Gurinder Chadha: “Partition:1947 is an eye opener and my chance to rewrite history”

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Gurinder Chadha

Best known for her crossover films Bend It Like Beckham and Bride & Prejudice, director Gurinder Chadha is now bringing her latest outing Partition: 1947. The film has been in news since it brings to fore what truly transpired before the decision to divide India and Pakistan was taken back in 1947. While the film is releasing on the 70th anniversary of India’s independence from the British and arrives on 18th August, the makers are now shying away from declaring loud and clear that there was a big international conspiracy (and not the infighting between the Indians) that led to the decision of partition.

We get into a chat with the filmmaker.

It is a pleasure to be in touch, Gurinder. It has been a long gap of seven years between your last release It’s a Wonderful Afterlife and now Partition: 1947. You must not have bargained for that, isn’t it?

The reason for that is PARTITION: 1947 took eight years to get made. In this time we did extensive research reading books, watching films, plays and interviewing survivors of partition and their relatives. These stories all influenced the final film. This is such a personal film for me and my family and I have been wanting to make it my whole life. I would have loved to have made my film sooner but I believe that in life everything has its own time for being realized. There is a bigger reason that this film needed to be released to the world at this particular time.

I am sure you must be waiting with bated breath to see how Partition: 1947 finds an audience on its 18th August release, isn’t it?

I am delighted the film is being released in Hindi and English in India. It will be an eye opener for anyone interested in India’s history and my opportunity to re-write the history of the Raj as told by the British until now. If we don’t tell our own history from our perspective it will be lost. I grew up made to feel that Partition was our fault because we were fighting with each other and the British had no choice but to divide India. My film reveals that this narrative is false. Partition was a Political act driven by British strategic decisions.

Moreover, the promo pretty much proclaims loud and clear that the film further unearths a conspiracy like never before. Do you wish to elaborate on that?

My film is based on Top-Secret British documents that look at what Britain and America had to gain from the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. As part of my research I read Narindra Singh Sarila’s THE SHADOW OF THE GREAT GAME, which exposes these Top Secret Government files that had been sealed for fifty years. These documents show that the decision to divide India was influenced by the World Map and who would retain power in the region.

A film belonging to this stage, set up and genre is bound to bring along quite a few controversies as well. Are you already bracing up for that in weeks to come?

For me, this is my perspective on what happened to my grandmother and family during 1947 and why. People may disagree but what’s important is that discussions are being started around Partition. I can only make a film that is my vision of what happened. I have tried to make a human, healing film that does not simply lay blame or turn leaders into villains.

Considering the fact that this is a big day indeed when the film releases, how are you looking at the film making some global noise en route its arrival?

The film has generated an incredible range of discussions in the UK, Australia, France and South Africa, where it released earlier this year. It’s appalling that in the UK now children are not taught that Britain had an Empire. In many parts of the world, people know nothing about how India got its freedom. I hope my film will encourage global audiences to find out more about what happened so it can never happen again.

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