Sunday, 4 November 2018

Raja Rao - Kanthapura - Bharat Ek Khoj

Raja Rao's Kanthapura - Televised by Shyam Benegal

Bharat Ek Khoj—The Discovery of India A Production of Doordarshan, the Government of India’s Public Service Broadcaster Episode 49: And Gandhi Came, Part I With Shabana Azmi as Rangamma, Om Puri as Patel Range Gowda, Ila Arun as Gangamma, Savita Bajaj as Venkamma, Pallavi Joshi as Ratna, Virendra Saxena as Rachanna, Piyush Mishra as Murthy, Irfan Khan as Bade Khan, Sudhir Kulkarni as Bhatt, and Bhavana Mukativala as Radhamma. Playback by Chandrakant Kale, Ranjana Joglekar, Jolly Mukherjee, Pankaj Mitra, Anand Kumar, and Shobha Joshi Excerpts from Kanthapura by Raja Rao. Nehru notes that when World War I started, politics in India was at a low ebb. This was chiefly because of the split in the Congress between two sections, the radicals and the moderates, and also because of wartime restrictions and regulations. And then Gandhi came. He was like a powerful current of fresh air that made Indians stretch themselves and take deep breaths. He seemed to emerge from the millions of India, speaking their language and incessantly drawing attention to their appalling condition. The sprawling photographs of Gandhi illustrate how he entered the Congress and made it a democratic, mass organisation. The peasants rolled in and the Congress assumed the look of a vast agrarian organ with a strong sprinkling of the middle class. Industrial workers too came in as individuals. The ensuing drama draws from the episodes of Raja Rao’s novel, Kanthapura, that is embedded in those traumatic times. Even the traditional Harikatha gatherings are redolent with the consciousness that Mahatma Gandhi has newly instilled. Gandhi is depicted as the new incarnation of Vishnu who has come to rid the British oppression. There is resistance to provide accommodation to the newly-posted village-official, symptomatic of the troubled times. The word spreads on the efficacy of spinning thread daily by the Charkha (spinning wheel) and the message of assimilating the Achhoots (the untouchables) is driven in against the prevailing notions of community discrimination. Like many a village in India, Kanthapura is agog with Gandhian spirit. The protagonists Kashinath and Murthy, and even the village women Rangamma and Ratna, are involved in lively debates on the socio-political issues, in the face of the police antagonism. Murthy, the staunch Gandhian, undertakes a 3-day fast for self-purification, barring a daily drink of three glasses of water. The villagers, including the Patel, commiserate with him, but Murthy, drawing his inspiration from Gandhi’s many fasts, is adamant. We hear Gandhi’s favourite Ramdhun for congregational singing: Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram… Gandhi’s ideas of truth, love, divinity and non-violence are animatedly discussed, alongside the need for daily spinning of cotton yarn as an act of self- reliance for weaving hand-spun clothes. Amidst the spreading ethos of Charkha distribution, Murthy is arrested. Commenting on such far-reaching impact of Gandhi on the village folks, Nehru avers that this astonishingly vital man, full of self-confidence and an unusual kind of power, standing for equality and freedom of each individual but measuring all this in terms of the poorest, fascinated the masses of India and attracted them like a magnet. Producer Doordarshan Language Hindi Credits Uploaded by Public.Resource.Org Based on Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India With Roshan Seth as Jawaharlal Nehru Om Puri as the Narrator Produced and Directed by Shyam Benegal Chief Assistant Director was Mandeep Kakkar Executive Producer Raj Plus Script by Shama Zaldi and Sunil Shanbag A production of Doordarshan




 Part 2
Nehru notes that against the all-pervading fear amongst Indian people of the British Raj, Gandhi’s quiet and determined voice was raised, ‘Be not afraid’. Suddenly, the black pall of fear was lifted from the people’s shoulders. To the ordinary village folks, it made all the difference. The song picks up the refrain that the Congress would hereafter rule in the rural front and initiate Rama Raj by abolishing Ravana Raj of the aliens. While Murthy declines to appoint an advocate to plead for him, Rangamma’s visit to the town to look for a defence lawyer is in vain. She returns with the news that Murthy has been sentenced to a three-month imprisonment. Rangamma and Ratna now pick up the cudgel and begin organising the female front of volunteers after the model of Sarojini Naidu, Annie Besant and Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. They resolve not to fight back, even if beaten. There are mild protestations from the ilk of Narayan not to allow their female folk go in for public demonstrations. News comes that Murthy is released, but the nightmare is not over. The tidings of the Dundee March and Salt Satyagraha trickle in to enthuse the villagers no end. People decide to observe Maun (silence) to strengthen the Congress. There is tumultuous singing of another favourite Bhajan of Gandhi, by Narsinh Mehta: Vaishnavajanato Tene Kahiye… Further news trickles in that the police has lathi-charged the corps of volunteers at Mahatma’s prayer meeting. This only steels the people’s resolve not to pay tax and offer passive resistance. A new phenomenon is women taking out processions and picketing in front of liquor-shops to stop their men folk from alcoholism. The tax-evasion campaign takes an ugly turn, with the police auctioning off the landed property of the defaulters in Kanthapura. Women, under the guidance of the hiding men, put up resistance, but the police open indiscriminate fire killing many and injuring several. There is chaos now from a failed resistance, with people leaving Kanthapura en masse for Kashipura near Mysore and leaders like Murthy, Rangamma and Ratna imprisoned for six months. There is also news trickling in that at the apex, Nehru and Gandhi do not quite agree on non-violence. Nehru observes that, by 1930, Gandhi seemed, to his countrymen, able to link the past with the future and to make the present appear as a stepping-stone to the future of life and hope. Thus he affected a vast psychological revolution not only among those who followed his lead, but also among his opponents and those neutrals who were still ambivalent. Producer Doordarshan Language Hindi Credits Uploaded by Public.Resource.Org Based on Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India With Roshan Seth as Jawaharlal Nehru Om Puri as the Narrator Produced and Directed by Shyam Benegal Chief Assistant Director was Mandeep Kakkar Executive Producer Raj Plus Script by Shama Zaldi and Sunil Shanbag A production of Doordarshan

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