KGF: Doordarshan Special
Duration: 00:15:11; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 344.957; Saturation: 0.129; Lightness: 0.101; Volume: 0.142; Cuts per Minute: 8.158; Words per Minute: 33.949
Summary: A Doordarshan program on Kolar Gold Fields which is about the small town and the mining activity. The voice over track in Hindi is largely undecipherable, though audible. This short film is annotated with description that link to the realities of Kolar, as depicted in Nair's film and books, and other research. The Doordarshan program reveals the nation's investment in Kolar's wealth of gold.
The Doordarshan produced programme on Kolar has patchy audio quality and therefore only portions of it have been transcribed. The voice over track in Hindi begins.
From the images it can be deciphered that reference is being made to the immense wealth and taxes in gold demanded by King Solomon which is referred to in the Bible. According to one legend, a bird (called a hoopoe or mountain cock) tells Solomon of a land that is full of gold and silver that is ruled by the Queen of Sheba.
This rather enigmatic introduction to the Doordarshan programme on Kolar seems to touch on various myths before settling into a straight forward account of the search for gold in Kolar. In a later segment, there is also reference to the slew of Hollywood films on the gold rush.
Kolar Gold Field, Kolar District, Karnataka
Series of stills of men panning for gold. Panning a mixture of dirt and water is one of the oldest ways in which gold could be found, since it is heavier than water and has a luster that distinguishes it from other forms of metal or dirt.
The Doordarshan programme 'In Search of Gold' was produced in 1981. The filmmaker and historian Janaki Nair is showing this Doordarshan program to people in Kolar when she was shooting her film 'After the Gold' in 1997. The film is being projected and the sound reveberates and hence makes part of this film inaudible and undecipherable.
The ironic difference in the titles of the two films, suggests the different agendas and perspectives of making a film about Kolar. 'In search of gold' is a celebratory account of the history of Kolar and the search of the fetishized object gold, only deviating once to show how the miners brave dangers to descend into the bowels of the earth to fetch the precious object. The miners seem akin to patriotic soldiers in this jingoistic half-hour programme that would be screened only on national television. It commemorates 100 years of mining in Kolar that finished in 1980-81.
Janaki Nair's 1997 has the hindsight of a little more than a century and is filmed at the point when the mines in Kolar are about to be closed down finally. The government has determined that gold has been extracted to its fullest and to do anymore would be too expensive to undertake. The workers are distraught and shaken by the impending closure of the mines, but are also the strongest characters that Nair explores in her footage. They tell of memories, legends and the realities of how mining had taken place that stretch over the course of a century, sing songs of their struggles with the management and have a precise and immediate recall of all the exacting labour and minutiae of excavating and mining gold that are merely glossed over in this Doordarshan program.
(In the 19th century was when the search for gold in Kolar began)
The shadow on the ground of the weary treasure hunter is in fact borrowed from many westerns and cowboy movies. Here the shadow is seen holding an instrument like a sickle, and then opening up a map. The camera pans up to transform the red earth of the Deccan Plateau into the wide open frontier for the colonial explorer, or the wild wild west for the fevered hunter in the gold rush.
There is a reference here to the earliest recorded history of the mining shafts in Kolar, which were first built by John Taylor & Company in 1881. The shafts went deeper and across over the next 110 years till the mines were closed in 1997.
There are even earlier references to finding and sourcing gold in Kolar, undertaken by the Chola kingdom, Tipu Sultan in 1700s and early 1800s.
In 1947 the mines were nationalised and later were placed under the control of Bharat Gold Mines Limited.
Before descending into the womb of the earth, the workers are educated and instructed. Most importantly they are instructed about security and precautions to be taken, especially in the event of an accident.
Most people from Kolar work in the mines.
Kolar Gold Mines were opened and run under a license by John Taylor & Sons for 60 years, and after independence handed over to the state of Mysore. It was then handed over to the central government and the national mint had exclusive rights to gold from Kolar, under the aegis of the Gold Control Act of 1960. In 1972 Bharat Gold Mines Limited was given control of Kolar, by the Ministry of Mines and it was there after run as a public sector undertaking.
The workers descend below the surface of the earth to look for treasure.
This mining has been taking place for a 100 years... (undecipherable segment)
By the time the BGML was given control of the mines, there was already less gold to be found. For the next 20 years, the mines would extend further deeper and KGF would become one of the deepest mines in the world. As is evidenced by other interviews and testimonies in the collection of footage on KGF in Pad.ma, the miners and workers up till 1997 continued to believe that there was a possibility of still extracting gold from these mines, but that the Indian government and Bharat Gold Mines Limited were unwilling to work hard enough or take the risk.
To descend into the heat and discomfort, in the womb of the earth, is not an easy task. The temperature here can rise up to 70 degree centigrade.
Here there seems to be a reference to the occupational hazard of working in the Kolar mines, which included breathing problems and specifically silicosis
The Doordarshan programs refers to and shows an accident or airblast within the tunnels of the mines in Kolar, and the workers running away from it.
During this sequence, a voice can be heard presumably of someone watching the program being projected saying - I was there.
