INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 62 (19/5/1944)

This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: INR 62).


I. "MR. GANDHI RELEASED" Gandhi is released from the Aga Khan's palace after a year and a half. Initial scenes of correspondents standing at the palace gates, but, "as Mr Aney explained to enquiring journalists, Mr Gandhi could be seen by no one". After his illness and release, "People flocked to welcome him back. The people....and their leaders...among them Doctor Gilder.....Mr Bhulabhai Desai and Mr Gandhi's son. Scenes of a sick Gandhi in "the familiar third class carriage" although commentary also notes, "he has lost none of that cheerful kindliness which has endeared him to his followers". Gandhi drives to Juhu while "everyone wishes him a speedy return to health".

II. "B.N.R. WIN THE BEIGHTON CUP" Hockey match between BNR (Bengal Najpur Railway) and Jiwaji, won by BNR by one goal. Sir Biren Mukherjee, President of the Bengal Hockey Association meets the teams and offers words of thanks at end of match. Prize bowls are distributed to players by Mrs Skinner.

III. "DR. KHARE VISITS POLISH REFUGEE CAMP AT KOLHAPUR" Doctor Khare visits Polish children at a refugee camp at Kolhapur. Commentary notes that "at least, the children who have come to India have seen a new country, got broader ideas" whereas the Nazis had dubbed the Poles "degenerate" and "sub-human".

IV. "CHAPATTIS BY PARACHUTE FOR INDIAN TROOPS IN ITALY" An isolated Indian troop unit positioned on Hangman's Hill outside Cassino receive food supplies - chapattis - by parachute after a request for food. Scenes of chapattis being packed by British troops in shockproof containers and fixed beneath wings of supply planes. The supplies are dropped by parachute, one aspect of "Allied Command of the Italian skies" and Indian troops collect while exposed to enemy fire.

V. "GENERAL STUART THANKS TROOPS FOR SUCCESS OF BENGAL RELIEF WORK" General Stuart thanks the officers and men involved in the operation to feed and carry medicine and drugs to Bengalis during the famine. Stuart travels along waterways to Dacca and gives OBI to Indian Officers "for their work for their countrymen".

VI. "BEHIND THE LINE ON THE ARAKAN FRONT" Nurses in a prison hospital tent tend Japanese prisoners of war, those men "lucky enough to get out of Tojo's war into this peace and quiet". Japanese prisoners act as orderlies to their fellow soldiers. Scenes of Red Cross ambulances watering roads before transporting prisoners to river steamers in order to avoid dust clouds being seen from the air. As commentary notes, "a work of mercy like this has time and time again been thrown into chaos by a deliberately aimed bomb from a Jap plane". Scene of steamer departing with "mercy load".


Summary: film not viewed; synopses based on commentary sheets.



Indian News Parade 62 opens with coverage of Gandhi’s release from his incarceration in the Aga Khan’s Palace on 6 May 1944. Philip Woods noted that ‘the appearance of the Mahatma in the Indian newsreel stood in marked contrast to his almost complete absence from the British newsreels during the war’, suggesting that this could be explained, in part, by the Government’s refusal to allow cameramen access to Gandhi (Woods, 2000, 104). Indian film historian B.D. Garga suggests that such an event was ‘too big for the official agencies to ignore’, yet Gandhi’s appearance in the newsreel infuriated the Home Department. In a note market ‘SECRET’, the home department wrote to the Secretary of Information and Broadcasting and complained that this event ‘should not have been given any film publicity’. ‘We regard Gandhi and the other Congress leaders AS ENEMIES OF THE STATE’, a further note remarked, ‘and therefore deserving of no support whatsoever by the State, even the indirect support that publicity to their doings in a state-produced newsreel offers’ (Garga, 2007, 105).

The Government announced Gandhi’s release in a press statement. ‘In view of the medical reports of Mr Gandhi’s health’, it began, ‘Government have decided to release him unconditionally. The decision has been taken solely on medical grounds’ (Indian Information, 15 May 1944, 537). Churchill had opposed plans to release Gandhi, who had been detained since August 1942, but Gandhi’s health had seriously deteriorated with the after-effects of malaria, and Wavell, the Viceroy of India, convinced Churchill that his death in custody would be a political disaster and only increase anti-Government sentiment. Wavell also speculated, inaccurately, that Gandhi’s health would prevent him from continuing in politics.

