A 'juggernaut' rolls: The compelling story of the Canadian nuclear reactor's road travel in India in 1968. Paul Saltzman, member of the film crew of 'Juggernaut', speaks with Mayank Chhaya | SAM Conversation

Mar 25, 2022

In 1968, just a little over two decades after India became independent, a juggernaut rolled from Bombay to Kota in Rajasthan on a six-week journey carrying a calandria, the 70-ton heart of a Canadian nuclear reactor. Its objective was to bring electricity to a chronically energy-starved state and, by implication water, to a perpetually parched land.

The transportation of this giant cylinder-like structure made of four-inch-thick steel was quite an exercise in an India with its legacy narrow roads made even more challenging by the traditional Rajasthani structures and gates. Roads had to be lowered, balconies broken, and trees cut to accommodate the behemoth of a truck that was also shipped in from Canada.

The story of the Canadian nuclear reactor arriving in India is a fascinating one and chronicling the last miles of its journey is equally compelling as captured in 1968 documentary titles ‘Juggernaut’. It was produced by the National Film Board of Canada and written and directed by Eugene Boyko. 'Juggernaut' offers some remarkable sights and sounds of a nation emerging from subjugation with some stunning juxtapositions of a cutting-edge technology. Mayank Chhaya Reports spoke to Paul Saltzman, one of the crew members of the film unit who oversaw its sound, and who did an extraordinary job of capturing ambient sounds that tell the story without much narration.