An average reader would not want to spend his or her time reading a 300-page book on the history of a bank. But, what if it’s a docu-fiction on the history of a bank, done in a fairly informative manner.
The Living Legend, a 55-minute film on the history of the State Bank of India (SBI) produced by its Kozhikode branch in connection with the bank’s 150 anniversary, tells with the help of engaging visuals, documents, and edifying narration how the bank took birth and evolved over a period of one-and-a-half century, participating, at the same time, in the development of a region.
It starts by stating how coffee became the British India’s maiden export commodity to the Europium countries and how the need for a professional banking set-up emerged from the existing control of local moneylenders in Kerala, especially in the Malabar region which was under the erstwhile Madras presidency.
With help of economic historians, researchers, and scholars studying the regional history, former and present officials of the bank, the filmmaker has successfully touched upon a whole range of historical events that the bank had stood witness to since it came into being in Kochi in 1862 and in Kozhikode in 1863 as regional branches of The Bank of Madras, one of the three presidency banks in the country.
Then it narrates the entire history of the bank to its present form as a mammoth organisation with 15,000 branches in the country.
Pradeep Gopal, a Kozhikode-based filmmaker, has pulled off an engaging piece of docu-fiction, which can be cited as a dependable commentary on the history of one of the premier financial institutions of the country.
Instead of casually mentioning the important milestones in the history of the bank in a chronological order, the director with the help of a substantial script has imaginatively attempted to find out the crucial “why’s and how’ in the evolution process of the banking institution.
The commentaries and experience shared by economic historians such as Amiya Kumar Bagchi and prominent literary figures like M.T. Vasudevan Nair have made the work academically sound and artistically appealing.