The Times, in writing on Gandhi’s release, claimed that ‘the press, both Nationalist and British owned, has warmly welcomed the Government’s move. There is a wide feeling that credit for the release is due to Lord Wavell, whose prestige, already high, has been increased’ (The Times, 8 May 1944, 4). Churchill, whose dislike of Gandhi has been widely noted, was less impressed. Indeed, Wavell’s diary contained an entry less than two months after Gandhi’s release stating, ‘Winston sent me a peevish telegram to ask me why Gandhi hadn’t died yet’ (Wolpert, 2006, 65).

Indian News Parade 62 also provides an update on the Bengal Famine – featured in at least nine of the previous twenty-five editions – which suggested that the famine had now been defeated. While the famine had reached its apex at the end of 1943, epidemics were rife in rural Bengal until the end of 1944, and Paul Greenough further noted that ‘disease mortality stayed well above the pre–famine levels till at least the middle of 1946’. Greenough concluded that while popularly referred to as the famine of ‘1943-44’, the famine ‘can be said to have begun in December 1942 and ended in mid-1946’ with relief work from voluntary organisations continuing well into 1946 (Greenough, 1982, 141).

Philip Woods noted that the newsreel represented the Bengal famine as a ‘natural disaster which government and armed forces were acting effectively to combat’. This approach, as Woods argued, overlooked the now widely acknowledged ‘man-made’ causes (Woods, 2000, 103). Wavell had informed Amery in 1943 that the famine in Bengal was ‘largely due to ministerial incompetence’ – as emphasised by many Indians at the time – and the new Governor of Bengal, Richard Casey, strongly outlined the accumulated failings of the British within the province in his correspondence with Wavell (Wolpert, 2006, 62).

The Indian News Parade’s triumphalist approach to the Bengal famine did not always play well at local screenings. Sanjoy Bhattacharya suggested that district officers adapted the official Government lecture notes and were particularly uncomfortable with episodes that ‘combined snippets of Allied victories in South East Asia with images of the ever improving transport and food-supply networks in India’ (Bhattacharya, 2001, 95). The nationalist journal, Film India, had complained a year earlier, in the context of India’s famine, about footage of relief work for Polish children in Indian Movietone News 9. ‘To provide comfortable sanctuaries to foreign refugees, India has to turn her own out on the streets’, the journal argued, further adding that ‘while every foreigner whether an adventurer or a refugee, gets a happy comfortable home in India, the land of plenty, the sons of the soil are suffering from dire want and poverty’ (Film India, February 1943, 19). Over 6000 Polish refugees found shelter in stationary settlements in India between 1942 and 1948 (Piotrowski, 2004, 128).

The final item – ‘Behind the lines on the Arakan Front’ – illustrated the Indian treatment of Japanese prisoners. Sir Sultan Ahmed, the Government Minister for Information and Broadcasting, travelled to Burma in May 1944 and witnessed the work of doctors of the 7th Indian Division treating Japanese prisoners at Imphal (Indian Information, 1 June 1944, 573). Government propaganda accentuated the ‘atrocity stories’ of the Japanese treatment of Indian soldiers, claiming for example that Indian soldiers were ‘being used as live targets for bayonet practice’. These were also noted in issues of Indian News Parade (e.g. INP 53), while reports circulated of the Japanese disrespect for Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. Radio broadcasts also contrasted the ‘peace and prosperity’ of India with the economic chaos of those areas under Japanese control (Bhattacharya, 2000, 497-500). 



Indian News Parade 62 promotes British and Indian co-operation and seeks to highlight the British support for Indians at home and abroad. Philip Woods recognised the fourth item – ‘Chappatis [sic] by Parachute for Indian Troops in Italy’ – as an example of the newsreel’s emphasis on the British welfare of Indians overseas. As he notes, footage of Indian troops in Italy was often used, in part because of the difficulties in obtaining war footage from Burma, yet the item’s message of British food relief for Indian troops also supports the representation of the Bengal famine – in which the British are depicted as virtual saviours who ‘fed the people’ – which appears within the next item.

