I had no plans to subscribe to Netflix again after I gave it up some years ago until I saw the trailer of its latest original series ‘Marco Polo’ yesterday. In particular, this shot above of Marco Polo (1254-1324) and two others—I think they were his brothers or may be father and uncle–crawling in the court of Kublai Khan. First, it was the color of the floor tiles that grabbed me and then the three men on their knees approaching the Great Khan in ritual servility.
Apparently, the lowly status of the visitors to the Khan court was emphasized by making them crawl. And when the visitors left, they were expected to walk backwards, not showing their backs to Khan. Despite the crawling Khan considered Marco Polo a worthy man who went on to become one of his most important confidants.
Reading up a bit about Marco Polo’s travels this morning I came upon an interesting inscription on a golden tablet that Khan presented Polo. Do bear in mind that we are talking a time when a tablet was a tablet and not a 4G device and Polo was a traveler and not a shirt or a cologne. The inscription read: "By the strength of the eternal Heaven, holy be the Khan’s name. Let him that pays him not reverence be killed." Revere me or die—a pretty minimalist expectation, wouldn’t you say?
Being the most famous Westerner to travel the Silk Road and a keen travel writer Polo has left behind accounts which form the core of this series. Everything about the story is cinematic, including the silk fineries that Khan and his courtiers were dressed in. It is commendable that Netflix, in keeping with its new business model of creating original content, gave the go-ahead to this series.
I have tried to reach out to Netflix suggesting several themes out of India but so far not received a response. As I await the release of ‘Marco Polo’ I binge-watched ‘House of Cards’, the terrific political drama that heralded Netflix’s emergence as an original content provider. I did not think it would be possible for me to binge-watch anything but I managed to finish the first four chapters of ‘House of Cards’ in almost one sitting.