Centre of South Asian Studies


Film collections

The Centre holds a sizable archive of films - approximately 50 individual collections totalling in the region of 80 hours of footage. Most of the material we hold is 16mm or 8mm home movies, taken between 1911 and 1956, which give a unique perspective of life in South Asia towards the end of the British Empire and in the first years of independence. The collection covers a broad range of topics - the rescue of civilians and soldiers trapped inside Burma by swollen rivers after the country's fall to the Japanese in World War II, repairs on the railway line from Quetta to the Khyber Pass after the Quetta earthquake of 1935, relief work and disturbing scenes of the removal of bodies during the Partition period, the social lives of the Raj, children playing and going to school, royal weddings, Indian festivals and rites - the list is very long.

The film collection is now available online in its entirety (with one or two omissions for copyright purposes). You can access the films by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

The Centre is indebted to Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes, who is responsible for the catalogue of the films and has been instrumental in researching the films and in the creation of this online resource.

For those wishing to use the films in broadcast and the media: you may not use the film material presented on these pages, except for research purposes, without the explicit permission of the Centre of South Asian Studies. Films may be viewed using this website, but you will need to contact the archivist at the Centre before broadcasting any of this material in any form. We hold copies of all the films on DigiBeta and can supply you with the extracts you require in any format you choose. Contact the archivist for more information.

For those wishing to use the films in teaching: you are free to use this material in the classroom. Any video stream, however, requires a high quality, reliable internet connection. We suggest, therefore, that you download a copy of the films you want to use onto a local computer and use them off your own hard drive. Please contact the archivist to do this.

Click here to access the film collection