Bihar beckons: NRI shooting documentary with Hollywood crew

By Imran Khan, IANS
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

PATNA - California-based NRI filmmaker Ravi Verma has come all the way to his native Bihar with a Hollywood crew to make a documentary on famous Chinese Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang’s journey to India and says it’s a dream come true.

Verma and the crew are busy shooting the documentary “Hridayasutram” in Bihar’s popular Buddhist circuit - Bodh Gaya, Rajgir and Nalanda.

“Yes, we are busy shooting the documentary film for the last few days. I hope we will finish it soon. A 15-member Hollywood crew is enjoying shooting the film in Bihar,” Verma told IANS over telephone from Bodh Gaya Wednesday morning before leaving for Rajgir for a day long shoot.

Verma, who hails from Katihar, around 350 km from Patna, is the CEO of Telecommand Software and Services in the Silicon Valley that maintains the Entrepreneur Resource Planning (ERP) systems of the state of California.

He says it was his dream to make a documentary about a subject relevant to Bihar, India and Buddhism for the World audience. “This documentary film is a small step,” he said.

He also feels perhaps this is the first time a Hollywood crew is shooting a documentary film in Bihar’s popular Buddhist spot.

“It is a good beginning to re-tell the world about Bihar and its heritage,” said Verma, who converted to Buddhism a few years ago.

“Hridayasutram” will also be shot in Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh and Lumbini in neighbouring Nepal. “Hridaysutram” is a part of the Buddhist collection Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, which inspired the monk Hiuen Tsang to travel to India.

Hiuen Tsang stayed for 17 years in India and later returned to China with three copies of the sacred text and translated it into Chinese.

Verma says the documentary will also detail different aspects of Buddha’s life, but the primary focus will be on Hiuen Tsang, who travelled to India to collect authentic Buddhist parchments and spent his entire life transcribing them.

According to Buddhist experts, Hiuen Tsang visited India to study Buddhism at Nalanda university during the Gupta period. He stayed at Nalanda for 12 years.

Hiuen Tsang mentioned his India visit at length in his autobiography “Great Tang Records on the Western Regions”, one of the most authentic first hand accounts of the social and political aspects of South Asia at that time.

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