fakirs in Varanasi, cremations, slums in Bombay, farmers in extreme poverty, some Bollywood & also a few of the ultra-rich. For some reason it is also never mentioned that Budhism/Budha is also Indian.

Am waiting to see the rest of the episodes and see what happens.

Banno said...

Yes, everybody, the docs will be online soon, and I'll post the link.

Bawa, what you say is fair enough.I cannot speak for the other episodes, but I do know that in our episode, we have tried to do the middle-class stories as well, the increase in holiday resorts (slated to be the next biggest industry) due to a prosperous middle class, educating construction workers and other labourers' children, young IT professionals at Infosys.

That said, what does remain striking are the contrasts, unfortunately. And those are what make for "good television". I have to see the episodes myself (waiting for the DVDs) and so yes, more later.