June 13, 2006

Huge Data Base on A Secondary Source

During the course of solving the recent Civil Services Preliminary General Studies paper (2006), I stumbled upon a commercial site and left amazed and flabbergasted by the amount of data available there in. The site is called Internet Movie Data Base or simply IMDB.

There is a strong debate going on among the different group of historians. They are fighting by making groups like revisionists, nationalists, oral history, dictated histories, subaltern history, Marxist, Post-modernist, Ranke, Romanists and what not. What may be the views of the contending groups, I am convinced that the movie people also work in the field of history and help in preserving history and giving interpretation to the historic sources. Through the film media, they try to recover the past. I accept that they can not be included in the list of actual historians. They have freedom to use their imagination as they want and then articulate their views through the medium of film. Secondly the actors who enact the historic character also try to give some non-historic articulation. But on the whole, they are definitely assisting in the field of interpretation, preservation of data and showing the relevance of history for the present times.

In the recent years in India, there is a spate of historic movies. In case of one historic personality, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, there were five movies in a row which were released. Then came the Sardar Patel and then the Mangal Pandey and Netaji Subash Chander Bose: The Forgotten Hero. This year (2006), Rang De Basanti added a new dimension in the field of historic films. I will soon write an article on this movie. I am not concerned with the movie as it is, but I am definitely excited by the theme and the story line. It is a new thing to happen in the field of film production as well of significance of history for the present. No doubt, there are some other experiments which are coming up in which the real character are going to play the reel characters. One of the satisfying results were found in case of Gone with the Wind, Titan, Lawrence of Arabia, Shatranj Ke Khilari, Guide etc. In each case I got the chance to learn about basic data, some additional information and other useful stories.

Coming back to IMDB, I say that I am completely amazed. I made some searches on this site. It was confined mainly to Indian Movies. I picked the older movies especially those which were released in 60s and 70s. Do you know that there was a movie Dewaar released in Pakistan in 1954? This is what I found when I tried to search for Dewaar of Amitab Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor. I got similar results on Zanjeer, Don (along with similar titles from other countries), Sholay (Including five more of them: Do you know about them?) etc. I made an experiment with the term "Hanste Zakham", the movie I like for its story, music and acting of Priya Rajvansha. (Sorry, present day Damsels of Bollywood, None of you stand anywhere near her. Not even Preeti Zinta and Juhi Chawla. I do not reckon Aishwarya or Sushimta anywhere or some of the new ones who attract but I do not remember their names. )

The data available is really comprehensive. You learn about the producer, writer, director, actors (with their names and the character they played), anecdotes, music directors, cinematographers and all people with the related fields of movie production. There is further detail on each person who was or is associated with the movie. No doubt, more detailed data is available only if you are ready to pay. But the amount of data which they provide, is enough for starting a detailed study on any movie.

I strongly recommend it to the teachers, scholars and researchers to check this site to make their own judgement if they do not already know about this site.

Further, as a bonus, you get to know a lot about the latest releases in any language.

Validation Through Examples:
The American President Blog has described Ronald Reagan through details from IMBD. (Located on July 24, 2006)

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