For filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker, there is nothing more important that unveiling the real India. The Mohenjo Daro director says that to build a better nation we need to bring our history out of textbooks
Every time I sit at my desk to pen down the first lines of the next story I want to narrate and share with the audience, only one image comes to mind. That of our country. Not of a political entity but of a source of power and spirituality. It’s this inherent spirituality of India that has inspired every film I have ever made. Be it Lagaan, Swades, Jodhaa Akbar or Mohenjo Daro, all of them have India’s spirituality at their core. But this spirituality isn’t connected with any religion or community. It’s the peace that exists within our chaos, our heritage that inspires our innovation, and our diversity that unifies us.
For years I have been fascinated with how several Indias co-exist within one country. Every few kilometres, there is a change: language, dialect, customs and costumes. I have seen how from village to village, just 20 km apart, there is a change in how men tie their dhoti or turban! In other nations, people are divided by language but they don’t have so many dialects. They are divided by religion but their colloquial remains the same. This unique dichotomy of India inspires as well as excites me. And it also makes me proud. And this is what I try to portray in my films. Though some of my films are based on known historical characters, it’s not the individuals who inspire the narrative. The influence is always India and the collective consciousness of Indians!
I take a lot of pride in our rich and diverse history. There are so many eras, dynasties and empires to learn from, and they all have a tale to tell. There are so many monuments, palaces and forts that stand as mute proof of our history. Most of us are familiar only with a few sections of our history – the Mughal era or the British Raj. Maybe because that’s what is taught in schools. Powerful dynasties such as the Gajapathis and mighty emperors such as Krishnadevraya are confined to just a few pages in history books. But there is so much to discover: untold stories of kings and queens, of sages and patriots, of common men and women, who have left an indelible mark on our society and country. Just travel to the interiors of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha or any other state, and you will discover these secrets for yourself.
We often blame the administration for not being able to take care of all historical monuments. But what about our individual responsibility? Is India’s glorious past only the government’s pride? Shouldn’t we take it upon ourselves to preserve our history and make others aware of it? I often come across monuments in remote areas that are in complete ruin – destroyed more by our callous attitude than by time. We must come together to save them from becoming just another part of our lost history. We need to spot these landmarks and highlight their importance. Because, if we don’t respect our history, no one else will.
We can learn a lot from our past but we usually don’t. That’s because we don’t realise that his