75 years on from one of the 20th century’s greatest catastrophes India 1947: Partition in Colour (2x60) tells the story of the personal rivalries between the key players at the centre of partition – Nehru, Jinnah, and Mountbatten – and what impact their relationships had on this momentous event.
Using archive that has been colourised for the first time and private documents the film looks at events leading up to and including partition. Starting in 1946, following six years of war Britain is bankrupt, under prime minister Attlee the UK government shapes a new policy for freeing India, presenting its draft plan for Independence to Nehru and Jinnah in June that year.
The films follows the extraordinary events that unravel in the context of the rumoured affair between Nehru, India’s prime minister and Edwina Mountbatten, Lord Mountbatten’s wife, and the growing enmity between Mountbatten and Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League whilst negotiations for independence and partition are taking place; the lack of action from all three camps as violence begins to escalate; and the chaos that Mountbatten’s decision to wrap up almost a century of British Rule in ten weeks rather than a year causes.
Cyril Radcliffe was given the task of creating the border between India and Pakistan. His private secretary Christopher Beaumont, wanted to set the record straight about what really happened when the partition line was drawn. With privileged access to Beaumont’s private unpublished memoir, this documentary reveals his account of what occurred during those crucial final few days leading up to 15th August – Independence Day – when the line was changed at the very last minute.
The film includes interviews with historians such as Shruti Kapila, Professor of Indian History at Cambridge University, Adeel Hussain, historian at Leiden University, and Andrew Lownie author of The Mountbattens: Their Lives and Loves. The documentary also includes contributors such as Lakshman Menon, Grandson of Mountbatten’s chief aide V. P. Menon – who’s plan for India and Pakistan Mountbatten took and passed for his own. Lakshman sheds a fascinating light on the pivotal role his grandfather played and the legacy he left behind.
The film was commissioned by Shaminder Nahal, Head of Specialist Factual, she said: “75 years on, this series tries to bring to life one of the most tumultuous events of the 20th century for a new audience. With the help of historians and relatives of some key players, the films examine the decisions taken by the main protagonists and the terrible events that followed. As the contributors grippingly convey, it’s history that shudders with resonance for today”.
Nick Hornby, Executive Producer, Optomen said: “Our hope is to bring the story of Partition to life for a new generation and shed new light on the how the personalities involved helped shape one of the most shocking chapters in the history of the British Empire”.