TV Series: Samvidhaan – The Making of the Constitution of India

Although the freedom movement which lasted for almost a century (starting from the Indian Rebellion of 1857) with the sole purpose of “Indian Independence” was one of the greatest & most challenging chronicles of modern India, an equally (if not lesser) challenging event was the framing of Constitution, the purpose of which was to “Lay the right foundation for independent India”.
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Yes, it was indeed one of the most challenging, but underrated tasks carried out by our legends, and unfortunately this achievement does not find a prominent place in school history books, except for a mention of the fact that the constitution came into force on 26th January 1950. Depending on the state in which the history textbook is printed, or depending on which party is in power when the textbook is printed, there might even be a subtle propaganda that our Constitution was single handedly written by Dr BR Ambedkar.

During my childhood, I was also a victim of such a political propaganda, and I was under the impression that Dr BR Ambedkar, sitting in his library-cum-home, wrote hundreds of pages of rights, duties, clauses, articles etc, which eventually were consolidated and released by him as “Constitution of India” on 26th January 🙂

With the advent of internet & social media, most of my belief was shattered & I had to literally “unlearn” most of what I had learnt in school textbooks. Imagine what my reaction would have been when I found that the Constitution of India was a result of 165 intense live debates in the assembly, participated by more than 300 visionary representatives for over 4 years!!
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Thanks to the diversified set of members from all parts of India, each representing not only a certain region, but also a certain religion, linguistic, culture, caste, gender etc, the final draft of the Constitution was highly refined to be able to cater to the interests of all Indians.

If you are interested in reading all the debates in detail, you can find them in the national archive here:
http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/debates/debates.htm

However, since not everyone might have the time & patience to read through thousands of pages of text, Rajya Sabha TV hit upon the idea of producing a television serial (in Hindi) which could capture the essence of the making of our constitution, and the result was the serial “Samvidhaan: The Making of the Constitution of India”.

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Directed by none other than the veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal, it spans across 10 episodes of 1 hour each, dramatizing the debates, hosted & narrated by Swara Bhaskar.

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What makes this really interesting is that the actors appear so close to the original looks & behavior that it might actually give you a feeling that you have actually gone back in time and are watching the debates live from the gallery.

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The filmmaker, through this serial, has not only captured the essence of the making of the Constitution, but also taken great pains to ensure that it does not end up becoming just a monotonous documentary film, by including background narrations whenever relevant to help the viewer understand the context, along with several anecdotes as well which had made the constituent assembly lively, and a few of them might evoke laughter even within a serious audience.

By the time the viewer finishes watching the 10th episode, he/she would not only be enriched with the knowledge of how our Constitution was framed, but also might appreciate the challenges which our nation builders had to face & overcome, to eventually lay a strong foundation for Sovereign Democratic Republic India.

Yes, the word “Secular” was never mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. In the 10th episode of this series, it is depicted that the Constituent Assembly had debated on the concept of Secularism, but finally our nation builders chose not to include it in the Constitution, due to a lack of clear definition. It was only in the mid 1970s that the word “Secular” without a clear definition, was hurriedly included into our Constitution during Emergency under Indira Gandhi, and even today, no Govt has been able to clearly define what “Secular” really means.

Coming back to the serial, although the knowledge gained by watching this 10-episode serial might not match that of the thousands of pages of detailed texts, it does an excellent job of giving an overview of the Constituent Assembly’s intense debates & the challenges they had to face, and one must credit the filmmaker for his meticulous direction, attention to detail and the brilliance in capturing the essence of making of the Constitution in just 10 episodes.

You can find all the 10 episodes on YouTube at the following playlist link:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVOgwA_DiGzoFR3j1mSGn5Z_OQLxgodQi

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