A slice of history

A slice of history


This was as part of an exhibition by Homai Vya­awalla, a well-known journalist. The first part titled ‘A Tryst With Destiny’ examined the history and experience of the British Empire, from the perspective of both the rulers and the ones being ruled.

The whole saga was that of paradoxes and captured the essence of Britain and its people. The narration started with Britain being a major world power with an enormous and powerful navy.  In fact, it was the superpower of the day with an empire that touched almost every continent on the planet, from Canada to India, Australia to Nigeria.

But as the movie proceeded, one could notice that while the grandeur of British colonialism was bea­u­tiful to those in power, it left a wake of death, starvation, and destruction — one from which the world is yet to recover.

As it delved upon every aspect of the British sovereignty both in India and other colonies, it brought a wave of nostalgia to many like Vilasini and Raja Gopalan.

Said Vilasini, “I was five years old when India got independence. And this movie brought back vague memories of our life during that time, when I used to sit along with my family and listen to a small radio broadcasting news of what was happening.”

Her husband agreed. “When I was in school, I used to take part in rallies. So this whole episode was reminiscent of those days. It brought back bittersweet memories,” he said.  And for the younger generation, this served as a reminder of what the country and its people had to go through during those days. Said Roohi, a student, “The movie is a great attempt at showing us our roots. History-lovers and those who appreciate a good, well-paced and free-flowing documentary will enjoy this.

It is a fair and balanced account of the British Empire. Even today, after 60 years of independence, the cultural influences are still evide­nt.” Her friend, Greeshma ad­ded, “It is a first hand account of most people supported with various letters and photogra­phs of some of them. It chronicles the decline of a once vast power which brou­ght education and democracy to the four corners of the glo­be.”

This movie served as a wonderful history lesson and unmasked some truths. And this thought was shared by many in the audience. As Amar said, “It is very different from what we have learnt in our history textbooks. It forces us to think beyond what we have studied. This movie attempts to ask us a very simple question. Why did it happen? But the answer is also simple. The world grew tired of being ruled over by Britain and its imperialism.”

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