This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: INR 39).



I. INDIAN AIR FORCE SQUADRON COMMANDERS FOREGATHER AT DELHI - Music: 'Flying Squad'. Group Captain Proud is saying goodbye to IAF Squadron Commanders, but the Indian public is saying hello to some striking new personalities. For instance, meet Wing Commander Mukherjee. If we had only known it at the time Mukherjee was making news way back in '33 when he was the first of the pioneers of our Air Force. Nowadays everybody knows him as the daring young man who helped to beat the Fakir of Ipi. Arjun Singh and Hem Chaudhuri are people you are going to hear more of too. For instance, the way these men pay flying visits is news to us. One of them got his signal to attend this conference late the night before. He hopped into his plane, flew 1000 miles straight through a moonless night, and got there in time for an early breakfast. They say we are all going to have planes like these when the peace comes - but I wonder whether we will have that amount of nerve. New names - new careers for those of our young men who think life is slow.


II. CALCUTTA WELCOMES A CHINESE GOODWILL MISSION - Music: 'Tres Jolie'. Actually, they are on their way to London, but when they stopped off at Calcutta the Chinese delegates found plenty of goodwill in India too. Naturally there was a tea party; the Chinese have turned drinking tea into a very graceful ceremonial, but the guest at this party given by Mr N R Sircar weren't interested in that side of China. When the Japanese started their attempted robbery, they didn't find the kettle boiling on the hob to welcome them - but they certainly boiled themselves a pretty kettle of fish. And it was that tale of fighting China that India wanted to hear about. Dr Wang Shih Chief is leading the Mission round the world - and here's hoping that it ends up in Tokyo.


III. SUGAR IS FOOD - Music: 'Liebestraume'. When the caterpillar tracks of Japanese tanks rumbled into Burma, they set India a new problem of feeding herself. Well, it's the same invention but here it's being put to peaceful used, working to extend one of India's Sugar plantations. Sugar is made up of three things; carbon - that's the stuff that coal is made of and two gases, hydrogen and oxygen - that's something like the air we breathe. What happens is that the Indian sun, beating down on these giant grasses, uses their tiny cells as a factory - and makes sugar. So what these men are cutting and collecting is really sticks of energy - and just as you can't live without sunlight - unless you come from England - so you can't live without the energy that sugar provides. The juice is crushed out of the stalks, and dried at this stage. Rather bigger than you thought. It's sugar candy now and it goes to be ground into sugar for your table. This machine looks as though the engineer was just having fun, but it's actually a filter. And here it is; as vital as vitamins - so don't waste it.


IV. TENNIS STARS SERVE - Music: 'Serenade'. Love-15, love-30, but China's star player, Choy, loves his fellow men, and that's why he is playing an exhibition match with India's Sawhny at Lahore. The proceeds go one half to China and one half to Bengal relief. Choy came up smiling to win two sets to one. But Indian tennis means Ghaus Mohammed. He is playing Iftikhar Ahmad, and if he looks to you so fast that you can't see what he is doing, that's how Iftakar Ahmad felt about him too. All four stars were in the doubles. The stars shown with their usual brilliance, but the sun didn't and bad light stopped the play, but it didn't stop Choy's gallant effort to help his countrymen and ours.


V. A RECONNAISSANCE OF BENGAL'S SUPPLY PROBLEMS - Music: 'Flight of the Bumble Bee'. He is giving General Stuart the layout of the battlefield - that's Army's battle against the Bengal Famine. The army, using to fighting a stubborn enemy is helping the civilian authorities, and as you see here the people are gratefully helping the army. General Stuart is the officer commanding troops in Bengal, and in this crisis that means that he is the officer commanding the great work of mercy. Here's the man. And here's his problem. It's a battlefield where victory is won, where lives are saved.



Indian News Parade, which first appeared in September 1943, highlighted a growing, if somewhat belated, awareness on the part of the Indian Government of the pedagogical and propagandist value of film. Until this point, there had been a number of imported newsreels shown in India, including Gaumont British News, British Paramount News and British Movietone News, yet in 1940 the Bombay Chronicle had called for a specifically Indian newsreel, ‘Indian in its outlook and meant to serve India’ (Fazalbhoy, 1942, 19). In 1942, Y.A. Fazalbhoy, the Director-in-Charge of the National Studios Ltd, Bombay, published a pamphlet entitled ‘A Plea for Indian Newsreels’, proposing a ‘regular and systematic newsreel’, which must be of ‘the genuine home made variety’ (Fazalbhoy, 1942, 3). The Motion Picture Council suggested that this proposed newsreel should contrast with the existing British imports, not only in subject matter, but also in its political agenda, as the imported newsreels provided ‘imperial propaganda’ and served to ‘glorify British Imperialism’ (Fazalbhoy, 1942, 23).

Against the backdrop of increasing Indian nationalism, the Indian Government was forced into a more interventionist role in its approach to cinema. The Indian Government stopped the screening of the US Government-produced United News after deeming it ‘to be of great propaganda value to the general war effort but … specifically a US one’ (Sargent, 1999, 32). In September 1942, the Ministry of Information confirmed the establishment of a fortnightly Indian-produced newsreel, Indian Movietone News. This was widely criticised, both by Indian audiences and British officials in London, and was replaced in September 1943 by Indian News Parade, which would be ‘directly run’ by the Government, as it assumed control of propaganda film production.

