The Massacre That Shook The Empire

Channel 4 to mark anniversary of Amritsar massacre with Sathnam Sanghera film

Category: News Release

Channel 4 has commissioned a new documentary to examine one of the darkest days in British and Indian history. In The Massacre that Shook the Empire (w/t) writer and journalist Sathnam Sanghera will explore what happened on 13th April 1919 when a British General ordered troops to gun down a crowd of men, women, children and infants who were peacefully gathered in a park in Amritsar, India. With nowhere to run or hide, hundreds were killed, and over a thousand more were wounded.

To coincide with the centenary commemoration of the massacre, the film will follow Sathnam as he retraces the build up to this shocking moment. The legacy of what happened on 13thApril will be brought home by meeting descendants of the survivors- as well as the relatives of those responsible.

A Specialist Factual commission by Shaminder Nahal, and produced by Sugar Films, the film is as much a personal journey as it is a rediscovery of a pivotal turning point in British colonial rule. As a British Sikh Punjabi, Sathnam will explore the profound implications of the massacre on the way we think about the Empire and Britishness.

Sathnam Sanghera said: “I've put my heart and soul into this investigation into what happened in Amritsar one hundred years ago. What I've found out has changed the way I see Britain and my place in it, and I hope it has a similar impact on people who watch it."

Narinder Minhas, Creative Director at Sugar Films, said: “Instead of a traditional history doc, we are proud to have brought this compelling story to life through Sathnam's deeply personal journey, all shot in a modern landscape, with a real contemporary resonance. Sathnam is uniquely and refreshingly placed to explore a story that has, until now, predominately been told by white, middle-class men.”

Shaminder Nahal, Commissioning Editor at Channel 4, said: “In this film we are investigating a shocking and surprisingly little known event 100 years ago - and asking hard questions about how we behaved at the height of the British Empire. It feels incredibly potent to reflect on British actions then, as we consider life outside the EU and what Britishness means now. I can’t think of anyone better than Sathnam Sanghera to draw these threads together with wit, passion and a constant sense of questioning and challenge .”

Producer/director: Chris Durlacher

Executive Producer: Narinder Minhas

Production Company: Sugar Films

Commissioning Editor: Shaminder Nahal