This is the fifth episode of a multipart series of interviews with Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, the creator of the Chanakya Television Series that aired on Doordarshan between September 1991 – August 1992. The hallmark of a classic work of art is an innate trait in it to have universal appeal transcending age groups, geographies, languages and cultures. In the annals of creative storytelling through the medium of Television, Chanakya undoubtedly is one such modern classic. This series has become a cultural milestone of sorts in recent Indian history. Today, there are 1000s of clips of selected scenes and dialogues from Chanakya on #YouTube and elsewhere on social media that continue to be regularly circulated.
The story of the Chanakya TV series revolves around the character, life, and accomplishments of Chanakya or Kautilya or Vishnugupta, one of the world’s pioneering masters of statecraft, politics, and economics who lived in the 3rd century BCE. The Chanakya TV series has elevated a historical subject and a great event in ancient India into a rich art experience. And who better to tell us the full story of how this classic came to be created than its creator himself? This is your host Sandeep Balakrishna.
In this episode, Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi recounts details of the casting that he chose for the series. He intentionally chose lesser-known actors who hailed mainly from the theatre background. Dr. Dwivedi narrates how he approached the folks at the National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi and how he cast such actors as Manoj Joshi, Pramod Moutho, and Irrfan Khan. He recalls an incident of a self-realized Swami or Sanyasi who touched his feet because Dr. Dwivedi was touched by divinity when he made the Chanakya series.