Secrets of the Koh-i-noor an interesting docu-series

Manoj Bajpayee makes Secrets of the Koh-i-noor very interesting. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

The second of Neeraj Pandey’s Secrets series (after the superb Secrets of Sinauli: Discovery of the Century last year) on Discovery Plus, the 2-part Secrets of the Koh-i-Noor is a fairly interesting journey over multiple centuries of the Koh-i-noor diamond that literally transcended generations, Indian provinces as well as national borders. It highlights the convoluted path this priceless chunk of carbon took from its coming out of the Kullar Gold Mine in South India to the Tower of London in England, which now houses it.

On the way it brought ill-luck, death, good luck, prosperity, deceit and treachery and itself saw changes in size and even shape to itself, besides inviting scrutiny, bloodshed and even mystery. From Babar to Aurangzeb, Nadir Shah and beyond, the diamond has had a truly singular journey.

The docu-series focuses on the lusty obsession (or obsessive lust?) for it across the Mughals, Rajputs and more, ending with the treacherous move that took the diamond forever away from Indian shores by the East India Company. It makes a strong case for why India, especially now, should demand its property back from the colonial owners. The final point the docu-series subtly pinpoints is that the Koh-i-noor (“Mountain of light, as christened by invader Nadir Shah while he possessed it) has brought ill-luck even to the once-flourishing British empire worldwide. And the country is still being bogged down by diverse ill-luck!

Of course, because of various perceptions, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan are also now claiming ownership rights on it!

The 2-part series features interviews of historians, diplomats and diamond experts across the world, like Irfan Habib, Farhat Nasreen, Shashi Tharoor, Danielle Kinsey, Miles Taylor, Manvendra Kumar Pundhir and Pauline Willemse among others.

One memorable quote on the shows is, “If a strong man were to throw four stones – one north, one south, one east, one west, and a fifth stone up into the air – and if the space between them were to be filled with gold, it would not equal the value of the Koh-i-noor!”

The strength of this show lies even more than its content in the way anchor Manoj Bajpayee narrates—let us not forget that Neeraj has extracted some of the actor’s best work even on screen (and of course in a short film)! In a dapper jacket, the expressive actor gets his nuances in diction, expression and body language fabulously pitch-perfect. His expressions, especially, are so involving even among some relatively bland statements!

The animation used is well-done, though it is a moot point whether some live actors, maybe with VFX-generated backdrops, would not have more effective. However, I would give one intensely-heartfelt suggestion: if you do understand Hindi, please watch it in the original language and not in the English dubbed version (on which I wasted the first 10 minutes or so)! It makes a whale of a difference, believe me!

Discovery Plus presents Secrets of the Koh-i-Noor  Created by: Neeraj Pandey  Director: RaghavMohan  Jairath  Written by: Vaibhav Mutha Music: Advait Nemlekar Anchored by: Manoj Bajpayee



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