The Last Days of The Raj (2007)

Channel 4

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Date Added: 14 years ago.

Documentary Description

The Last Days of the Raj (2007)

This drama-documentary, filmed entirely on location in India, charts the events of six traumatic months in 1947 that saw the end of the British Raj. When after more than a century of British Empire Rule with an iron hand on the Indian subcontinent the British government would release its grasp things started to turn very ugly when the struggle for power and land began. Therefore the birth of independence was accompanied by the heavy labour of ethnic violence. Viceroy Mountbatten sought to withdraw from British India as fast as possible leaving the former subjects of Westminster to battle it out or come to an agreement of sorts.

Lord Louis Mountbatten arrived in India in March 1947 as Britain's Last Viceroy, committed to transferring power to an independent and sovereign India. Six months later India indeed was free, but it had also been partitioned and overwhelmed by an orgy of sectarian violence involving Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

What was meant to have been an exemplary British withdrawal had turned into an uncontrollable bloodletting and resulted in the murder of over a million people. For many years, the full horror of 1947 was obscured by the simple fact that it was in the interest of neither Britain, India, nor Pakistan to describe it.

The drama centres on the Viceroy's palace in Delhi where Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah fought and squabbled over the future of India and where British officials were charged with carving a Muslim homeland out of the religious and ethnic patchwork of the Punjab.

The impossibility - perhaps even absurdity - of trying to separate ancient communities on religious lines made a mockery of their high-minded intentions. Pakistan would never have a clean birth.


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