Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Story of India|
Actor: Michael Wood (Writer & Presenter)
Director: Jeremy Jeff
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Documentary
Sixty years after Indian independence, British historian Michael Wood presents the tale of the oldest and most diverse civilization, and largest democracy. A nuclear power and a rising giant, India's population will overta... more »
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The Wonder That Is India
MKM | Bronxville, NY USA | 01/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I must disclose two items - I am a big fan of Michael Wood and I am of Indian descent. I don't believe either of these color my review but both were my reasons for watching. Michael Wood is to History what Carl Sagan was to Science and Cosmology. His passion and interest in the subject matter may be viewed as overdone by some but I see it as sincere and therefore brings out the same in the audience. He is able to bring the story of 5000 years to life without leaving the present which is quite an accomplishment that has both to do with the filmmakers and India as both country and people.
The program was beautifully filmed and captures the voices of more than just the conventional academics that provide the commentary in many historical documentaries. The episodes on Asoka and Buddha are my favorites but all were easy to watch and taught me some or much that I had not already known. Some critics will call Wood's perspective as viewed through rose colored glasses. I would agree but I think that is by design and not meant to minimize much tragedy and depravity that has also occurred during the 5000 years. There are plenty of other resources that can provide that perspective.
"An Eye-Full of India"
R. Lee Hadden | Sterling, VA United States | 01/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although I have only seen the first two episodes, this is a wonderful production. I call it an "Eye-Full" because the photography of this production is so wonderful. The six hour series by Michael Wood is filled with verbal information, as well as gorgeous shots of the Indian landscape and towns. It traces the history of the sub-continent from 30,000 years ago to the present, discussing the exploration and settling of the country by the earliest immigrants, and the spread of languages and language groups over the region.
The second hour focused on the impact of religion on the land, including the impact of the Buddha, and the development of human rights on the country and the people.
I have not been back to India since 1983, but the series brought back memories that not only had I forgotten, but that I had forgotten I ever had them in the first place. A very enjoyable and informative series, and I highly recommend it."
Extensive Content but could have been lot better......, fall
Vijay | 02/25/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I appreciate the effort since not many in India would care to take such documentaries. However, I am not fully satisified with this DVD. Lot more useful information could have been shown in this duration of the documentary instead of several of the stuffs that I felt were really un-necessary. For example, the long search for the SOMA drink and attempting to taste it could have been avoided. Instead they could have spent more time on explaining the content of the Vedas. The Vedas have immense amount of philosophical views, scientifc contents, universal thoughts and indirect historical data embedded that could have all been explained instead of dramatizing how vedas would have been written.
In the Indus Valley episode details such as how Indus cities were planned, the excavated seals, bath houses, indus religion could all have been explained. There were some contradiciting information such as describing that Indus people were traders and used ships and boats to trade with Iraq and later in the episode of spice trade the author tells that Indians were not capable of ship building and just sold goods to merchants from Rome and Greeks.
Another contradiction occurs when Woods travels all the way to Turkmenistan to investiage the roots of Aryans. The Turkmenistan archaelogist concludes that the people who lived there migrated west after rivers dried. Soon after this, Woods gives his conclusion that people from this area migrated further south to Indian subcontinent. Wood explains that there is enough evidence in Rig Veda to show that Aryans came from outside of India, but does not really spell out any direct evidence from Rig Veda itself. He gives just examples like Horse sacrifice, Soma worship to proove that Sanskrit came from outside India, which I felt did not proove his point. He tells that Rig Veda talks about a river in Afghanistan as a proof for foreign origin of Aryans but he fails to talk about the very important river that Rig Veda speaks out so many times - River Saraswati. When he shows proof that Indus Valley existed on a dry river bed using satellite image, why should he not explain the possibility that this is the Saraswati river and Indus Valley is nothing but an extension of the Ancient Vedic Socieity.
I have to say that still not many historians want to explore the possibilty that Aryans could have went out of India at one point in history due to the same climatic change that the author explains here. On their way they could have stayed in Central Asia and migrated further to West Asia and further on. How can we explain the Mittani people of West Asia speaking Sanskrit and following precisely the Vedic gods?
RigVeda talks so much about Saraswati river and we can imagine how ancient RigVeda is if Saraswati River dried up long before 1500BC, the theoretical date that most historians place for migration of Aryans into India. All this could easily point out to the fact that Vedic civilization is indigineous to India and so is it's precious language, Sanskrit. Most western historians would say that this point is very Indo-centric view but the question is why not explore the possibilites...?
The DVD sometimes passes from one era to another without showing concrete data. Sadly, one of the main aspect of India, Hinduism, was not dealt in any detail at all. The essence of Hinduism and its philosphy were not dealt at all. Many of the sophisticated Indian arts such as the Indian classical music and dance forms were not described at all except for few minutes of explanation of Bharatanatyam. The Indian classical music and dance are so much sophisticated and deserve lot more attention.
India's contribution in field of mathematics, science, astronomy and yoga could have been explained in lot more details. More time could have been spent describing how ancient temples were built. India's influence on South East Asia could have been described as well, since there was a tremendous influence by Indian culture on countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia.
The extensive Indian literature in the fields of mythology, poetry, drama, science, technology, astronomy, mathematics were not dealt clearly, except for considering the major epics.
The first episode (Indus Valley, Vedic age and beginnings of Hinduism) covers the very important and foundation phase of Indian history and must have been more researched and well presented. I found this episode very superficial and still stuck with old faulty western view of Aryan migration into India!
I have to appreciate one thing definitely. I have seen several other programmes on India and none of them deal with South India. Usually it is just as if south India doesnt exist. This DVD does walk through South India a lot. But again, the author missed to show in detail the majestic south Indian temples and the architecture. The camera did not attempt to give a better glimpse of the beautiful temples. There were no mention of the abundant Tamil literature, the sophisticated Carnatic music and details of Bharthanatyam dance. Details of the major tamil kingdoms (except that Cholas were included) and other south Indian kingdoms such as Vijayanagar empire were not included when so much of the DVD goes in detailing foreign kings.
I might have put in lot of expectations in here, but a 6 hour DVD show could have easily been more informative instead of providing some of the unnecessary information. There were several instances in the documentary which just contained people walking on roads and trains moving, which could have all been replaced with some better informative scenes.
Finally I do appreciate the effort since no one in India makes such documentaries for Indian TV channels, which are filled with only commercial stuffs. But when there is an ability to make such extensive documentary, lot more research could have been done on the contents and could have included much more about India.
Fascinating Look at India
Partha S. Mohanram | New York, NY | 01/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen the first two episodes on PBS and was blown away. Wood is clearly an Indo-phile. You can see by his facial expressions and body language that he is blown away by the intricacies and depth of Indian history and culture.
My favorite part thus far - the fact that spice shops in Peshawar know exactly what Soma is. Soma is the "Rig-Vedic" elixir for the gods. No one in India today probably knows anything about it.
Another thing I really like, as an Indian, is that this is a history of all of India, including parts which are now Pakistan and played an integral role in the development of Indian civilization. The parts about the Indus Valley (Harappa and Mohenjodaro) were awe inspiring - like the earlier reviewer - this is stuff I learnt about in static history books 25 years ago - to see it in moving video was .... moving."