NFAI gets 30 reels of rare Gandhi footage

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - NEWS NET­WORK


New Delhi: Thirty reels of rare, unedited footage of Ma­hatma Gandhi, in­clud­ing shots of him tak­ing con­trol of the SS Ra­jputana en route to London, with the cap­tain be­side him, have been se­cured from a pri­vate source by the Pune-based Na­tional Film Ar­chive of In­dia.

Al­most six hours long, the high­light of the col­lec­tion is a half-hour footage of a spe­cial train car­ry­ing Gandhi’s ashes from Madras to Ramesh­waram. The vi­su­als show thou­sands throng­ing rail­way sta­tions like Chet­ti­nad, Si­va­ganga, Chi­dambaram, Mana­madu­rai, Ram­nad and Pudukkot­tai in Tamil Nadu, with folded hands and tears in their eyes, an NFAI press re­lease said.

The footage in­cludes vi­su­als of a mass of peo­ple at what looks like Ma­rina Beach in Chennai, known then as Madras, jostling with each other while car­ry­ing flags and ban­ners to pay their last re­spects to the Ma­hatma.

The 35mm cel­lu­loid footage, stock shots with ti­tle cards in be­tween, were taken by prom­i­nent film com­pa­nies of the time, like Para­mount, Pathe, Warner, Universal, Bri­tish Movi­etone, and Wa­dia Movi­etone.

“We re­ceived these reels from a pri­vate source. There is some rare footage in this col­lec­tion. Many vi­su­als are now part of short films and doc­u­men­taries which are avail­able. Some of these shots have been used but some vi­su­als seem unique,” said Prakash Mag­dum, di­rec­tor, NFAI.

An­other reel shows the Ma­hatma’s South In­dia tour and Har­i­jan Ya­tra in 1946. The col­lec­tion also has some rare vi­su­als of V D Savarkar. There is ex­clu­sive footage of the Haripura Congress ses­sion with shots of Sub­has Chan­dra Bose. Many lead­ers, in­clud­ing Pt Nehru, Sar­dar Pa­tel, Saro­jini Naidu and Maulana Azad, fig­ure in the reels. The Ma­hatma’s meet­ing with Rabindrana­th Tagore is also part of the col­lec­tion.

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