As throughout the series, the famine is described using war terminology, implying that the Indians and Britons are ‘fighting’ together against these natural enemies of ‘hunger, time and space’. Sanjoy Bhattacharya suggested that such a polemic – when evidently the problems were continuing and when the initial British response was widely condemned – would have been adapted for, or rejected by, some local audiences. Certainly when viewed in the context of the famine, two previous items showing a hockey match and Polish refugees may appear insensitive and inflammatory. First, amidst shots of affluent sections of society at a sports event, the commentator offers a flippant remark about hockey players using the large trophy bowls they were presented with ‘to grow more food’. The following item showing happy, well-fed Polish refugees may have caused further resentment – as the Film India piece suggested – in implying that the Government was more concerned, and provided better conditions, for its foreign refugees.

The footage of the Polish refugees primarily serves as war propaganda, used to contrast the compassion of the British with the atrocities of her enemies. The commentator contrasts the Polish experience under Hitler –‘the Nazis wanted to make every Pole a slave, dubbing their children as degenerate’ – to their experiences in India where ‘they have seen a new country, got brighter ideas’. This contrast is also apparent in the final item, which shows Allied nurses caring for Japanese POWs. The item promotes a distinct morality within the Allied forces, in complete contrast to the widely reported Japanese mistreatment of captured Indian soldiers. The commentator also mentions here – as in Indian News Parade 53 – the Japanese bombing of Red Cross ambulances and hospitals. Traditionally such attacks have been used as a signifier of enemy immorality – for example in reports and fictional films from the Boer War, such as Shelling the Red Cross (1900) – and this point is strengthened here as the nurses are described as ‘angels’ and the hospital tent as ‘heaven’.

The newsreel is also noteworthy for its footage of Gandhi. He is positively presented – noting for example his ‘cheerful kindliness’ – as the commentator celebrates his ‘unconditional release’. The film understandably ignores the reasons and resentments behinds his incarceration, as it seeks to maintain this more conciliatory message of British and Indian unity during the war. The commentator conveniently overlooks the sentiments of Churchill and many within the British Government, as he concludes, somewhat fancifully, that ‘everyone wishes him a speedy recovery’.

Tom Rice (January 2009)


Works Cited

Bhattacharya, Sanjoy, Propaganda and Information in Eastern India, 1939-45: A Necessary Weapon of War (London: Routledge, 2001).

Bhattacharya, Sanjoy, ‘British Military Information Management Techniques and the South Asian Soldier: Eastern India during the Second World War’, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2 (May, 2000), 483-510.

Brendon, Piers, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781 – 1997 (London: Jonathan Cape, 2007).

‘Charity Does Not Begin at Home’, Film India, February 1943, 19.

Garga, B.D., From Raj to Swaraj: The Non-Fiction Film In India (New Delhi: Penguin, 2007).

Greenough, Paul R., Prosperity and Misery in Modern Bengal, The Famine of 1943-44 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982).

‘Release of Mr Gandhi’, Indian Information, 15 May 1944, 537.

‘Sir Sultan Ahmed Visits Burma Front’, Indian Information, 1 June 1944, 573.

Piotrowski, Tadeusz, The Polish Deportees of World War II: Recollections of Removal to the Soviet Union and Dispersal Throughout the World (North Carolina: McFarland, 2004).

‘Mr Gandhi at Liberty: Indian Tributes to the Viceroy’, The Times, 8 May 1944, 4.

Wolpert, Stanley, Shameful Fight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

Woods, Philip, ‘”Chapattis by Parachute”: The Use of Newsreels in British Propaganda in India in the Second World War’, Journal of South Asian Studies, 23:2 (2000), 89-110.



  • INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 62 (19/5/1944)
Series Title:

Technical Data

Running Time:
8 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
755 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
GB, India
Department of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India
cameraman (item I)
Khopkar, A M
cameraman (item II)
Mitra, B C
cameraman (item II)
Sen, A K
cameraman (item III)
Khopkar, A M
cameraman (item IV)
P R Film Unit
cameraman (item V)
P R Film Unit
cameraman (item VI)
P R Film Unit
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)







Production Organisations