INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 139 (9/11/1945)

This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: INR 139).


I. "AUSTRALIAN CRICKET TEAM ARRIVES IN INDIA". Australians arrive in Bombay for a cricket tour that will take them to six major cities of India. II. "SIR SULTAN AHMED RESIGNS FROM INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING". On the eve of his resignation from the Viceroy's Executive Council, Sir Sultan Ahmed visits the new premises of Famous Cine Laboratory which will house the Information Films of India. III. "DASSERA IN DELHI". A Dassera procession passes through Delhi in a festival that marks the Autumnal equinox. IV. "CALCUTTA TRAMWAY STRIKE CALLED OFF". Nine-day tramway strike, involving 8,000 workers is ended after negotiations with the Provisional Government. V. "ROTARY GOVERNORS OF INDIA, BURMA & CEYLON IN CONFERENCE". The governors meet to formulate the policy and programmes of Rotary for the coming year. VI. "WEST AFRICANS LEAVE INDIA". West and East African troops arrive at Bombay on their way home.



Indian News Parade 139 begins with the arrival of the Australian Services cricket team in Bombay. The Australian side, which included Lindsay Hassett as captain and Keith Miller, stopped in India on its return from a 48-match tour of England and was regarded, according to Wisden, as ‘the first official side from the Commonwealth to visit India’ (Wisden, 1946, 356). Historian Ramachandra Guhu argued that the Australians’ ‘lack of racial or class prejudice made them more popular by far than any previous side of touring Englishmen’, while Wisdensuggested that the Australians emphasised ‘the value of cricket in cementing the brotherhood of all countries in the British Empire’ (Guhu, 2002, 300). Wisden further noted that this ‘very powerful side from India’, which included Abdul Hafeez Kardar, who would captain Pakistan in their first Test series in 1952, ‘further accentuates the happy relations which cricket brings to all competing countries’ (Wisden, 1946, 62). Updates on the Australians’ tour featured in Indian News Parade142and 146.

The next item is entitled ‘Sir Sultan Ahmed resigns from Information and Broadcasting’, yet it discusses the ‘new premises of Famous Cine Laboratory’ and the government’s plans for film, without offering any insight into the resignation. Sir Sultan had spoken on 13 September 1945 before the Publicity Advisory Committee about the educative role of film in India’s future. ‘In our post-war schemes for development’, he stated, ‘it would, we think, be disastrous to ignore so potent an educative medium as the cinema. We are, therefore, considering schemes for the continuation of Information Films of India, with a special emphasis on the production and distribution of films for educational institutions’. Sir Sultan further added that ‘we are also considering how Government might help in stimulating higher cultural and technical standards in the whole film industry’ (Indian Information, 1 October 1945, 355). His comments, and certainly the extensive coverage afforded over the next few months to the Indian film industry in Indian News Parade, reflect and respond to the heightened criticisms and pressures on IFI after the War. A few months later in March 1946, IFI faced massive cuts, which prompted Sir Sultan Ahmed’s successor, Sir Akbar Hydari – announced as his replacement on 1 November 1945 – to warn the Central Assembly of the dangers of depriving the ‘constitutional government, on the eve of its coming into existence, of a machine and of technical and competent people without hope of recall’ (Indian Information, 1 April 1946, 372).

The issue also covers the Calcutta Tramways Workers’ strike, which ran for nine days from 20-28 September 1945. The strike initiated a wave of post-war working-class strikes in India, which were often communist-led and closely aligned with anti-imperialist struggles (Dutta Ray, 1992, 47). Indeed, in November, less than two weeks after the release of this newsreel, a general transport strike, supported by municipal workers, was organised primarily in protest at the trial of three Indian National Army officers on grounds of treason. The trials generated further nationalist support and the situation was exacerbated by violent confrontations between the police and students. Wavell wrote, in a letter to the Secretary of State a few days later, that ‘[Governor} Casey was impressed by the very strong anti-British feeling behind the whole demonstration, and considers the whole situation still very explosive and dangerous’. The colonial authorities credited this anti-colonial feeling to the ‘violent speeches of the leaders’, but the protests continued into 1946, most notably with a 24-hour strike in Calcutta in February after the sentencing of one of the officers (Batabyal, 2002, 207-209). 



