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Inside Programming : Aamrapali

On The Sets Of

B M Vyas, writer

On the story of Amrapali

It's a story based in Vaishali nearly 2,500 years ago. It's about a very beautiful and talented young girl who is brought up by a person who she believes is her father but who actually isn't her father. Every seven years, there is a major festival called Vasant Utsav and Aamrapali along with her lover Harsh and best friend are persuaded into attending the festival. In a dramatic turn of events, she gets drunk and joins the group of beauties contending to become Janpath Kalyani.

(Janpath Kalyani was the term given to the most beautiful and talented girl of the kingdom. A Janpath Kalyani was selected for a period of seven years and a palace was given to her. A Janpath Kalyani had the right to choose her lover and get a person of her choice for a physical relationship but it did not necessarily work the other way round.)
Now, I must specify here that in the modern context such a situation might seem absurd but in those days it was an extremely respectable practice and the Janpath Kalyani commanded immense respect.

Moreover Aamprapali, by virtue of her rare talent (she excelled in 64 forms of art), goes down as a revered historical character. On her invitation, Lord Buddha is supposed to have come to her palace.

The thrust of the story is on how an innocent, fun loving pure girl is suddenly transformed into the world of glorified adultery and how she still copes with the changed scenario and goes on to become an erudite legend. Then, there are the peculiar dilemmas she is confronted with - the quest for her true father, the separation from her lover when she suddenly becomes a Janpath Kalyani and so on.

I feel that in spite of belonging to a different era, the story would interest viewers because the drama and the events are very pertinent today.

On the research that has gone into it

Quite a lot. Actually, I started accumulating material on Lord Buddha nearly seven years ago, though it was for a different project. I even went to Igatpuri to attend a devotion camp, observed maun vrat (keep silent) for 10 days and all that. Finally, after I had worked on that project for a year, it got shelved. Two and half years later, I started work on a serial on Ashok, which too did not happen. So I had done enough research on the history of the period. It was a coincidence that around the same time, DV Rao got the concept approved by Doordarshan. He offered me the project and handed me his own material on Aamrapali. Since I had a sufficient groundwork for the project ready with me, I decided to give it a shot.

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