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Updated: June 18, 2012 20:06 IST

Voices from the silent zone

ISHA PURKAYASTHA
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HARDENED BY CIRCUMSTANCES Never to give up
HARDENED BY CIRCUMSTANCES Never to give up

TV Discovery Channel's documentary series, Extraordinary Women, have stories of amazing women, who changed their lives with their conviction

History is a potent force. It privileges some voices over others and manipulates memory. History is a celebration of this memory, the most underrated force in the world. It is this memory of those who have lived before us and the world that we have inherited from them that allows us to locate ourselves in a moment in time and to consolidate our identity.

History, as we understand it, is a victor's tale. Nevertheless, there are silences and stories from the margins. The Discovery Channel, in a series of documentaries called “Extraordinary Women”, empowers the voices of certain inspirational women who battled adversities to emerge triumphant in a world ravaged by two devastating wars that left few nations unscathed.

Coco Chanel, the creator of the timeless Little Black Dress and the face of a fashion empire, needs no introduction. Founder, spearhead and an industry in herself, Coco Chanel revolutionised the world of fashion. The story of her life is an anecdote in courage, resourcefulness, determination and ambition. Coco Chanel is a girl with modest beginnings who went on to become the woman who liberated women from their corsets. In doing so, she did much more than just change the way women dressed; she destroyed the image of the woman as an ornament and fashioned a new one — the working woman. Discovery Channel's poignant documentary narrates the story of Chanel's life, loves and choices with rare sensitivity, bringing to life a controversial figure whose impoverished beginnings filled her with the determination to succeed.

Audrey Hepburn, Hollywood legend and fashion icon, led nothing short of an inspirational life. Born in the politically volatile years between the two World Wars, Hepburn's childhood was anything but a cakewalk. Malnourished and broken but optimistic and salvaged from the jaws of death as a young girl; Hepburn had seen a lot of hardship. A member of the Dutch Resistance since she was 13, she went on to become Broadway's showstopper and Hollywood's most wanted. Disappointed in love and destroyed by unfulfilled dreams of motherhood, this documentary is a motivating account of a legend who was, at the end of the day, a humanitarian and a hero.

Extraordinary Women achieves what few other documentaries manage. The series proves through example that the extraordinary is in all of us — the likes of Chanel and Hepburn, hardened by circumstances and by virtue of their indomitable will tapped into their ability to be extraordinary and conquered the world. Well narrated and gripping, the documentaries provide an account of the lives of successful women from fields that include fashion, cinema, politics, philanthropy, technology and activism. Amongst the innumerable women that left their indelible mark on history, Discovery Channel brings to you Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel, Agatha Christie, Maria Montessori and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, amongst others.

Extraordinary Women premieres tonight and will be aired every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Discovery Channel.

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