Pictures and words

A list of movies, documentaries and books to help you enjoy your day of freedom better.

August 10, 2017 03:03 pm | Updated 04:37 pm IST

Independence Day is the best time to delve into the past. Here’s a small selection of books, movies and documentaries that will take you into the past and give you an idea of what happened all those years ago.


Let’s begin with the movie Gandhi which released in 1982. It is an epic biographical drama film about the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was the leader of the non violent, non cooperative independence movement against British rule. The movie was produced by Richard Attenborough and stars Ben Kingsley in the title role. The film spans the defining moments of Gandhiji’s life beginning with the episode in South Africa in 1893, when he was thrown out of the train for sitting in a first class railway carriage. It was nominated for the Academy Awards in 11 categories and it won eight.


Kaalapani is a Malayalam language historical period drama, set in 1915. It focuses on Indian freedom fighters who were incarcerated during the days of the Raj. It was later dubbed in Hindi as Saza-E-Kala Pani, in Tamil as Siraichalai and in Telugu as Kaala Pani. The story revolves around an army officer, G. S. Sethu, who goes to Ross Island to get information about a relative. The year is 1965. In an room full of old documents Sethu puts together a story of his uncle and other prisoners.



In a small town — Champaner, in Gujarat the commanding officer of the cantonment, Captain Andrew Russel, imposes high taxes on the people of the village. The villagers are unable to pay the taxes and appeal to their Raja, Puran Singh. But, the Raja is not able to help them as he too is bound by British law. The villagers led by Bhuvan witness a cricket match, and they get into an argument. Russel challenges the villagers to a game of cricket telling them he is ready to waive the tax for three years if they win the match. Will they win?


India’s Forgotten War

India Gate in Delhi is the largest memorial to a war in which 1.5 million Indian men were recruited. But, World War One is seen as part of the country’s colonial history, and wants to be forgotten. Anita Rani, the director meets relatives of the men who travelled from rural Punjab to fight a war thousands of miles away from home, for a cause they knew nothing about.

What Anita discovers is that not all who took part in the war were soldiers. Many worked behind the scenes, digging ditches, clearing tranches and toilets, cooking, boot mending...

The Story of India


This is a six-part BBC documentary series, written and directed by histories Michael Wood. It that takes you from the Indus Valley Civilisation, to the Age of Buddha and Mahavira, to the Spice Routes and the Silk Roads to the age of discovery, the coming of the Moghuls and finally India’s struggle for freedom.

Wood reveals how in South India a global corporation came to control much of the subcontinent, and explores the magical culture of Lucknow, discovering the enigmatic Briton who helped found the freedom movement. He traces the Amritsar massacre, the rise of Gandhiji and Nehru, and the events that led to the Partition of India in 1947.

Azaadi Ki Ladaai

The freedom struggle comprises the culmination of events that led up to it. Each movement was linked to the other. This documentary takes you from the revolt in 1857 to the formation of the Congress, the partition of Bengal, the Swadeshi Movement until the final moment of India’s independence on August 15, 1947.


August 1942: As Gandhiji and prominent leaders are put in jail, Babu and Manju suddenly find themselves a part of the larger protests. Their schools close down and their father is put in jail. Their brother Mohan, is not cowed down. He goes underground and the rest of the family moves to Narayanpur, a sleepy village. They soon realise that the village is not as sleepy as it seems. The pressure is building up and it all comes to head when a group of children confront the police.

The Narayanpur Incident by Shashi Deshpande, Puffin Books


Police batons, prison sentences or the hangman s noose-nothing could stop them. They stood up against the biggest colonial empire in the world and all they had was their courage and passion for freedom. Relive the exciting story of our struggle for freedom through the lives of our greatest freedom fighters as they carried the defiantly fluttering tricolor towards a dream called India.

A Flag, A Song and a Pinch of Salt: Freedom Fighters of India by Subhadra Sen Gupta, Puffin Books

The story is set against the background of the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. But friendship knows no barbed wire fencing: children play games, enjoy ice-cream and feel the loss of friends. Based on the memories of her father, animator Nina Sabnani made this film for the Big Small People Project, Israel, using the art of women’s appliqué work, common to both Sindh in Pakistan and Gujarat in India, to provide a rich and textured visual experience.

Mukund and Riaz by Nina Sabnani, Tulika Books

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