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Child of Empire is an animated VR documentary which puts you inside the shoes of a 7 year old child during the largest forced migration in human history, the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan.

An interactive experience built for Oculus Quest, the film navigates sectarianism, colonialism and identity at a time of deep political crisis. 

Throughout the experience, you are guided by a 7 year old child (The Child of Empire), whose story is a kaleidoscope of three real life witness recounts. The viewer, as an imaginary friend to the Child, witnesses key moments in the migration journey. You could be hiding from a violent mob in the backroom of a shop with Ishar Das Arora, a Punjabi farmer boy from Attock; accidentally glimpsing a truck piled with dead bodies when arriving in Pakistan with Zarina Akram, a Mohajir girl who fled her home in Delhi on the day of Eid, and rejoicing at the eventual independence of the subcontinent with Tarapada De in a refugee camp in Bengal.

Interspersed throughout the journey are historical flashbacks, built with archive content, which educate the viewer about this critical moment in history.

Stand up (and Boogie!) [20 Sec Clip
Child of Empire (01)


Interactivity is intended to ground the viewer into the story and to develop the bond between you and the Child. For instance, one of our witnesses, Ishar Das, fondly recalled playing a game called gilli danda as a child. At the beginning of the experience, we are invited to join him in a match, where he teases you to hit the gilli as far as you can. There are more subtle instances of interactivity populated interpreted throughout the scenes, such as throwing colour in a Holi festival.

Created by Anzu Sohi and Sparsh Ahuja
Art Director Stephen Stephenson
Written by Omi Zola
Produced by Saadia Gardezi & Sam Dalrymple
Music by Amira Gill & Vasundhara Gupta

Sound Design: Sashank Navaladi
Dialogue Processing & Sound Mix Somatic (Somin Griffin-Dave) 

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