Free Press Journal

Mumbai: Naval uprising of 1946 recreated in a unique way


Mumbai: The Naval uprising of 1946, which worked as a catalyst to trigger the freedom movement in India has been recreated in the form of an art installation at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) at Colaba.

The collaborative work of artist Vivan Sundaram, cultural theorist Ashish Rajadhyaksha and sound artiste David Chapman represents an audio narrative of the entire incident inside a container especially designed for a creative experience till March 25.

Over 70 years later, the artists chose to recreate this historic event which is not widely documented in history. This event led to a strike of Indian naval members or ratings as they were known as from Karachi to Calcutta for reasons like ill treatment and unjust conditions of food. A total of 10,000 naval ratings took charge of 66 ships and on-shore naval establishments.

The ratings gave up their work and refused to carry out their obligations to the Navy for a span of six days. The strike was called off but Bombay witnessed a curfew which led to the killing of over 200 people on streets. The uprising gave a strong message to the British rulers that their end was nigh and the freedom struggle would overthrow their colonial rule soon.

The 40-feet long, 12 feet wide and 10 feet high mobile container at the museum provides an audio narrative of this entire incident with the effect of theatre lights. The audio experience has been brought to life with the sound effects of ships, naval officers, speeches by important leaders and slogans of freedom.

Sundaram, the artist who created this installation, told the Free Press Journal, “This event is not known to the people though it triggered the freedom struggle and served as a catalyst for the battle against the British. Though the strike was called off this incident shook the British government.” Rajadhyaksha said, “We recreated this event because we wanted to give importance to an event which was not given that much of an importance yet was of utmost importance. .”

The event is open for all for free till March 25.