Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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kumbh documentary
Foreigner’s Kumbh documentary to be telecast to 60 countries
Diego Bunuel, a Spanish-French journalist, has been capturing the magic of the Mahakumbh-2013 in a film documentary titled, ‘Inside the Mahakumbh’. This documentary is scheduled to be telecast on National Geographic Channel on March 4 at 10pm.

I am sure it would be a wonderful experience watching this documentary because Bunuel has been going round the Mela, capturing some rare scenes, dialogues and filming those vast, colourful bathing rituals apart from presenting a picture of the gigantic behind-the-scenes infrastructure that was needed to cope with the massive requirements of a spectacular situation unimaginable to those who have no idea about this grand, biggest show on earth. 
Diego explains that he has planned the movie in parts.’ One part of the story focuses on the infrastructure that was developed in order to get so many people in one place. Then there is another piece on the spiritual aspect. And yet another on Ganges’, he revealed to Budhaditya Bhattacharya in an interview published in The Hindu the other day. He says that the documentary has been made for people who ‘have little idea of what the Kumbh is about, what Hinduism is about and, sometimes, what India is about’. He says, ‘My job is to take these people by the hand and just dive into the incredible event and find the hidden gems’. What has amazed him is the organizational skill of those involved, ‘how the flow of traffic, of people, of buses, of cars, is managed’. It is indeed a ‘massive operation’.
If we look at ourselves as others look at us, we may at times be baffled by what all impresses them that goes unnoticed by us. If Diego is impressed by the vast magnitude of the arrangements it is because he hasn’t seen anything like this anywhere. He has seen the finished product. He hasn’t been through the ups and downs through which the Mela arrangements went before reaching the final stage. He has not been bothered by reports about corruption, about commissions, about sub-standard material that was allegedly used and so on. Let us forget the teething troubles or the labour pains undergone before the Kumbh baby (infrastructure ) was born. If we delink ourselves from the hurdles faced, the criticism heard, the brickbats hurled and look impartially at the final product in respect of the Mela arrangements we will find that work has been done on a grand and fabulous scale. The illumination at night leaves the viewer spell-bound.

Media rapped for spreading panic

I will interrupt for a while to quote Mr Azam Khan(whose resignation from the management committee has not been accepted by Chief Minister Akhilesh Singh). He blamed the electronic media for spreading lies. He said that two persons had fallen down, probably in a drain. But the media played up the whole thing by saying that it was stampede. People from the mela, getting panicky, fled from Kumbh Nagar and rushed to the station as a result of which overcrowding took place at the Junction Railway Station. Electronic media do have a tendency to spread panic.
But Diego has also shown that he cannot be influenced by the negative comments that were aired following the stampede. He says: ‘The stampede was a little different from the Kumbh itself as it happened at the Railway station’. He says, ‘There is nothing larger than the Kumbh Mela, the biggest gathering of human beings in the world’ and ‘that was a tall order to deal with already’.
Readers may not be aware that Diego is dabbling in documentary of this nature after having reported from conflict zones like Iraq, Congo, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan. He was even shot at in Columbia. When asked how he felt reporting war events with guns booming all around and then filming a documentary on Kumbh, Diego said: ‘The Kumbh Mela is a fun event. In situations of conflict you have to, on the contrary, focus on one person’s story.’ He quoted Stalin who had said, ‘A million deaths is a statistic, a single death is a tragedy’. Diego says, ‘My job is to focus on that one death’.
Many Indian film stars came to the Sangam too. Some of them had a holy dip. Some took part in cultural functions too. But I wonder if any film personality ever thought of capturing the beauty and grandeur of the Mela on their cameras. If some of them did so but have kept them aside to be used in a film which may focus a few scenes in the story on Kumbh then these scenes will prove to be quite handy. I remember seeing a film in the 1950s in which there was a Kumbh Mela scene in which a child is lost who subsequently grows up in a different family. The film was B.R.Chopra’s Afsana. The Mela showed a balloon seller- singing, ‘Duniya ek kahani re bhaiya’ and telling a child, ‘Kas kar dor pakarna bitiya karna na nadani, isi dor mein bandhi hui hai terei preet nishani’ or words to this effect.


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