Thiruvananthapuram: Don’t be amazed if you find tough space exploration theories and technical jargons relating to rocket science being used in Sanskrit, the ancient language of vedas and mantras, in a film.
A science documentary in the classical language, considered to be the first such initiative in the world cinema, will soon enthrall movie buffs with the success story of India’s historic ‘Mars Orbiter Mission’ (MOM) alias ‘Mangalyaan’.
National award-winning filmmaker Vinod Mankara, known for his efforts to revive Sanskrit, which is generally considered a dead language, is coming out with the innovative docu film.
Titled “Yaanam”, the proposed 45-minute movie is based on “My Odyssey: Memoirs of the Man Behind the Mangalyaan Mission” penned by former ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan.
Mankara said it would be a complete Sanskrit docu-film by all means as the entire script and dialogues would be in the ancient language.
Shooting of the movie is expected to go on floors in February and the world-premier is planned in April next year.
The director’s “Priyamanasam”, the third only Sanskrit feature film in the world, had won the national award for the best feature film in that language. It was also the opening movie in the feature section of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in the year 2015.
“When “Yanam” is ready, it will be the first of its kind professional documentary film in Sanskrit in the world. Science and Sanskrit may sound like an odd combination, but I have my own reasons to club them,” he told PTI.
An ardent enthusiast of the classical language and Indian thoughts, Mankara said the country can boast of its achievements in space exploration as well as it’s Sanskrit legacy, which is regarded as the mother of many languages.
Majority of the ancient texts of the sub-continent including that of space and astronomy were compiled in Sanskrit and so what is wrong in using that language as medium in a movie which tells about the country’s Mars mission, he asked.
“The objective of the movie is to present the nation’s achievements before the international community through our own language. It will be a promotion for both the language and the space achievements,” the director explained.
Seeking to prove that astronomy and cosmology are not alien subjects in Sanskrit, Mankara mentioned an ancient Indian text named “Surya Siddhanta”.
A Sanskrit treatise in Indian astronomy in 14 chapters, the ‘Surya Siddhanta’ describes rules to calculate the motions of various planets and the moon relative to various constellations, and calculates the orbits of various astronomical bodies.
“If a text, believed to have been written during the second century, can describe the exclusive scientific literature in Sanskrit verse without any hurdle, why can’t we think about a science movie in that language? That thought led me to the concept of this docu-film,” he said.
Asked about his choice of the former ISRO chief’s book as the basis for his documentary, Mankara said it was an “amazing” book which can also be taken as a parallel history of the space agency itself.
“The book documents the over four-decades-long career of Radhakrishnan in ISRO. My film is based on one of its chapters named Martian Odyssey. It has all the ingredients of a thrilling detective novel,” the filmmaker said.
The narrative text of the movie is yet to be completed and one of the major challenges in writing the script is to find out Sanskrit equivalents for technical words in space science, he said.
Not just the narration, but the dialogues of all characters appearing in the movie would be in Sanskrit.
Noting that it won’t be in a traditional documentary format, Mankara said advanced visual technology and augmented reality techniques would be explored in the film.
“Beyond the technical aspects of the Mars Mission, I want to showcase the relentless effort of a group of hardworking scientists who made the feat a reality for the country, that too at an incredibly lower budget,” he said.
Besides screening it for the scientists community and at the universities and colleges in the country, the director also plans a global premier of his documentary.
“I would like to screen Yaanam for the space scientists of NASA, SpaceX, the European Union space agency, the UAE space agency and so on. If everything goes as planned, the global scientists will watch the successful space saga of India through the ancient language of the sub-continent,” he said, adding that it would have subtitles in English.
The 4K digital DTS movie is produced by A V Anoop under the banner AVA Productions.
Several well-known technical experts are expected to join this first science movie in sanskrit, which is slated for released on April 12, the anniversary of the world’s first space shuttle mission.
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel in space on April 12, 1961.
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