Yesterday, I stumbled upon the fact that the entire British Pathé archive has been uploaded on Youtube.
While I didn’t know what the British Pathe was when I saw the link, I did click through to see that 85,000 videos had been uploaded, segmented, categorized and made freely available to anyone with internet access.
(To correctly pronounce ‘pathé’, you say it like you’d say ‘pati’, the Hindi word for husband, as opposed to say how you’d say ‘lathe’, like in the lathe machine.I mention this specifically because until I was corrected in my first year of engineering college, I always said ‘lathe’ like one would say ‘latte’, but with a soft ‘th’ sound in the second syllable, much to the amusement of those that knew how to say it correctly.)
Some of the videos I stumbled upon were quite interesting and held tremendous historical significance. For instance, this video of Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939.
Dalai Lama being received in Tezpur after his escape from China.
India takes Goa (1962) – the reporter, much to my delight, chooses to use the words ‘Righteous indignation’.
Doordarshan on Youtube:
Closer home, Doordarshan’s Youtube channel also seems to have started its digitization efforts, with over 700 videos uploaded. Granted, it is a drop in the ocean compared to the Pathé, but hopefully our government recognizes the importance of bringing us the original content that we cherished when we were growing up.
I was particularly happy with a full Byomkesh Bakshi playlist that was uploaded by DD, since a friend had given me the episodes on a thumb drive but the audio quality in those episodes left a lot to be desired. My mind boggles at all the material they might be able to upload, except, maybe Krishi Darshan which is as boring as the ‘smoking kills’ ads that they show without exception at the start of every movie in a cinema hall.
Archive of Indian Music:
In Bangalore, Vikram Sampath, who is one of the founding trustees of the Bangalore Literature Festival told me about a project that he was working on, titled the Archive of Indian music, where they are trying to document the rich history of Indian recordings.
All the clips have been hosted on Soundcloud and will be a delight to go through for those that are big on old music from back in the 1920s and beyond. I chanced upon Kundan Lal Saigal’s “diya jalao” from the movie Tansen, which I remember watching with my parents and being utterly fascinated about how a man’s voice could be so powerful as to light extinguished lamps. Even now, many years later, that melody is hauntingly beautiful and I’d strongly recommend a listen.
The seeds of the future lie buried in the past and the more we know about our past and learn from it, the better we can be. Please leave a comment in case you know of other similar archives. And no, the MTV Roadies Youtube channel does not qualify.