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Film Feast for Indophiles

January 2008
Film Feast for Indophiles

As a historian and filmmaker, Michael Wood has won renown for his television documentaries on Alexander, the Trojan War, and Shakespeare, among others. What’s not as well known is that he has long had a deep interest in India, the subject of a six-part documentary that aired on BBC last year. Also in 2007, Wood’s acclaimed travelogue, The Smile of Murugan: A South Indian Journey, was reissued after a decade. And now that BBC series, The Story of India, will be shown on PBS in the spring. Described as a celebratory, and selective, history of India, Wood begins his sweeping narrative with the rise of Indus civilization and ends it with a look at the changes taking place today. A companion book, simply titled India, has already been released.

“My wife and I fell in love with India and were married there; our children have Indian names,” writes Wood in the introduction. “We have traveled together in India as a family, and some of our most vivid memories are associated with the children when they were young: celebrating Pongal, the spring festival in the traditional household of Tamil friends; traveling the south by local bus to visit the old shrines of the Cavery delta; or, most memorably perhaps, staying with friends in a tent in the middle of the Kumbh Mela of 2001, the greatest human gathering o Earth— not to mention escaping afterwards to semolina pudding and fruit cake at our favorite little Parsee hotel in Allahabad.”

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