Postmaster General’s tribute to Netaji wins laurels

Swati Pandey.

Swati Pandey.

Elephants Do Remember, a documentary on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, recently adjudged the Best Biographical Film at the 67th National Film Awards 2019, marks the directorial debut of Swati Pandey, Postmaster General, India Post, Mumbai Region.

The film, which will bring to the fore unknown facts about the great freedom fighter, revolves around the life of Rama Khandwala, 94, a resident of Opera House, Mumbai, who served in the Indian National Army and worked closely with Netaji. With a run time of 37 minutes, the film is co-directed by Viplove Bhatia and Manu Bist, and produced by Films Division. The film-makers will receive the award from the President on May 3 in Delhi.

Ms. Khandwala is the oldest tourist guide in India, helping Japanese tourists during their visits to Mumbai, and recipient of the Presidential Award. The film records the thrilling experiences of Ms. Khandwala, who hails from Burma (now Myanmar). In the film, she leaves the viewers awe-struck as she reminisces her association with Netaji. “Since my childhood, I was inspired by Netaji. This film is my tribute to him, the most underrated and forgotten freedom fighter of India,” Ms. Pandey said.

“This film is an ode to my Baba (father) who was a refugee from East Bengal and reminisced the influence of Netaji through his life. I saw Netaji through my Baba ’s eyes and I got to know Netaji through his words,” she said. Through this documentary, I attempt to revive the legacy of Netaji, his undying patriotism and altruistic love towards his motherland, the way he still influences our lives, she added. The film was also nominated under the Short Documentary category at the IFFI, Goa, 2019.

“This award is an acknowledgement for Rama didi , who at the age of 16 was not only an integral part of Netaji’s Rani Jhansi Regiment, that fought for India’s freedom, but also led a team of 30 women soldiers (known as Ranis) at the war front. This was she! Fearless, Passionate Valiant!” said Ms. Pandey, who has become the first officer of the Indian Post to win a National Film Award.

Ms Pandey, an Indian Postal Service Officer of the 1997 batch, said she was always inspired by creativity and filmmaking came naturally. Born in a Bengali family displaced by the Partition, she grew up in the Dandakaranya region of Odisha. In the postal department, she has started innovative projects like SOFT (Supporting Officials for Treatment), Smartest Postmen Campaign, Digital Identity of Postmen and a heritage walk of the Mumbai General Post office.

New project

Ms. Pandey is now working on a documentary on the 160-year history of India Post along with Epic Channel. Recently, she also published the first-ever e-book on the Mumbai General Post Office, co-authored with another government official, Orchida Mukherjee. The book showcases the archaeological beauty and splendour of the heritage building, constructed in Indo-Saracenic style of architecture.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2022 12:16:21 am |