The two-part docu-series explores how the ownership of the priceless gemstone changed over centuries, to finally be in the possession of the British empire.
Last Updated: 06.19 AM, Aug 04, 2022
Story: Actor Manoj Bajpayee turns host for a two-part series that traces the history of the Kohinoor. Based on documented evidence about the world-famous diamond, the series tracks its ownership across dynasties and how it went from over 700 carats to being the 106-carat stone on the British Queen Mother’s crown.
Review: A few years ago, on a visit to London, one of the customary touristy things to do was to visit the Tower of London, which would then include a peek at the famed Kohinoor – the diamond from India that the British proudly exhibit among many other pricey items looted from colonial states. I must have heard Shashi Tharoor speak about it too many times that my inner voice also whispered that it was absurd to pay the British to see something that is ‘ours’. But the tourist in me was curious to see this gem that has so much history attached to it. So, off I went to see it, which then turned out to be quite an underwhelming experience.
Set in the crown of the Queen Mother, as one of hundreds of stones, the Kohinoor didn’t exactly evoke a ‘wow’ factor. It’s big, but not as much as one expected it to be. Turns out that the stone on the crown is only 1/6th of the original size of the gem that was mined centuries ago in Golconda. This is one of many facts that filmmaker Neeraj Pandey presents in the two-part docu-series Secrets of the Kohinoor, hosted by actor Manoj Bajpayee.
After watching the two 45-minute-long episodes, the first question that popped to mind is, ‘Why is it called Secrets of the Kohinoor?’ discovery+’s series does not really tell us anything that we have not heard of before. If you’ve paid attention to history lessons in school or have ever been curious enough about the famed gem, you’d have read/heard about some of the stories of how it came to be in the possession of the British. I’d done some reading up after Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor’s speech at the Oxford Union years ago, where he said that the British owes India reparation for what it had done to the country in the years it was colonized.
Secrets of the Kohinoor doesn’t tell you anything more than a quick Wikipedia reading of the subject will. As the designated history teacher for ‘two periods’, Manoj tries his best to evoke interest in the subject. But even with the animated representations of the many Indian and foreign rulers who came to be in possession of the Kohinoor under varying circumstances, and accounts from historians, there’s little to stifle the yawn that creeps up every now and then. Even Tharoor gets to say his piece about the Kohinoor. The makers even throw in a bit about whether the stone is cursed, but don’t establish that either.
The two-part show is not enlightening and, honestly, has nothing worth mentioning. It repeats the oft asked question – who does the stone really belong to? India? Iran? Pakistan? Or Afghanistan? Well, as long as it remains in the Tower of London, it doesn’t really matter if there’s a satisfactory answer to that question, right!
Secrets of the Kohinoor is predominantly in Hindi, with the odd commentary in English. discovery+ makes it available with English subtitles.
Verdict: Watching Secrets of the Kohinoor felt like a pointless exercise. What was the objective of this series? It is highly unlikely that it will appeal to history buffs either because it doesn’t present anything that hasn’t been said before. It could, though, become good resource material for schools – children may like it better than learning about it from their textbooks.