When you think of India, what comes to your mind? Is it the rich and vibrant culture full of great history and tradition? Or is the breathtaking landscapes and monuments that can rival against some of the most beautiful places on the planet? India sure is a fascinating place, that never seems to stop amazing us. The largest democracy in the world has been around for a long time, it is reported that the first modern humans, or Homo sapiens, had arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa, almost 55 thousand years ago. And the country now boasts home to 1.3 Billion people of different cultures and beliefs. One of the best ways to know or learn more about a subject is by watching documentary films. These films provide tremendous information and are intriguing to watch. There have been several documentaries about India and its varied history, in this article, we will be taking a look at some of the best documentaries that you should watch if you are looking to learn more about India and its History.
The Story of India
The Story of India is a BBC documentary series, written and presented by historian Michael Wood. In this six-part series, Michael Wood takes us on a journey from the lost ancient cities of the Indus Valley Civilization to India’s struggle to gain freedom over the British rule. Each particular episode focuses on a single topic and goes into great detail regarding India’s rich history. Michael Wood does a terrific job of presenting India and its history to the viewers, and you can clearly see the level of research that had gone into every topic. The series is presented beautifully, with stellar cinematography and necessary information. Wood carefully takes into consideration all of the historical aspects and viewpoints of India and manages to paint a true and honest picture of the country. You are going to be hooked right from the start, and all the episodes manage to cover a ton load of information, without overburdening the viewer. Wood’s poetic style of storytelling adds a certain artistic style to the episode, and make them much more engaging and entertaining to watch. If you are someone who is fascinated by India and its history, then The Story of India is the best way to learn more about this fascinating country.
India Untouched: Stories of a People Apart
This 2007 documentary by Stalin K reveals the discrimination and inequality faced by Dalits and the practice of untouchability in different parts of India. The documentary covers one of the most jarring issues still faced in modern India. Untouchability and the treatment of Dalits in villages and rural areas. India Untouched is an eye-opener and reveals the harsh reality that the Dalits face on a daily basis. This is one of those documentaries that is heart wrenching and hard to watch because of the subjects that it covers. Stalin k travelled for 4 years across India to capture the caste system which rules all over India, and he manages to leave no stone unturned as he showcases the inequality that the Dalit students face, from being made to clean toilets, to having to walk barefoot while passing through upper caste society. What makes the documentary even more powerful, is that it covers different perspectives, and we get to see the thinking of the saints, teachers, students and Dalits.
The World Before Her
Written and directed by Nisha Pahuja, The World Before Her is a 2012 Canadian documentary that explores the lives of two young women in contemporary India. One who aspires to become Miss India, and the other, who is a Hindu nationalist. Nisha Pahuja does a fantastic job of documenting two contrasting worlds through the eyes of two different women. What you get is a thought-provoking film, that will leave you with more questions than answers. The film shows you two very different worlds, yet manages to showcase how similar they are when it comes to the society that we live in. The insights given about Indian society are a real eyeopener and will leave in shock and disbelief. The World Before Her also goes into great detail about the fashion industry and the Hindu extremists and reveals some shocking facts and ugly truths of these groups.
Children of the Pyre
This 2008 Documentary directed by Rajesh S. Jala, tells the story of seven children who cremate dead bodies and steal cremation shrouds at India’s largest crematorium, Manikarnika. Rajesh S. Jala shot over 100 hours of footage at the crematorium and surrounding sites, which includes several interviews with the seven children, as they discuss their difficult life cremating dead bodies and stealing shrouds from the bodies brought to the crematorium and reselling them to merchants for a small fee. Children of the Pyre is an extremely well-made documentary that covers several heavy issues like child labour, poverty, drugs, cremation etc. One of the great things about the film is that despite its heavy tone, Jala manages to keep the film a little light-hearted by asking smart questions, which will often have you smiling. While there might be light-hearted moments in the film, do not be surprised, because the Children of the Pyre in no way is a feel-good movie, it is honest, brutal and heartbreaking. The cinematography of the film is simply stunning, and it stays true to the theme and tone of the film. Add to it the stellar sound design, and Children of the Pyre is a heart-wrenching story, that will leave in a thought-provoking state long after the credits roll.
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