Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pune shining on PBS

When Jason Maloney, freelance producer of news and documentary, started his research on the city that most aptly reflects the changing face of the country for a documentary for US-based Public Broadcast Service (PBS), he zeroed in on Pune. "We were looking for a city that was on the growth highway, but not spurred only by the IT. Also the city needed to be not as well known as Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore since those have been done too many times for American audiences," said Maloney who arrived in Pune on Sunday night with Kira Kay, his wife and also a freelance producer and Paul Beban, Correspondent HDNet/ World Report.

According to him, Surat was in the running but it had only the diamond trade to speak of while Ahmedabad was interesting but lacked in some vital aspects. Pune, with its rich educational and cultural background and a recent survey that put the city on the 6th position in terms of per capita GDP growth fitted the bill perfectly.

The team of three will be filming Pune in its various new avatars before they fly back to New York on Saturday to put together two 30-minute documentaries on the city. With the focus being mainly on the growth of the middle and the upper class in India, the trio, that did extensive research before they arrived in the city, have already scoured Hinjewadi, traveled to a remote village near Pune tracing the roots of a budding IT professional in the city, met up with a stock broker and chatted up the members of the nascent Professionals Party of India.

On the agenda is also a visit to Magarpatta City, Bharat Forge and meeting up with more of Pune's burgeoning and aspirational middle class. "The attempt is to show a day in the life of Pune. As we talk of the city's growth we want to do it through the stories of the people who are crafting this change and then back it up with statistics and so on," said Kay.

She added that the huge billboards selling apartments that greeted them as they got off the Expressway followed by the sight of the mammoth construction going on in the city further reiterated their opinion that Pune is certainly a new city in the making. "It seems busy and bustling. Back in the US it's comparable to Atlanta both in terms of size and dynamics," added Beban.

Before the Pune visit the team had been to Tamil Nadu where they met up with Gurcharan Das in Coonoor and had a two-hour discussion with him on Indian economy.

"He prepared us on what to expect. Because of that we haven't had too many surprises, certainly no unpleasant ones," added Maloney. Coincidentally, all three of them are receiving the National Headlines award this Saturday in the US for different reports that they covered recently in Philippines and Uganda.

The first documentary is expected to be aired around mid-June on `Now on PBS' while the second one will be broadcast on HDNet World Report in July.

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