New documentary tracks Indian footprints in southeast Asia

April 18th, 2009 - 8:51 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) He has done a documentary on the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism from India to southeast Asia. Now filmmaker S. Krishnaswamy plans to come out with the second part of “Indian Imprints” in 2010.
Hundreds of ancient monuments and temples reflecting the impact of ancient India on southeast Asia are presented in the 18-episode documentary serial. It has been filmed in over 100 locations in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

“We are planning to come out with a second part of the documentary by 2010 that will include more countries including Myanmar,” Krishnaswamy told IANS.

“Thirty years ago when I made ‘Indus Valley To Indira Gandhi’, I came across facts that stressed upon India’s not so well-explored bond with southeast Asia. ‘Indus Valley…’ didn’t have the scope to include those facts, since it was already four hours long. So, I decided to make a different film to go deep into the subject.

“I spoke to a lot of historians. But when we decided to go ahead with this film there was political turmoil in Cambodia. Without Cambodia we thought our documentary will be lacking an essential point, so we waited. Once things smoothed in the country, we took up the topic again,” he added.

Krishnaswamy also revealed that one of the many things he got to know after his research was that Hinduism and Buddhism spread in various Asian countries as mutually infused religions.

“Hinduism and Buddhism were exported not as two different religions but as mutually infused in each other, while in a certain region one might be more prominent than the other. In Cambodia, there were periods when people were followers of Shiva and in other periods there were followers of Vishnu. Likewise, there were also followers of Buddha,” said the filmmaker.

But why did the documentary include only five countries?

“While India has a relationship with almost all countries in Asia, the maximum impact was noticed in southeast. Also, we had to stop somewhere to lend focus. Thus, we decided to shortlist and zero in on these five countries.”

Krishnaswamy has made “Indian Imprints” under his banner of Krishnaswamy Associates, Chennai. It was funded by state broadcaster Prasar Bharati. The filmmaker was recently given the Padma Shri award.

“It is a landmark recognition. It is a national honour and that makes me feel very happy to receive it. Someone in Chennai told me that I have got too little too late after doing the kind of work I’ve done, but I don’t feel that way. I take this award as a huge recognition coming from the government of India,” he said.

Apart from that Krishnaswamy has been honoured with national awards four times; he has also received the Watumull Foundation award in Hawaii and the lifetime achievement award at the US International Film and Video Festival, Los Angeles.

“Indian Imprints”, currently being telecast on Doordarshan’s international channel DD India and DD Bharati, was completed in 2007.

“I was collecting information since a long time, but a wholehearted research for the documentary started around 2001. We started shooting for it in 2006 and after editing and all the film was ready by 2007,” informed Krishnaswamy.

He has made several films and television serials for various channels including Doordarshan and some in southeast Asia.

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