INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 91 (8/12/1944)

This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: INR 91).


I. "MUSLIMS WIN BOMBAY PENTANGULAR TOURNAMENT FINAL" Cricket veteran Hardstaff comments "I don't remember a more thrilling match in my life" in response to the Hindu-Muslim cricket encounter in Bombay. Featured players include Vinoo Mankad, Sohoni, Vijay Merchant and Kishinchand for the Hindus and Ibrahim, Ghaus Mohammed, C K Naidu and Wazir Ali for the Muslims. His Excellency Sir John Colville, Governor of Bombay, meets the Hindu captain and the rest of the teams. The Muslims win by one wicket.

II. "MEN ONLY" Producer Peter Albrecht prepares dress rehearsal for "Men Only", a performance featuring members of the Royal Indian Navy and Royal Navy, in aid of the Combined Navies Benevolent Fund. Designer prepares costumes which are "not only nautical but naughty" although "if the girls were like these they could not have been that very naughty". Scenes of an Indian dancing and "young men loosening up for their big number".

III. "E.K.CAMA SETS WORLD RECORD FOR BLOOD DONATIONS" Mr Cama, "a clerk earning a clerk's salary" receives ten thousand rupees for donating a world record eighty one pints of blood to India's blood banks.

IV. "DON BOSCO APOSTLE OF YOUTH" Sir Andrew Clow, Governor of Assam, visits some of the orphan boys being cared for by the Salesians, a Catholic order set up by Don (Father) Bosco. Commentary notes that the Salesians are "a humble people with a very simple idea that they learned from an Italian priest, Don Bosco". The commentary notes that "everyone knows orphan boys must be guided, cared for", an example of "Christian Charity".

V. "THE PUNJAB MAIL DISASTER" Scenes showing the wreckage of a mail train, aftermath a rail disaster in the Punjab in which nine people were killed and a further sixty injured. A train travels across the now single-lined culvert as people watch on. A fully equipped hospital train approaches the section as expert nurses, surgeons, stretcher-bearers and a complete blood transfusion unit get underway with their "work of mercy".


Summary: film not viewed; synopses based on commentary sheets.



Indian News Parade 91 opens with coverage of the final of the Bombay Pentangular between the Muslim and Hindu teams. The match was described in The Times of India as ‘by far the most exciting finish ever seen in the Bombay Pentangular… a final that will be remembered for years to come’, while historian Ramachandra Guha has more recently argued that ‘for quality of play and dramatic shifts of interest this match was the equal of any in the history of Indian cricket’. However, it also assumed a broader historical significance, as a match ‘contested between two large and increasingly hostile groupings’. ‘Like the partition of India’ wrote Guha, ‘it was a desperately close-run thing: and the Muslims won in the end’ (Guha, 2002, 295, 296). 

The Pentangular was strongly criticised and opposed in many quarters because it was seen to foster communalism. In 1940, the Bombay Chronicle ran an editorial entitled ‘Bury the Pentangular’, which argued that while the ‘communal basis may have helped to stimulate the game in its early career’, the tournament should now be replaced by a ‘more congenial form’ (Guha, 2002, 277). Radio commentary of the tournament was banned during this same year and replaced with coverage of the less popular Ranji trophy, while in 1942 the United Provinces Cricket Association passed a resolution that urged action to ‘rid the country of the canker of communal cricket as it tends to retard unity and good fellowship in the country. Is it not deplorable for Hindus to play against their Muslim brethren and vice versa?’ (Majumdar, 2006, 56). Cricket historian Mihir Bose argued however, that if the communal aspect ‘intensified the divisions of India, cricket was the gainer’ as it fostered a fierce competitiveness and popular interest in the sport which greatly aided its development within India (Bose, 1990, 36).

These debates and discourses were also played out during the 1944 Pentangular. Before start of play the Bombay Pradesh Congress Committee urged a boycott of the tournament, stating that ‘communal cricket in these days of increased communal tension is definitely detrimental to the interests of the nation’ (Guha, 2002, 293). However, eyewitness accounts were quick to point out the good spirit between the teams. ‘Communalism was nowhere in evidence and everyone, including the Hindus, cheered the Muslim team at the end of the match’ recalled Vasant Raiji. ‘Merchant, the Hindu captain, went to the Muslim dressing room and hugged Mushtaq Ali warmly with the words “Well played Muslims, you deserved to win. It would have been a sad day for cricket if you had lost”’(Majumdar, 2006, 54). The 1944 tournament also highlighted the continued popularity of the competition, despite the criticisms, as almost 200,000 people were said to have watched the final over its four days (Guha, 2002, 293).

