Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal seeks to create awareness about the Indian Constitution through ‘Samvidhaan’

After making unparalleled films like Ankur, Manthan and Nishant, veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal now seeks to create awareness among the public, especially the youth, about the Indian Constitution.

Mr. Benegal has directed the mini-series Samvidhaan: The Making of the Indian Constitution airing on Rajya Sabha channel.

Mr. Benegal, who did Masters in Economics from Hyderabad’s Osmania University, decided to do a methodical research before embarking on this project.

“As I was in the Rajya Sabha for six years, I used my membership to productive use by going through various books on the making of the Indian Constitution in the Parliament House library. While doing my graduation, I studied political science, economics and literature. Despite all this, I re-read the Constitution and went through different books preserved in our archives.”

Interestingly, it was Vice-President Hamid Ansari, also the Rajya Sabha Chairman, who came up with the idea that a mini-series on the making of the historic Constitution needs to be made.

“It was Mr. Ansari’s idea that a series explaining how the Constitution was evolved be made. We have gone into the politics of that era. Telling the story of the birth of a nation is never easy, especially if that nation is as big and diverse as India. It took two years, 11 months and 17 days to frame our Constitution.”

Pointing out that three epoch-making movements were significant in the interim period before the Constitution was adopted, Mr. Benegal said firstly, the country got segregated into two.

“Two nations were born. Soon, Mahatma Gandhi was killed by an assassin at the Birla House. A few months later, M.A. Jinnah, the creator of Pakistan, died.”

The debates in the run-up to the drafting of the Constitution were intellectually stimulating.

But the filmmaker has decided not to use the original voice of leaders like the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Azad and Sardar Patel.

“I have used actors who fitted the part. Since Tom Alter is fluent in Urdu and has played the Maulana in various plays, I roped him to play the role of the stalwart.”

To rope in an actor who could look and behave like B. R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution, the filmmaker contacted Sachin Khedekar, an experienced film and television actor, to play the part.

“As I had expected, Sachin has adapted himself beautifully to play the role of Ambedkar. Similarly, Dalip Tahil is playing Nehru. Dalip had acted in my first feature film Ankur but his role had to be chopped in order to reduce the length of the film. He is a brilliant actor.”

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