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Rewind to 1947

Nilanjana Bose

Updated: August 14, 2009, 7:49 PM IST
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When we decided to do a show for Independence Day, we had a simple idea - to go back in time to 1947 and find out what life was like. Rather aptly, we called it 'Rewind to '47'.

That was 3 weeks ago. And, what we didn't know is that we had embarked on one of the most exhaustive processes we've been through, trying to put a show together.

The first thing we had to do was to identify the people who would be the stars of the show. The list we drew up was massive and as the days went by, we kept adding more names. Finally we had 40 people from all over India.

From Homai Vyarawala, India's first woman press photographer to Uthradam Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the former king of Travancore. From Mahatma Gandhi's secretary to Lord Mountbatten's ADC. From former wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer to Nandi Singh, a hockey player from the team that beat England in the 1948 Olympics. From Milkha Singh who lost his parents in the Partition to Ram Jethmalani, who had to leave Karachi to come to India. From shopkeepers in Connaught Place who catered to the British to students from the batch of 1947 in Presidency College -- the list almost an epistle.

Then came many hours spent in libraries and old shops across the country, sourcing material from 1947 -old photographs, movies, songs and newspaper clippings.

After days of tracking down people and filming with them - we were left with dozens of tapes to sift through. Many days and nights were spent in office listening to the interviews and choosing footage. We finally had 110 pages of transcripts to read which would become the body of the show.

For the last few days, we've spent close to 20 hours in office every day, going back home only for a few hours before we return to the editing table. The structure of the show has been changed and modified a hundred times. What should the show start with? Which portions of the interviews should we use? How do we move from the hit movies of 1947 to India's hockey victory in 1948? These were questions that we kept asking each other, and as a result - the show remained for long a work in progress.

Now with just a few hours left for 'Rewind to '47' to go on air - we're still a long way off from being on-air ready. But we're keeping our fingers crossed and hoping our executive producer is organising dinner for us tonight because no one's going anywhere till after 12 tomorrow afternoon because that's when 'Rewind to '47' goes on air.

First Published: August 14, 2009, 7:49 PM IST

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