With just a few days remaining before the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) has discovered 30 reels of unedited footage on the national leader amounting to almost six hours of duration.
“It is indeed a very wonderful discovery for NFAI, coming at a time when the entire world is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. There seem to be some rare footages in this collection while many visuals are now part of available short films and documentaries. Some of these shots have been used but some visuals seem unique”, said Director NFAI, Shri Prakash Magdum.
These 35mm celluloid footages, unedited and stock shots with title cards in between, were taken by several prominent film studios of the time like Paramount, Pathe, Warner, Universal, British Movietone, Wadia Movietone among others.
A major highlight of the discovery is a rare half-an-hour footage that has visuals of a special train carrying Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes from Madras to Rameshwaram. The stunning visuals show thousands of people thronging to stations like Chettinad, Sivaganga, Chidambaram, Manamadurai junction, Ramnad, Pudukkottai junctions in Tamil Nadu, with folded hands and tears in eyes to have a glimpse of the urn carrying the Mahatma’s ashes.
The collection also has visuals of his last days including those from the period just after his death, close-ups of his body and blood-stained clothes, newspaper reports of the day, Birla House, people thronging to have a darshan and the procession to Raj Ghat.
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