Bhowani Junction (film)

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Bhowani Junction
Bhowani Junction.jpg
Theatrical Film Poster
Directed by George Cukor
Produced by Pandro S. Berman
Written by Sonya Levien
Ivan Moffat
Based on Bhowani Junction 
by John Masters
Starring Ava Gardner
Stewart Granger
Bill Travers
Abraham Sofaer
Francis Matthews
Lionel Jeffries
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography Freddie Young
Edited by George Boemler
Frank Clarke
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • May 1, 1956 (1956-05-01) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $3,637,000[1]
Box office $4,875,000[1]

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.

The film starred 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 featured Bill Travers, Abraham Sofaer, Francis Matthews, Lionel Jeffries and (uncredited)[2] Neelo (who went on to become one of the leading ladies of the Pakistan film industry).

The film was shot in England at MGM-British Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, on the Longmoor Military Railway,[3] and on location in Lahore, Pakistan.


India, 1947: Victoria Jones, a woman raised by an Indian mother and English father who has been serving India in the army, returns after a long absence to Bhowani Junction, where supporters of Mahatma Gandhi are protesting against British rule, led by a revolutionary known as Davay.

She becomes reacquainted with a childhood sweetheart also of Indian-Anglo heritage, traffic superintendent Patrick Taylor, and with Colonel Rodney Savage, who is attempting to maintain law and order. The protesters disrupt rail service and Savage repels them, but Victoria does not approve of his methods. She begins seriously contemplating her future and speculates that she might marry a man from India, although clearly Taylor is still in love with her and Savage infatuated.

Alone one night, Victoria is attacked and nearly raped by an officer named McDaniel, before killing him with a steel bar. Finding her, a man named Ranjit Kasel takes her home and offers her sanctuary, introducing her to his mother, the Sardarni, and to a guest in their home, Ghan Shyam, who offers to hide McDaniel's body after the Sardarni worries that her son Ranjit will be the one accused of the man's murder.

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, only to get cold feet during the ceremony and suddenly flee. She soon comes to realize that the man in Ranjit's home, Ghan Shyam, is actually the revolutionary leader Davay.

Savage and Taylor rush to prevent a disaster as Davay runs to a train tunnel, dynamite strapped to his body. Taylor recklessly charges right at him and Davay shoots him. Savage, cradling his friend as he dies, manages to kill Davay before the arrival of the train. On board is Gandhi, whom Davay apparently meant to murder, thereby inciting further hostilities and riots.

Savage's duty here has ended and he is summoned back to England, but as he intends to leave for home, his love for Victoria has become overwhelming. He offers to remain here, living together in India, and she accepts.


Differences from novel[edit]

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.[4]


The novel was the fourth by John Masters about India.[5] MGM outbid two other studios to buy the film rights, paying more than $100,000.[6] Ava Gardner and Stewart Granger were announced as leads almost immediately; Gardner had been on suspension at the studio for refusing the appear in Love Me or Leave Me.[7]

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.[8]

The Indian government refused to cooperate with the production of the film.[9]

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.[4][10]

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.[4] Pakistan army and police enthusiastically assisted in making of the film. Several Pakistan army units of 7 Golden Arrow division including the 5th Battalion of 13th Frontier Force Rifles (now 10 Frontier Force Regiment), 5th Probyn’s Horse, First 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 Golden Arrow the formation sign of Pakistan 7 Division.[4]

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 loss of $933,000.[1]

It recorded admissions of 1,554,970 in France.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 'The Eddie Mannix Ledger’, Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study, Los Angeles
  2. ^ Bhowani Junction at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Ronald, D. W.; Carter, R. J. (1974). The Longmoor Military Railway. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 168. ISBN 0-7153-6357-3. 
  4. ^ a b c d Jacobson, Andrew. "Bhowani Junction –a brief but memorable encounter with Hollywood". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  5. ^ By, L. N. (1954, Mar 28). Talk with john masters. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  6. ^ By THOMAS M PRYORSpecial to The New,York Times. (1954, Apr 12). METRO BIDS HIGH FOR INDIA NOVEL. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  7. ^ Special to The New,York Times. (1954, Aug 14). AVA GARDNER SET FOR FILM ON INDIA. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  8. ^ GeorgeCukor HereToGet the feel of india. (1954, Oct 03). The Times of India (1861-Current) Retrieved from
  9. ^ By A.H. WEILER. (1954, Oct 24). BY WAY OF REPORT. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  10. ^ By, J. P. (1955, May 15). First 'invasion' of pakistan by film troupe met with welcome reception. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  11. ^ Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story

External links[edit]