Indian News Parade appeared weekly in English, Hindustani, Bengali, Telugu and Tamil, and thus played not only at the English language cinemas (of which there were approximately 200 in British India at this time), but also within the larger number of Indian and touring cinemas. Indian News Parade employed eight cameramen throughout India and, until March 1946, there were eighty-nine copies of the newsreel distributed weekly. By the time of its demise the entire unit ‘consisted of one hundred and sixty four Indians and six Europeans, with all the necessary administration’ (Cowan, 2001, 11).

Indian News Parade No. 39 was produced in December 1943 in the midst of the Bengal famine. The famine had reached its apogee in the autumn, with mortality rates reaching their peak around December. Estimates suggest that at least one million Bengalis died of famine in the latter half of 1943, and it was only late in 1943 with the delivery of rice from storehouses in Calcutta, and with the gathering of a large paddy harvest, that the situation began to ease in some areas (Greenough, 1982).

The issue also shows Dr Wang Shieh-Chieh, a one-time Minister of Education in China, visiting India. Shieh-Chieh led a goodwill mission to England, in which he met Churchill and King George, to promote the notion that Britain and China should be ‘co-architects of Peace’ (Time, 21 February 1944). British parliamentarians had visited China late in 1942, following ‘an alarming depression in Anglo-Chinese relations’. British failures in Hong Kong, Singapore and Burma coupled with her reluctance to accept China as an ally on an equal footing, fuelled the high level of mistrust felt on both sides. Furthermore, the Chinese leader, Chiang Kai-Shek, had paid regular visits to India and Burma and had spoken to Roosevelt about Britain’s India policy in 1942, urging Britain to give India her ‘real political power’ (Shai, 1984).



Although structured in five parts, the newsreel addresses three main themes: the emergence, with British help, of a modern India; the ongoing food shortage in Bengal; and the importance of relations with China.

The first section, while ostensibly illustrating the Indian war effort, also serves to promote a modern westernised Indian identity. Emphasising modern transport and offering the possibility of a new world – ‘They say we are all going to have planes like these when peace comes’ – the film contrasts strongly with the final section on Bengal’s supply problems. This contrast is emphasised by the representation of the Indian subjects. In the first item, the camera introduces individual Indian personalities, relaxed and sharing the screen with the British Group Captain. In the final item, which is the one item shot by a British cameraman, General Stuart is positioned over a mass of locals. A point-of-view shot from the commander presents this issue entirely from a British perspective. ‘Here is the man’, the commentary explains, ‘and here is his problem’ as the camera reveals a starving Indian public. This statement highlights the complete isolation of the British rulers from the wider Indian public.

The Bengal famine is presented as a further war and battle, yet the film is careful to remove responsibility for the food shortage from the British. In the third item, the commentary refers to India’s ‘new problem of feeding herself’ and in the final item, the British help is described as ‘the great work of mercy’, with the people ‘gratefully helping the army’. The sense of Indian autonomy presented in the first item is now used to shift responsibility for this famine away from the British. It is hardly surprising that no dissension is shown, and the emphasis on supply distribution – as opposed to graphic scenes of starvation – is consistent with other entries in Indian News Parade.

The food issue is closely related to the issue of modernisation, particularly in the third item. Here, the long shot of figures cutting and collecting sugar cane over a vast expanse of land, contrasts with the industrialised factory process that is then shown. The triumphal music accompanying the factory scenes privileges modern industrial processes. This again emphasises both the need for continued British involvement in India, but by virtue of the westernised industry, presents the British as a solution to, rather than cause of, the food shortage. The section concludes by urging viewers not to waste their food, supporting rationing which was introduced earlier in 1943.

The film strongly endorses the relationship between India and China, but the civilised surroundings in which this relationship is shown – a tea party and tennis – serves to bond these two countries not only to each other, but also to the traditions of Britain. At the tea party, Chinese women smoke cigarettes and appear in western clothing, while the privileged classes are again depicted at tennis, presenting the Chinese as civilised British allies.

Tom Rice (February 2008)


Works Cited

Cowan, Jude, ‘”Women at Work for War… Women at Work for the things of Peace”: Representations of Women in the British Propaganda Newsreel in India in the Second World War, Indian News Parade’ (unpublished master’s thesis, Birkbeck College, University of London, 2001), accessed at Imperial War Museum.

Fazalbhoy, Y. A., A Plea For Indian Newsreels (Bombay: The Popular Printing Press, 1942).

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

Sargent, Paul, ‘Indian News Parade: The First Indian Newsreel’, IWM Review, No. 12 (1999), 29-35.

Shai, Aron, Britain and China, 1941-47 (London: Macmillan Press, 1984).

‘Road to Friendship’, Time, 21 February 1944.

Woods, Philip, ‘The British Use of Film Propaganda in India in the Second World War’, Indian Horizons, January-March 2001.

Woods, Philip, ‘Newsreels in British Propaganda in India in the Second World War’, unpublished paper accessed at Imperial War Museum. 



Series Title:

Technical Data

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

Production Credits

Production Countries:
GB, India
Department of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India
cameraman (Indian)
Birdi, E M
cameraman (Indian)
Ghatak, S C
cameraman (Indian)
Mitra, B C
cameraman (Indian)
Sen, A K
cameraman (PR)
Langley (Captain)
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)
Moylan, William J (FRGS, FRSA)







Production Organisations