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Around India with a Movie Camera

A film by Sandhya Suri

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Award-winning filmmaker Sandhya Suri (I for India) skillfully weaves together archival footage—including hand colored sequences—with a new score by composer Soumik Datta to create an emotionally resonant story about life across India from 1899 to 1947.

Drawn exclusively from the BFI National Archive, Around India features some of the earliest surviving film from India as well as gorgeous travelogues, intimate home movies and newsreels from British, French and Indian filmmakers. Taking in Maharajas and Viceroys, fakirs and farmhands and personalities such as Sabu and Gandhi, the film explores not only the people and places of over 70 years ago, but asks us to engage with broader themes of a shared history, shifting perspectives in the lead up to Indian independence and the ghosts of the past.

“Rich material for social-scientists across the oceans; Around India with a Movie Camera is key to understanding the development of not only the Indian, but also the British ‘identity’ during the Raj." Professor Gayatri Chatterjee, author of 'Mother India' (BFI Film Classics) and 'Awaara,' winner of the President’s Gold Medal for Best Book on Cinema

“As a generation that had experienced colonialism—both British and Indian—dies, we will increasingly rely on images to reconstruct the past.  In  Sandhya Suri’s hands, the archive begins a dance of mirrors—it reveals the colonizer’s gaze, its fascination and contempt for India; it foregrounds the deep divisions among Indians of the era; and overall, invites reflection on how we remember.” Professor Jyotsna Kapur, author of books including 'The Politics of Time and Youth in Brand India' and co-editor of the journal Studies in South Asian Film and Media

“A firsthand look at how the colonists lived and how they viewed the empire in India and its people; useful for scholars, educators and students to view. Rare footage of Gandhi’s peace mission to Noakhali in 1946 by his grandson, Kanu, is a treat to watch.” Coonoor Kripalani, Honorary Insitute Fellow at the University of Hong Kong and author of books including 'Mahatma Gandhi: Apostle of Non-Violence,' in the journal Education About Asia

"Fascinating, richly meditative; a past that refuses to know its place [and] a nation that is as much dreamscape as real."Professor Sukhdev Sandhu, New York University, in the journal Sight & Sound

"Enlightening; a compelling lesson of visual rhetoric and world history. This anthology of the British gaze shows the everyday violence and the very immorality of colonialism itself. Academics and librarians will find 'Around India with a Movie Camera' a valuable addition to their collections." —Stephanie Carta, V Cinema Show

"Presents some of the earliest surviving film from India, as well as enchanting travelogues, intimate home movies and newsreels from British, French and Indian filmmakers, drawn exclusively from the BFI National Archive’s early film collection."Phyllis Stephen, The Edinburgh Reporter

"Masterfully orchestrated! A journey laden with both memory and politics; at once light-hearted, grave, generous, critical and most of all, empathetic."Savina Petkova, King's College London, in the journal Cultural Anthropology

A close look at looking; a story of colonialism that refuses the hegemony of imperial power. Suri brings the disorder and incompleteness of Orientalism into view." Professor Laura Murray, New York University, in the journal American Anthropologist

2019 Detroit Institute of the Arts
2018 Cleveland Museum of Art
2018 BFI Southbank
2017 Sheffield Documentary Film Festival

72 minutes / Color/B&W
Closed Captioned
Release: 2018
Copyright: 2018

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

For individual consumers (home video)

This DVD is sold for private, home use only.

This title is also available online from:

Subject areas:
Asia, Asia (South), Cinema Studies, Film History, Cultural Studies

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