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who had arrived with his family – wife, children and grand children. We see Indira as a vivacious young girl in this film. Motilalji emphasized two points: firstly, the Captain of the ship and all his crew should be Indian, and secondly, the Indian vessels should have all the freedom to sail in the waters of their own country. Hindustan should aim at achieving these aims, he said.

The Congress leadership … Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel listen closely to Mahatma Gandhi.

the voice over (in the absence of any credits in the print, we do not know the speaker’s name.) This is a kind of Prologue to the film and it is followed by graphical presentation – maps, bar and pie charts and other graphical animated visuals to show how the discriminatory policies of the colonial powers had adversely affected Indian shipping industry despite India’s substantial contribution to total tonnage and overseas trade volumes. As the voice-over informs us, Gandhiji called it a battle between angels and devils. Maulana Azad is quoted saying, “There was a time when our vessels crossed great oceans and reached Hindustani goods and messages to far off countries. And then a time came when the Hindustani vessels were stopped to sail even on their own shores.” As visuals show ships ‘Strathmore’, ‘City of Venice’ and that of other countries with their respective flags, the voice-over says, “In the Hindustani ports we see flags of every other country but the flag of Hindustan, whom we love the most.” The massive Scindia House at Ballard Pier, Mumbai was inaugurated in 1938 by the hands of Vallabhbhai 30    Documentary Today

Patel. We see Viswesvarayya, Lilavati and Kanaiyalal Munshi and other eminent personalities arriving to attend the function. Vallabhbhai Patel is seen being received by Shantikumar Morarjee. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, HH Agha Khan, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Maharajas and Diwans from across the country had sent congratulatory messages to the company. In his welcome address, one of the founding members and the company’s Chairman, Walchand Hirachand asserts that under any circumstances Scindia would be a Swadeshi company. In his report, the company’s General Manger, M.A. Mater reasserts the company’s avowed ideals. At Scindia House, Bhulabhai Desai unveils the company’s Founder and the First Chairman, Narottam Morarjee’s bust. Scindia Steam Navigation Co. was able to acquire its first cargo vessel JALABALA built in Glagow in 1927. It is shown in the film as being ceremonially launched by Vithalbhai Patel. This was the first ship that unfurled the Hindustani flag. After four months, another Glasgow-built vessel JALADUTA was ceremonially launched by Pandit Motilal Nehru,

What is interesting about Zils’ documentary is the way he provides us the historic as well as contemporary history of the Indian shipping industry along with the visuals that keep the film moving upwards on its emotional graph. As it says graphically, towards making Hindustani shipping industry self-reliant and stronger, Scindia Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. had helped other companies such as Bengal Burma Steam Navigation Co., Indian Cooperative & Trading Co., Eastern Steam Navigation Co., Travancore Steam Navigation Co., and Ratnakar Steam Navigation Co. “Now all these companies are working together and the entire country is helping Scindia in its endeavour.” We see Mohammed Ali Jinnah coming out of Scindia House and as the voice over says, “From the time of the First Round Table Conference, Jinnah was one of the first to raise voice against the British monopoly.” The film is replete with such rare documentation. And as it progresses towards the third and the final reel, we are informed that around this time, Scindia Steam Navigation Co. had acquired eight more vessels from outside and one of them was EL MADINA in 1936, made for Indian Muslims going on Haj to Mecca. At the sailing ceremony, the chief guests are Sir Pherozeshah Noon and Lady Noon. Zils creates an interesting atmosphere that is filled with joy and grace amidst beautiful Quranic verses. It was an absolutely state-of-the-art vessel with all the comforts that it could provide to the passengers. The country was moving towards self-reliance as we see Scindia Steam

Documentary Today #8  

Documentary Today is a quarterly journal published by Films Division for Indian documentary makers who wish to keep in touch with the state...

Documentary Today #8  

Documentary Today is a quarterly journal published by Films Division for Indian documentary makers who wish to keep in touch with the state...

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