In World War II, India became the chief Imperial reserve for an Empire under threat. India Strikes documents India's role in the war. But the tone of the film is one in which the established 'truths' of Empire are now impossible to maintain. Images of backward 'feudal' India are contrasted with the modernities of the Indian city and the Indian Army. India's contribution to the war is no longer to be depicted as a product of Empire loyalism, but as a step towards Indian self-governance.
The significance of the film lies as much in what it doesn't depict. The British in India needed to mobilise Indian nationalist opinion in order to finance and recruit for the war effort. But the insincerity of their promises of independence were a serious hindrance. WWII was the site of mass-starvation through man-made famines (chiefly in Bengal), mass-insurgency (the Quit India movement from 1942; the Telangana Rebellion of 1945) and military rebellions (the Indian National Army, who fought with the Japanese from 1942, and the rebellions in the Royal Indian Navy that were to follow in February 1946).