One of the nostalgic experiences for anyone visiting Ooty (also called Uthagamandalam / Ootacamund) is a ride on the Mountain Rail from Mettupalayam to Ooty (Especially upto Coonoor on the steam engine train). The “Toy Train” as it is called by some people is one of the characteristic features of the Nilgiris and for a tourist it is a very romantic experience and is very popular especially with honeymooners. It has the steepest climb (1 in 12 gradient) and with its special ‘Rack and Pinion’ tracks the train snakes its way through the jungle to Ooty via Coonoor. Built by the British in 1908, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway has been added by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and celebrated its 100th birthday a few years ago.
Being born and brought up in the Nilgiris the nostalgia I feel about the train is very different from that of a tourist visiting Ooty. I have very fond memories of the many journeys I undertook on this beautiful train or just being able to see this beauty pass by every now and then through the tunnel and the station at Lovedale and other places. This documentary brought back pleasant memories of my days in the Nilgiris. Thanks to BBC for making such a fantastic Documentary.
This documentary won the prestigious National Film Award for the best educational film in 2013 in India. President Shri Pranab Mukharjee gave away this award in a glittering ceremony on 3rd May 2014. It is an award for an extremely efficient and precise analysis of the contributions of three renowned scientists in a manner that not only educates today’s generation but also provides insights into complex scientific phenomena in an accessible manner. At the turn of the 20th century, the world was witnessing a renaissance in the area of quantum physics through the work of great scientists such as Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Ernest Rutherford or Neils Bohr. Unknown to the world, three Indian scientists were also making significant contributions to the quantum world with revolutionary deductions, interpretations and theories.
Dr. Satyendra Nath Bose devised a statistical theory of counting photons – a revelation even to Albert Einstein — that paved the way for the two great minds to work in tandem in formulating fundamental theories as the Bose-Einstein Statistics and Bose-Einstein Condensate. Boson, the class of particles that obey Bose-Einstein statistics, was named after Dr. S. N. Bose. Sir C. V. Raman gave the world what is known as the Raman effect, which redefined how we see light and colour. Another contemporary, Dr. Meghnad Saha produced an equation that explained stellar radiation and is regarded as one of the fathers of modern astrophysics. All the three scientists started their careers at the Calcutta University, became Fellows of the Royal Society, and Raman was the first and only Indian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for physics.
The film is a tribute to the three exemplary minds, the significance of whose contributions was of vital importance during that time, and even today with great strides being made in quantum physics, fibre optics, nuclear science or astrophysics. They were not only great scientists, but were rooted to the social and political realities of the time and dedicated their lives to modern science in India. Along with being institutions by themselves, they built stellar institutions in the country that inspired many great scientists of the following generations.