Mahatma Gandhi. You can’t help but be awed by the man who won us freedom by non-violent means. Who inspired the nation to act as one and ask the British to leave the country. Before coming to India, Gandhiji had lived in South Africa for 20-odd years and had raised his voice against the Apartheid there. His writings, his teachings, continue to inspire millions even today. It’s but natural that filmmakers too would get inspired to make films about him. On the occasion of his birth anniversary, we present a list of films which are connected to the great man.
Director: Richard Attenborough
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Rohini Hattangadi, Roshan Seth
Gandhi is a period biographical film based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. A co-production between India and the United Kingdom, it is directed and produced by Richard Attenborough from a screenplay written by John Briley. It won major critical acclaim and was praised for its accurate portrayal of the life of Gandhi, Indian independence movement, as also for Kingsley’s superlative performance, production values and costume design. The film received eleven nominations at the 55th Academy Awards, winning eight (more than any other film nominated that year), including for the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (for Kingsley). The film encapsulates vignettes from the life of the Mahatma, starting from when he is thrown off a South African train in 1893 for being in a whites-only compartment and concludes with his assassination and funeral in 1948.
The Making Of The Mahatma (1996)
Director: Shyam Benegal
Cast: Rajit Kapur, Pallavi Joshi
The Making of the Mahatma is an Indian – South African venture, directed by Shyam Benegal, about the early life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi during his 21 years in South Africa. The film is based upon the book, The Apprenticeship of a Mahatma, by Fatima Meer (who also wrote the screenplay). Gandhiji’s years as a barrister in South Africa aren’t as well-known as his later years in his homeland. It’s while fighting against the injustice there that he formed, tested and put into practice the principals of passive resistance, civil disobedience and Satyagraha. The film brings out these points admiringly well. It won the National Film Award for Best Actor for Rajit Kapur and also won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in English.
Hey Ram (2000)
Director: Kamal Haasan
Cast: Kamal Haasan, Shah Rukh Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Hema Malini, Rani Mukerji
Hey Ram is a historical drama film written, directed and produced by Kamal Haasan, who also acted as the protagonist. It is an alternate history film that depicts India’s Partition and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse. The film revolves around a fictional character called Saket Ram (Kamal Haasan), who is torn apart by the violence of the Partition and holds Gandhiji responsible for it. He plots to kill the Mahatma but later circumstances force him to change his mind. He later leads his life according to Gandhian principles.
Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006)
Director: Raju Hirani
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan, Boman Irani
Sanjay Dutt reprised his character from the original Munnabhai but with a difference — this time the Bhai wasn’t pretending to be a doctor but he had turned Gandhian. It was fun to see a tough as nails goon practising non-violence. He gave Gandhigiri a new lease on life in the process. Murli Prasad Sharma or Munna Bhai meets Mahatma Gandhi and undergoes a heart transformation. For Munna, breaking bones and abducting people at the snap of his fingers was easier than the courage it required to walk on the path of non-violence and truth. But he perseveres on the road less travelled and not only transforms himself but changes the heart of a mean builder Lucky Singh (Boman Irani) as well. Sanjay Dutt and Munnabhai are made for each other, and he couldn’t have played the role better. Without Arshad Warsi, the movie wouldn’t be half as good, and like the previous one, he’s delivered. Vidya Balan really adds life to the movie. Mahatma Gandhi, played by Dilip Prabhavalkar is something you will not forget.
Gandhi My Father (2007)
Director: Feroz Abbas Khan
Cast: Darshan Jariwala, Akshaye Khanna, Bhumika Chawla, Shefali Shah
The movie is based upon the biography of Harilal Gandhi, titled Harilal Gandhi: A Life by Chandulal Bhagubhai Dalal. Khan’s play, Mahatma vs. Gandhi, had a similar theme and was based on a novel by Gujarati author Dinkar Joshi. The movie was shot on actual locations in South Africa, as well as in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The film deals with the life of Gandhiji’s eldest son Harilal. He had to live under the shadow of his illustrious father and wasn’t able to come to grips with it. He had a huge difference of opinion with Gandhiji and as a result, suffered most of his life. Darshan Jariwala was terrific as Gandhiji and so was Shefali Shah as Kasturba. And Akshaye Khanna perhaps gave the performance of his life playing the wayward Harilal.