Press releases

August 5, 2016 | British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha backs global effort to film Partition Stories

For Immediate Release  

The 1947 Partition Archive launches it's first crowdfunding campaign in order to collect thousands more stories in 2014. 

New Delhi, India. August 5, 2016:--  Filmmaker Gurinder Chadha will join The 1947 Partition Archive (, an organization leading a global effort to tell the untold stories from survivors of India and Pakistan’s Partition. Partition ignited one of the largest and most devastating mass migrations in human history.

The 1947 Partition Archive's storytelling effort grew in breadth and reach so quickly that it attracted the attention of Chadha. “Gurinder’s weight and support are a boost for the Archive,” said founder, Guneeta Singh Bhalla. “Gurinder will help bring this cause into greater public awareness. There are so many witnesses whom we have not reached yet, and we are still raising the funds needed to reach our goal of recording 10,000 stories through the end of 2017. We have a long way to go still, but with people like Gurinder jumping on board, we are looking at accelerating this process in a big way.”

Chadha’s much anticipated film on Partition, Viceroy’s House, will be released in 2017 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Partition. Though it sheds light on an essential chapter in our global history, Chadha said, “It was a distressing film to make at times." Viceroy’s House depicts the inside story of the making of India and Pakistan. Chadha, a well-known filmmaker, is most well known for her internationally acclaimed film, Bend it like Beckham.

“My family lived through Partition and has been scarred by these events,” said Chadha. Just recently having completed her film, she is now turning her attention to preserving the lived memories of Partition through her support of The 1947 Partition Archive as the organization’s first brand ambassador.

With humble beginnings in Berkeley, California, the 1947 Partition Archive spread across the globe with great urgency in an attempt to document the last voices of Partition. In just a handful of years, over 500 volunteers from nearly 300 cities have contributed over 2700 life stories in the form of oral histories, totaling over 5000 hours of video footage.

“When we saw the mobs coming, we started running with only the clothes on our backs. My mother was still holding her tea,” remembers Mrs. Kohli who recently shared her memories of Partition with the archive. Nearly 15 million people became refugees between 1946 and 1948, as mass violence engulfed cities across India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Until now, their stories have gone untold, and the lessons of this history largely unharnessed.

The legacy of Partition continues to haunt us today in the form of the disputed Line of Control between India and Pakistan, the world’s second most heavily militarized border. Today, to witnesses of Partition, history is repeating itself as they watch the unprecedented refugee crisis unfold in Syria. The 1947 Partition Archive is a small group making a large effort to ensure the last remaining memories of this historic event are preserved.

“If we have a chance to make sure that the horrors of the 1947 Partition are not repeated, then hiding from history cannot be the answer,” said Citizen Historian, Reena Kapoor. Though similar in scale to the Holocaust and in scope to the Rwandan communal violence in 1994, there is no memorial and until now, there has been no effort on a large scale to tell the stories of it’s victims.

When thousands of individual voices are brought to light, a different story emerges from the collective, questioning the traditional narratives of communal violence that continue to fuel conflict today. “So often, Partition is spoken about in terms of the violence that occurred," said Citizen Historian Arshad Mirza, "Of course, the brutality cannot be ignored, but these stories tell of compassion and friendships between people of different faiths that could not be broken. These stories are hidden from our usual sight, and we will not know about them unless we ask.”

Anyone can become a Citizen Historian and learn to record stories through a free webinar on the website. “If you know anybody that has a story, if you know anybody that was involved, please share it with us.” Chadha said, “Pull out your phone now. Don’t wait. Let’s record these incredible stories before it’s too late.”