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Bhowani Junction

Bhowani Junction(1956)


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The opening credits includes the following acknowledgment: "The producers gratefully acknowledge the assistance given by the Pakistan government in providing officers and men of the 13th Battalion Frontier Force Rifles, units of the Punjab police and the facilities of the Northwestern railway." Voice-over narration provided by Stewart Granger as the character "Col. Rodney Savage" is heard throughout the film detailing India's political turmoil and his own dilemma between his military duties and his growing love for "Victoria Jones."
       The film's story encompasses background on the history of India and Pakistan in the twentieth century: The Indian National Congress party, the dominant political force in India throughout most of the 1900s, emphasized passive resistance to British colonial rule in India. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) won control over the Congress in 1920 and, although he resigned as a member of the party in 1934, he continued to lead the political movement, which resulted in a non-violent resolution to the end of colonization. When, in 1939, the British declared India at war with German-led axis powers, the Congress vowed only to support the British troops if they promised withdrawal from India immediately following the war.
       In 1947, with a new, more lenient post-World War II British government in place, talks between the two countries resulted in the Mountbatten plan, which called for the creation of two independent states, India and Pakistan; however, this time period was also marked by extreme violence between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, which caused over one million casualties. In addition, India's Communists, led by Manabendra Nath Roy, who opposed the Congress, engaged in acts of terrorism to try to overthrow the British. During the turmoil, Gandhi was assassinated at the hands of a Hindu extremist in 1948. For more information about Gandhi, please consult the entry for the 1953 documentary Mahatma Gandhi: 20th Century Prophet (see below).
       On April 12, 1954, Hollywood Reporter noted that M-G-M had outbid both 20th Century-Fox and Columbia for the John Masters novel on which the film was based. A August 26, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item states that M-G-M was considering Cornel Wilde, Michael Wilding and Edmund Purdom, presumably for the role of "Patrick Taylor". According to a February 7, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, Purdom left the production by his own request, while Wilde and Wilding were replaced by Bill Travers. By October 19, 1954, a Hollywood Reporter news item reported that M-G-M has sought and failed to get permission from India for shooting in that country due to Indian government objections to material regarding Gandhi.
       A May 15, 1955 New York Times article added that after India announced their plan to charge M-G-M twelve percent of its net world profit on the picture, Pakistan offered to waive almost all taxes if the production moved there. As of a November 2, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M decided to move locations to Pakistan and became the first American studio to do a feature film in that country. A December 1, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Andrew Morton assisted director George Cukor in early production in India and obtained release from M-G-M before the film's completion.
       The May 15, 1955 New York Times article also noted that the Pakistani government loaned a detachment of 400 men from the Frontier Force Rifle as well as a special police detail for scenes. The article went on to state that portions of the film were shot in Pakistan on the banks of the Ravi River and in a Sikh temple, where non-Sikhs are normally prohibited entry. According to a June 10, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, the railroad wreck sequence of the film was shot on location in Longmoor, England. An June 11, 1956 Newsweek article stated that M-G-M established headquarters in Lahore, Pakistan and railroad sequences were shot at the Lahore Railroad station.
       Director Cukor can be seen in a small role in the film as a train passenger who follows Ava Gardner off the train. Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts add Julian Sherrier, Joseph Tomelty and Zia Mohyeddin to the cast; however, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.