Rare archival footage of Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar and Bharatiya Jana Sangh’s first president Syama Prasad Mookerjee form part of a half-an-hour long documentary which will be aired by Doordarshan on the occasion of Independence Day on Friday.
Titled “Road To Freedom”, the documentary has been produced by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and contains rare footage related to the country’s freedom struggle.
Government sources told The Indian Express that the decision to incorporate footage of Savarkar and Mookerjee was taken following a “growing realisation” that they have been ignored so far. “These leaders have found themselves on history’s margins till now and their visuals have rarely been shown on the public broadcaster. Instead of a documentary dripping with patriotism, we have tried to make it a more objective narration of history,” said a source.
“Savarkar was a revolutionary who spent over a decade in Port Blair’s Cellular Jail after being arrested for his anti-British activities. Just because he is credited with the origin of the Hindutva philosophy, served as president of the Hindu Mahasabha, and was linked to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination — but not found guilty, it’s not fair to deny him his rightful place in history. Similarly, Mookerjee was a minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet and a widely respected politician who quit the Congress and founded the Bharatiya Jana Sangh in 1951. Both are important figures from the freedom movement,” said an official.
The documentary includes other rare footage like Nehru riding a horse while going to attend a meeting called by the British in Shimla, Gandhi attending the Second Round Table Conference, the Gandhi-Jinnah dialogue, Subhash Chandra Bose presiding over Congress sessions and his visits to Berlin, Japan and Singapore.
Some interesting nuggets of information have been weaved into the narrative. Like why August 15, 1947 was chosen as the date of India’s independence. “It was Lord Mountbatten… who chose 15th August, 1947 as the day of India’s independence… It came to him suddenly, in reply to a question. He got reminded of the second anniversary of Japanese surrender and decided upon it. On 15th August, 1947, in his broadcast to the United States of America celebrating the second anniversary of victory of Japan, he said that people in India were celebrating an event no less momentous. The date fixed by Mountbatten rightly exposed him to the criticism and bloodshed and tyranny in plenty,” says the narrator.