The film concludes with footage of ‘The Punjab Mail Disaster’, a train crash which occurred on the night of 23 November 1944 while travelling from Lahore to Calcutta. An inquiry into the disaster, which killed 8 people and left 89 injured, found that the derailment was caused by sabotage as a rail was deliberately removed from the track. One death sentence and ‘two life transportations’ were passed in connection with this (International Railway Gazette, 1946, 565). Historian David A. Campion noted that in the decades prior to independence ‘trains never lost their appeal as the object of anti-government fury. To disrupt the smooth running of the rail system remained the easiest and most dramatic way to strike at the heart of the colonial regime and cripple its military and economic power’ (Campion, 2006, 145).



Indian News Parade 91 provides coverage of one of the great cricket matches of colonial India. The newsreel evidently recognised the popular interest in the Pentangular – apparent also by the crowds shown at the ground – and sought to bring this event to a wider audience. However, it makes no reference to the criticisms labelled at the tournament, and while obviously talking in terms of the Hindu and Muslim teams, presents this encounter in a purely cricketing context. The commentary retains a flippant tone, familiar within much of the series; ‘Merchant, one of India’s greatest batsmen. He did a hundred percent better than Sohoni. He scored one’.

The Pentangular was widely criticised for emphasising the racial and religious divisions within India and defining the country in these terms. However, while this newsreel highlights the many distinct racial groups within India, it ultimately promotes a spirit of camaraderie and goodwill across these disparate groups. For example, the second item shows European and Indian naval officers rehearsing a revue at a Bombay theatre. The Europeans perform a traditional music hall act, dressing up as women, while watched by a crowd of laughing Indian men. Next, the Indian dancers are shown with sticks and in traditional dress, accompanied by ‘local’ music, while the Europeans watch. The commentator highlights here the cultural differences – ‘you’ve seen how they used to dance in Brighton. Here’s how they dance in Bengal’ – as the film plays up to national stereotypes. Yet, the film emphasises that these diverse cultures are now working together within the war effort ­– ‘in aid of the Combined Navies Benevolent Fund’ – and further notes the common role of the men, as ‘they all have their naval duties next morning’.

Indeed, while there is no war footage here, the newsreel still serves in part to encourage and generate support for the war effort. This is again evident in the item showing E.K. Cama setting a world record for blood donations. This item has a number of purposes. First, it shows the effort and contribution of the common man – ‘Mr Cama is not a famous social personality. In fact he is a clerk earning a clerks salary’ – towards the war effort. It offers recognition and reward for this everyman and highlights Indian support at home for the war effort (he ‘served…his fellow men’). Secondly, the film seeks to highlight the advances in medicine and the social welfare provided for the troops, through these blood transfusions. In particular here, the item stresses that blood transfusions are not dangerous – ‘the loss of eighty-one pints of blood has not left Mr Cama any the worse’. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the film seeks to encourage others to give blood as the commentator concludes by talking directly to the viewer – ‘well then, how about a pint of yours?’

The newsreel concludes with footage of the Punjab rail disaster, but makes no reference to the sabotage or reasons behind the disaster. Instead, the item focuses on the rescue and recovery efforts – ‘Hope was soon on the spot’, a ‘fully equipped hospital train was rushed to the section’, while a blood transfusion unit ‘was soon at their work of mercy’. The film thus foregrounds the rapid and united response to the disaster, rather than the reasons for it.

Tom Rice (March 2009)


Works Cited

Bose, Mihir, A History of Indian Cricket (London: Andre Deutsch Ltd., 1990).

Campion, David A., ‘Railway Policing and Security in Colonial India, c.1860-1930’, Our Indian Railway: Themes in India's Railway History, Roopa Srinivasan, Manish Tiwari, and Sandeep Silas eds. (New Delhi: Foundation Books, 2006).

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

Majumdar, Boria, Lost Histories of Indian Cricket: Battles off the Pitch (London: Routledge, 2006).

Railway Gazette International, v.84, 1946, 565.



  • INDIAN NEWS PARADE NO 91 (8/12/1944)
Series Title:

Technical Data

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

Production Credits

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







Production Organisations