The Telegraph
Wednesday , May 16 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Constitution series for TV

New Delhi, May 15: Offensive cartoons? Get reel.

Rajya Sabha TV, the official channel of Parliament’s Upper House, has commissioned a project to show on film the process of making the Indian Constitution.

A senior official with the channel said filmmaker Shyam Benegal would make the 10-part mini series.

The go-ahead for the project, pending for almost a year, came barely days after a cartoon showing Jawaharlal Nehru purportedly whipping B.R. Ambedkar to hurry up with preparing the Indian Constitution created a furore in Parliament.

Benegal, who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2006, confirmed that the contract had been signed.

“The contract was signed yesterday for a 10-part mini series for airing on Rajya Sabha TV. The idea is to show the processes involved in the making of the Constitution and to highlight the fact that it is an extraordinary document that needed time and patience to create,” he said.

Asked if he had been given a deadline, he said: “Films like these can’t have a deadline. This is a film that comes with immense responsibility as it will be a part of history once it is finished and aired. It will be quoted in the future.”

The filmmaker said the cartoon controversy, which forced an apology from a minister, had not affected him. “The controversy doesn’t affect me at all. It took them time from December 1946 to December 1949 to thrash out ideas, listen to debates and formulate laws that defined what kind of a nation India would be…. It echoes the principles that we should live by. It took a long time to formulate because the document is extraordinary. Ambedkar took time because he had to be careful.”

Sources said Benegal had been told to cast popular actors.

The filmmaker, however, said the actors couldn’t be cast “just like that” as they would play historical characters involved in framing the Constitution.

“They were real people, so it is essential that my actors look like these people from history,” Benegal said.