Bhowani Junction (film)
Bhowani Junction is a 1956 film adaptation of the 1954 novel Bhowani Junction by John Masters made by MGM. The film was directed by George Cukor and produced by Pandro S. Berman from a screenplay by Sonya Levien and Ivan Moffat.
|Directed by||George Cukor|
|Produced by||Pandro S. Berman|
|Written by||Sonya Levien|
|Based on||Bhowani Junction|
by John Masters
|Music by||Miklós Rózsa|
|Edited by||George Boemler|
The film stars Ava Gardner as Victoria Jones, an Anglo-Indian who has been serving in the Indian Army, and Stewart Granger as Colonel Rodney Savage, a British Indian Army officer. It also features Bill Travers, Abraham Sofaer, Francis Matthews, and Lionel Jeffries.
India, 1947: In the final days of British rule, Victoria Jones, the daughter of an Indian mother and an English train engineer, is serving in the British Army. She returns on leave after four years to her home in Bhowani, where supporters of Mahatma Gandhi are campaigning for Indian independence while communists, led by a revolutionary known as Davay, foment riot and sabotage.
She becomes reacquainted with a childhood sweetheart also of Anglo-Indian heritage, rail traffic superintendent Patrick Taylor, and with Colonel Rodney Savage, whose Indian battalion has been sent to Bhowani to maintain law and order as British rule ends. The protesters disrupt rail service and Savage places Victoria on duty during the crisis. He disperses the protesters but Victoria does not approve of his methods. She begins seriously contemplating her identity and speculates that she might marry a man from India, although clearly Taylor is still in love with her and Savage infatuated.
Walking home alone one night, Victoria is attacked and nearly raped by Captain McDaniel, one of Savage's officers, but kills him with a steel bar. Finding her, a Sikh co-worker of Taylor's, Ranjit Kasel, takes her to his home and offers her sanctuary, introducing her to his mother, the Sadani, and to a guest in their home, Ghan Shyam, who offers to hide McDaniel's body after the Sadani worries that her son Ranjit will be accused of murdering the officer.
Davay's raids continue. He blows up a train, causing numerous deaths and injuries. Victoria, influenced by her love for India, decides to marry Ranjit, but during the ceremony fearing the complete loss of her identity, suddenly flees. When an army sentry is found murdered because he saw McDaniel and Victoria together just before she killed the officer, Victoria realizes that the man in Ranjit's home, Ghan Shyam, is actually Davay and that the Sadani, once a notorious Indian resistance leader, has been harboring him.
Davay kidnaps Victoria, using her to escape the city aboard her father's train. Savage and Taylor intercept the train before it reaches a tunnel, rescuing Victoria but finding Davay has gone into the tunnel with dynamite. Taylor recklessly advances to defuse the dynamite but is shot by Davay, who is immediately killed by Savage. Savage, cradling Taylor as he dies, watches the passage of the train. On board is Gandhi, whom Davay meant to assassinate, thereby inciting further hostilities and riots.
Savage's duty in India ends and he is summoned back to England, but his love for Victoria has become overwhelming. When she refuses to marry him and live in England, he proposes to marry but remain in India, and she accepts. Savage's superior offers to expedite his early release from military service as reward for his accomplishments.
- Ava Gardner as Victoria Jones
- Stewart Granger as Colonel Rodney Savage
- Bill Travers as Patrick Taylor
- Abraham Sofaer as Surabhai
- Francis Matthews as Ranjit Kasel
- Marne Maitland as Govindaswami
- Peter Illing as Ghan Shyam aka Davay
- Edward Chapman as Thomas Jones
- Freda Jackson as the Sadani
- Lionel Jeffries as Captain Graham McDaniel
- Alan Tilvern as Ted Dunphy
- Yousaf D Hamdani as Assistant Director
- Neelo as a 15-year-old girl
- Zohra Mahmood, special appearance
Differences from novelEdit
The film, like the original novel, portrays the Anglo-Indian protagonist, Victoria Jones, as tugged in different directions by three suitors, Col. Rodney Savage, Ranjit Kasel and Patrick Taylor, each representing a different ethnic community: British, Indian (Sikh) and Anglo-Indian, respectively. The film-makers, however, changed the novel's ending and Victoria's fate. Whereas in the novel Victoria finally seeks her future with her fellow Anglo-Indian Patrick, a railway worker, the film-makers instead matched her at the end with the more obviously dashing British officer Rodney Savage, while consigning Patrick to a heroic death. (In the writer's own depiction, in the (unfilmed) sequel "To the Coral Strand", Rodney Savage does stay on in India after the end of British rule – but he does not marry Victoria, but rather goes through many upheavals and finds love with an Indian woman.)
A related issue is that as appearing in the book, Victoria Jones has a distinctly brown skin, being of partly Indian ancestry. When she wears a sari, she looks very much like an Indian girl, and much of the book she is attracted to the idea of being exactly that. And for the same reason, she is well aware that if she were to marry Savage and go with him to England, she could expect to meet rejections from his upper class milieu. All of these factors, which have a significant influence on the personality of Victoria as depicted in the book, were profoundly changed in the film by the choice of casting the white American actress Ava Gardner for the role.
The novel was the fourth by John Masters about India. MGM outbid two other studios to buy the film rights, paying more than $100,000. Ava Gardner and Stewart Granger were announced as leads almost immediately; Gardner had been on suspension at the studio for refusing to appear in Love Me or Leave Me.
George Cukor was assigned to direct. He travelled to India in October 1954 to research the movie. "I feel that for the first time India has been presented in this book as it really is, instead of the usual hokey-pokey atmosphere in which it is painted by most authors who write about it", he said.
The Indian government refused to cooperate with the production of the film.
The fictional location Bhowani Junction was in India, most probably Jhansi. MGM had wanted to shoot the film in location in India; but, as the government of India insisted on script approval and imposed high taxes, MGM decided to film in Pakistan where the government was more welcoming.
As a result of the change in location to Pakistan, the script was altered to show Rodney Savage in command of the 1/13 Frontier Force Battalion (Coke's Rifles), which at that time of filming was part of the 7th (Golden Arrow) Division of the Pakistan Army, rather than in command of a Gurkha Battalion, the 1/13 Gorkha Rifles, as in the book. Pakistan army and police enthusiastically assisted in the making of the film. Several Pakistan army units of the 7 Golden Arrow Division including the 5th Battalion of 13th Frontier Force Rifles (now 10 Frontier Force Regiment), 5th Probyn's Horse, 1st Battalion of 13th Frontier Force Rifles (now 7 Frontier Force Regiment), participated in the making of the film. Colonel Savage in the film is shown wearing the Golden Arrow formation sign of the Pakistan 7 Division.
Also in the movie is the 4th Battalion (Wilde's) 13th Frontier Force Rifles, the band at the Lahore Railway Station with a deer as its mascot, while the troops taking part in the train accident were from the 4/13th. The battalion has a copy of the book and autographed photographs from both Ava Gardner and Stewart Granger.
The future Pakistani film star Neelo appeared in a small role as a reporter in a crowd scene. Neelo was introduced to Cukor by A. H. Rana, the film's production manager and casting assistant in Pakistan, who worked with the film's casting director, Harvey Woods. This was her first role in a movie.
The film earned $2,075,000 in North America and $2.8 million elsewhere, making a gross profit of $1,238,000.
It recorded admissions of 1,554,970 in France.
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