Rare, unedited video footage of Mahatma Gandhi found

Mahatma Gandhi

The Pune-based National Film Archive of India (NFAI) has discovered 30 reels of unedited footage on Mahatma Gandhi, running to almost six hours of duration. 

The discovery coincides with the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Gandhiji.

The collection has visuals of his last days, including those from the period just after his death, close-ups of his body and blood-stained clothes, newspaper reports of the day, Birla House, people thronging to have a darshan and the procession to Raj Ghat.

These 35mm celluloid footages, unedited and stock shots with title cards in between, are taken by several prominent film studios of the time, such as Paramount, Pathe, Warner, Universal, British Movietone, Wadia Movietone. 

“It is indeed a very wonderful discovery for NFAI. There seems to be some rare footage in this collection, while many visuals are now part of available short films and documentaries. Some of these shots have been used but some visuals seem unique,” said Prakash Magdum, Director, NFAI, in a press statement.

The major highlight of the discovery is rare half-an-hour footage of a special train carrying Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes from Madras to Rameshwaram. The stunning visuals show thousands of people thronging to stations like Chettinad, Sivaganga, Chidambaram, Manamadurai junction, Ramnad, Pudukkottai junctions in Tamil Nadu, to get a glimpse of the urn carrying the Mahatma’s ashes.

The footage also has visuals of a sea of humanity present at what looks like Marina beach in the then Madras city, jostling with each other, carrying flags and banners to pay their last respects to the Mahatma.

The train stops at major stations en route for people to pay their tribute culminating in the journey at Rameshwaram, with several important politicians from Tamil Nadu taking part in the immersion ceremony.

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