Monday, January 05, 2009


British pop historian Michael Wood's PBS miniseries “The Story of India" kicks off tonight at 9 on WTTW-Channel 11 (and on other public TV stations).

"This is not a documentary about the modern India of call centers and terrorist attacks and nuclear tensions," wrote Mike Hale in yesterday's New York Times. "The first two hours, which were available for review, don’t even take the story into the A.D. years. They finish with Ashoka, the bloodthirsty emperor who renounced violence before the end of his reign in 232 B.C. According to the press notes, the narrative will essentially end in 1947 with the partition of India and Pakistan, with a brief glance at India’s history since then.

"But Mr. Wood’s method is to teach history on location, with a maximum of travel and conversation — in the first two hours he and his cameras span thousands of miles, from Kerala in southern India to Calcutta, Delhi, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Iraq — and a minimum of explanatory graphics or talking heads other than his own. (He also doesn’t use recreations, though he has found an ingenious substitute: excerpts from Indian films like “Asoka” and “Lagaan.”)

"Contemporary India is constantly on screen, in images that are sometimes clichéd but often enough astonishing: the shots of a once-every-12-years festival in which a 60-foot statue of a Jain saint is anointed with showers of milk, saffron, turmeric, coins and flowers are otherworldly."

Read the rest of the review here.


Thanks to Catesey for the tip.


  1. thanks for reminding me. i read about them making it when i was in india in january

  2. I really, really enjoyed it! Wonder if they might release it on DVD?

  3. The DVD is out.
    Look for the plug at the end of tonight's installment.

  4. it was Great!!!! i tivo'ed it so i could keep it~

  5. I cried when I saw the great temple at Thanjavur in the beginning credits because I remembered how powerful the shakti was there.

  6. Anonymous8:39 PM

    I saw some of it too. Really interesting!

  7. Thanks so much for 'The Story of India' tip! I've downloaded all of the 6 series from a bitTorrent server ;-). It is just so beautiful, amazing and instructive. Thanks, thanks, thanks...