9 Documentaries You Must Watch To Know India Better This Republic Day

Documentaries on India
With India’s 74th Republic Day approaching, we’re bound to get the feels while witnessing the parade, listening to patriotic songs and watching films about the country. While how we see history and understand it differs from person to person, stories are all we have to remember the past, see through the facts, appreciate our great motherland, and hope for better days ahead.

To add to your watchlist this Republic Day, we bring to you nine informative documentaries on India that showcase both reality and the transformation of the past decades. These documentaries streaming across OTT platforms will not just help you understand India better but will surface distinct ideologies in the most populous land in the world.

Documentaries On India

1. I Am 20

It was important to start with the mention of this short documentary. I Am 20 is an interesting watch because it incorporates interviews of people from across fields who were born in 1947 on Independence day. Shot by the Films Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the 20-minute film showcases how these 20-year-olds in 1967 are navigating their lives, India’s newfound freedom and their dreams to create the best lives possible as young Indians.

Streaming platform: YouTube

2. The Story of India

In 2007, famous historian Michael Wood presented one of the most comprehensive documentaries of all time. Written by Wood himself, the six-part series streams on the BBC network and is an important watch if you want in-depth knowledge of the country beyond what is usually mentioned in the textbooks.

Covering the facts from the Indus Valley Civilisation to surfacing details of India’s freedom, the documentary shows India in a different light and helps us understand the causes behind the actions. Apart from extensive historical proof and archaeological discoveries, the stories also involve conversations with locals across Indian states that offer a fresh new perspective on their culture and historical events. The series also sheds light on a major part of Southern India as well, something not all documentaries do justifiably.

Streaming platform: BBC Network

3. The Great Indian Railway

We can’t study India’s history without a mention of Indian railways. Released in December 2018, this documentary is a significant representation of the historical events that led to the railways becoming a strong force of public travel across Indian states bringing not just people together but also their cultures. The Great Indian Railway serves as gold for train lovers as it brings forth the history and status of all kinds of trains whether it’s the world-famous Palace on Wheels to Darjeeling’s toy Trains. From express trains to new enter city trains, the series shows the grand network that Indian trains boast of.

Streaming platform: National Geographic

4. India Emerges: A Visual History

India’s transformation from once being an imperial colony to becoming one of the world’s largest economies is an inspiring watch. India Emerges A Visual History serves as not just a reminder of the struggles of the country’s people but also the emergence of a land which had everything taken away. This documentary is a must-watch if you’re eager to see some never-seen-before footage from between the 1903 and 1937 eras. The footage from films shot in the respective years and 1937 shows India’s journey over time and sheds light on the 1965 and 1971 wars against Pakistan. The series also brings alive the events that led to the period of emergency and the aftermath. This three-act series is a must-watch if you want a recap of the events that led us to where we are today.

Streaming platform: Prime Video

5. Beyond All Boundaries

In a land where cricket is deemed as a religion, this documentary directed by Sushrut Jain is a fitting depiction of the significance the sport carries across the country. Released in 2013, Beyond All Boundaries shows the enthusiasm fans carry in this cricket-crazy nation and what it takes to be one of the best-performing countries in the sport. The show is set against the backdrop of the World Cup 2011 and brings to screen the stories of three die-hard fans of the game who’ve not just remained loyal to the game but also made sacrifices along the way.

Streaming platform: YouTube

7. The World Before Her

This documentary written and directed by filmmaker Nisha Pahuja is a great watch and a tough one too. It highlights the two realities of young women in India, set against the backdrop of a struggle between generational norms and a modern outlook. Released in 2102, The World Before Her tells the stories of two women and captures the essence of the ground reality every woman in India goes through despite the patriarchal challenges thrown her way.

Streaming platform: Prime Video

5. Period. End of Sentence.

This Oscar-winner short documentary is a representation of one of the most significant revolutions in Indian history. The silent revolution, led by a woman paved way for change in a land where menstruation was a huge taboo. Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi, the 2019 release is inspired by Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist in Tamil Nadu, and showcases how a few women in Hapur strive to learn how to make low-cost and biodegradable sanitary pads.

The local women establish a network by making biodegradable pads which they sell to other women at affordable prices. This story serves as a reminder of the struggles Indian women have had to face in fighting against stigma.

Streaming platform: Netflix

8. The Ganges with Sue Perkins

If you’re looking for films around the Ganges, considered a holy river worldwide, The Ganges is an extremely informative account of people living across the Ganges. Narrated by Sue Perkins, the documentary explores the lives of people who have grown up near the holy river with detailed accounts of the transformation they’ve come across with respect to the river, its sacredness and the culture associated with it.

Streaming platform: BBC Network

9. India 2050

This powerful documentary predicts the future of India based on current actions and events shaping. Indian 2050 showcases what might happen if we don’t acknowledge our current doing that’s not just harming the environment but also the very fabric this land rests on. The thought-provoking story highlights a crisis that we as Indians are approaching owing to climate change. The series begins with the Pink city Jaipur and follows course with the national capital Delhi, metropolitan Mumbai and other cities that rest on the coast.

Streaming platform: Discovery Plus

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