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Delhi, Great Capital of India

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Delhi, Great Capital of India

Rare stencil-coloured images of early 20th century Delhi during a Muslim festival

Travelogue 1909 4 mins

Overview

"Delhi at the time of a great Muslim religious festival" is the helpful - to a point - context to this film offered by Pathe's catalogue of the time. Which festival, we're not told. Certainly the streets throng with people and floats, while a number of street performers are on hand to entertain (and presumably profit from) the faithful. From there, the camera moves on to the magnificent Jama Masjid mosque, where worshippers wash themselves in the courtyard's waters before assembling for prayers.

This was one of a great number of films made in exotic locations by the Pathe Freres company to showcase its often breathtakingly beautiful stencil-colour processing. Though the images here are mostly well-preserved, time hasn't been altogether kind to the colours of the BFI National Archive's copy, which aren't as radiant as they would once have been. But there's some real charm here nonetheless. The German intertitles in this copy testify to the huge international demand for such films.