Curiously Janaki Nair for whose film this footage was taken, talks in her article about the life of her own film 'After the Gold' (1997). In the article 'The Historian as Filmmaker: Slow Pan to the Present' she speaks of the experience of returning to Kolar, witnessing the changes and how the making and showing of her film changed her relationship to the region and the people living there.
"The film has served an unexpected and even unplanned purpose, giving back to the people of the area a version of their own past, in a form to which they have access. The new connectivities of cable television have made possible something that previously could not even be imagined. Local cable operators took it on themselves to advertise and show the film in different mining eighbourhoods- Mysore Mines, Frank and Co, Oorgaum, Nandy-durg. This turn of events enabled people of the area to revisit not just the past but also the present. And for the first time in their lives, women of the area, who had never once been underground, got a sense of where it was
that the men folk spent their working lives, braving unspeakable dangers in the darknessa nd forging lasting friendships. The film may not have moved the state to respond to the desires of the people in this mining settlement, but it served as a token tribute to their century of work, capturing their anguish, their concern and their love for a place they called their own."
Rescue work is taking place after the accident in the mines, and the responses and conversations of those watching can be heard inaudibly through this segment.
A voice can be heard trying to locate the specific moment of the accident that is shown in this Doordarshan program. The voice emphatically claims 1962 as the exact year, while others mumble and wonder.
As a result of mining below the ground, the built structures above ground are also in danger of collapsing.
Inspite of all efforts and precautions taken, some lives are lost.
The wounded are immediately given medical attention.
In this segment, it is shown how mining accidents often lead to serious wounds, loss of function in arms and amputation of limbs. Many workers also die in the mines.
In 1954 a scientific experiment was also undertaken by the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Kolar. It is unclear from the voice over exactly what the experiments were for, though it seems to indicate research about earthquakes.
The voice over also seems to suggest that the study is useful to mining, and that on the basis of this study here, it is possible to determine safety standards during mining and avert danger from falling rocks
(undecipherable) (reference to the price of gold itself)
Kolar was first mined in 1881, and since then a lot has been extracted from the earth and dirt …(undecipherable)
The flow of water takes the mined pieces of rocks to a treatment plant … (undecipherable).
During this process of finding gold, there is a strict eye on the security.
Gold, which is 19 times heavier than water and.. (undecipherable) keeps collecting in a tray.
The security process during the mining of gold that is merely suggested in this Doordarshan national television programme, is more clearly indicated in the footage for Janaki Nair's film 'After the Gold' (1997).
In this clip the miners undergo a body search and are stripped down to their underwear, their shoes are removed, to determine whether they are carrying out any gold from the mines or treatment plant.
Tejas Pande in his research on Kolar Gold Fields too states this.
"The Criminal Tribes Act was also implemented exclusively in the KGF in order to keep the thieving tribal population in check – in the process of which they were indiscriminately searched, harassed and restricted in their movements. Folklore bears witness to the practices of checking men even in their rectum for pieces of gold amalgam, sponge gold, and even quartz while Thurston deemed appropriate that the Korava women jump the lack of their hesitation of hiding away small pieces of gold or jewels in their genitals."
The gold is then inspected and weighed before.. (undecipherable)
The process of extracting gold from the mines has to go through many levels of cleaning and extraction, to get the purest form of gold. Gold is an extremely soft metal and is also the most dense. It weighs 19 times the equal volume of water and has a density of 19.32 grams/cm3.
These natural properties are the reasons why even the ordinary person can find gold by panning.
In the periodic table, Gold is Au from the Latin word aurum which means gold, and is also linked etymologically to Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn. Aurora means dawn and to shine. The luster of gold is where the name aurum is derived from. Gold itself is derived from a proto-Germanic word that refers to gold and the colour yellow-green and bright.
The gold that is taken out from the depths of the earth, is then seen in its fully lustrous glory.
The tarazu or balance that is used to weigh gold is so sensitive as to change with even slight shifts of weight.
The making of this particular brick of gold commemorates 100 years of gold mining in Kolar.
The gold brick that Indira Gandhi holds in her hand says '100th year of mining in Kolar'
After going through all the processes required to extract and make gold, this priceless object reaches .. (undecipherable)
Pure gold is not precious merely because of it sparkle and glitter, but also because of its priceless qualities. Its used for dentistry, (undecipherable) and it is used in space travel. For instance, the umbilical cord that connects the astronaut to the space craft is made of gold, because it is strong and doesn't break easily.
Every year in India, only (undecipherable) quantities of gold is produced, which mostly is taken out of Kolar in Karnataka and other mines in the country. But this is not enough for the growing demand for gold. Though Kolar is located in an area about 80 km long, where there is a possibility of finding gold, even if it is searched and found, it is not easy to undertaking mining for gold. After seeing the various needs for gold, this search has become even more necessary.
As per Indian culture and practices, gold is symbolic of social prestige. According to one estimate, if 25% of the Indian population requires gold for weddings, functions, celebrations etc, even then the demand would be 7 tonnes of gold.
The allure of gold whoever it captures, is about the attractive, practical and.. (undecipherable) facets of gold, and this allure is (undecipherable) intrinsically part of Indian culture and tradition.