Indian News Parade 139 is framed by the arrival and departure of boats into India. The opening item shows the arrival of the Australian cricketers – marking the resumption of civility after the war – while the film concludes with the departure of African soldiers, seemingly highlighting the end of this military presence within India. The items themselves have much in common, with a particular emphasis on Commonwealth unity. This is especially important in this post-war moment as India prepares for independence, and Britain seeks to maintain and re-order this imperial relationship. These messages of unity and camaraderie are interspersed with a series of items displaying the diversity of Indian domestic life that inadvertently reveal the broader problems facing post-war India.

These broader problems are most clearly evident in the fourth item entitled ‘Calcutta tramway strikes called off’. Despite the overall gravity of this issue, this is presented as an upbeat news item, celebrating the resolution of the strike and using, without a hint of irony, The Marriage of Figaro for its musical accompaniment. The newsreel makes no attempt to address the causes of the strikes, instead using them as an opportunity to present Calcutta as a dynamic, vibrant city, in which the citizens still ‘managed to get around even if they had to fight for a seat or a toe-hold in a lorry or bus’. The commentator celebrates the efforts of the Provincial Government and concludes that ‘the situation was handled with considerable tact’. The final lines suggest, as the title does, that the problems are now completely resolved – ‘soon Calcutta’s trams were rumbling through the streets packed to capacity’ – yet further violent strikes would follow very shortly after the release of this newsreel. These subsequent strikes would not be reported within the newsreel.

The coverage of the strike highlights Indian News Parade’s continued promotion of a colonial rhetoric in the face of growing worker unrest. The newsreel’s dislocation from much of its Indian audience certainly motivated the later item celebrating the new premises for Information Films of India. Once more, this item offers no information on the reason for Sir Sultan Ahmed’s resignation – the subject within the title – but the inclusion of this item, and many like it over the next few months, attests to the virulent opposition and antagonism directed at the IFI, as it again seeks to defend and justify its continued existence. It is also interesting to note the manner in which the government sought to define and promote film after the War, with the commentator talking of ‘visual education’, ‘a network of mobile cinemas’ and noting that film would play a ‘revolutionary part in moulding the future of India’.

The newsreel concludes with a message of imperial unity – ‘the people of many far-off lands united in the war against fascism’ – as it celebrates the efforts of West African troops, who ‘took part in the most difficult of campaigns’. The Africans are represented in familiar terms – ‘from the jungles of Burma’, ‘they were masters of jungle warfare’ – while the newsreel notes the ‘debt of gratitude that India owes to the African men’, adding that ‘many a gallant soldier of Africa fell defending the frontiers of India’. This reiterates a hierarchy in which the Africans served to protect India, while the film also highlights, to Indian audiences, the departure of African troops. Yet, this certainly did not mark the complete return of West African troops, as it was not until April 1946 that units of 82 (W.A.) division began to board for home. Haywood and Clarke in their history of the Royal West African Frontier Force acknowledged that ‘the long time awaiting shipping was very trying to the division’, as the division did not complete embarkation until September 1946 (Haywood and Clarke, 1964, 473).

Tom Rice (February 2009)


Works Cited

Batabyal, Rakesh, Communalism in Bengal: From Famine to Noakhali, 1943-47 (New Delhi: Sage, 2005).

Dutta Ray, Keka, Political Upsurges in Post-War India, 1945-46 (New Delhi: Intellectual Publishing House, 1992).

Guha, Ramachandra, A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport (London: Picador, 2002).

Haywood, A. and Clarke, F.A.S., The History of the Royal West African Frontier Force (Aldershot: Gale & Polden, 1964).

Indian Information, 1 October 1945, 355.

Indian Information, 1 April 1946, 372.

Wisden Cricketers’ Almanac 1946 (London: Sporting Handbooks Ltd, 1946).



  • INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 139 (9/11/1945)
Series Title:

Technical Data

Film Gauge (Format):

Production Credits

Production Countries:
GB, India
Department of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)