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Mahatma Gandhi’s life was that of truth and humility. This simple man with a small build and a bald head clad in dhoti managed to reach out to millions of people through his philosophy, beliefs and his devotion to his motherland. Sir Richard Attenborough finally gets a movie made on the Mahatma’s life, after struggling for more than 2o years. Capturing almost every aspect of the life of ‘The Father of the Nation’, Sir Attenborough presents ‘Gandhi.’
Plot: The film begins with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (Sir Ben Kingsley) by Nathuram Godse (Harsh Nayyar) on January 30, 1948. As people from all over the world gather to pay their condolences at his funeral, the movie goes 55 years back to South Africa where White men kick Gandhi out of a first class compartment on the grounds of racial discrimination. Affected by the bias against Indians, Gandhi decides to protest. He peacefully asks for his rights, without resorting to violent methods.
The government finally makes numerous reforms in the rights of Indians in South Africa. Once back in India, he is asked to lead the freedom movement against the British Raj. Sticking to his beliefs of Ahimsa, he leads the non-violent ‘Quit India’ movement. He’s arrested numerous times during the movement, and the protest is time taking. But eventually the British leave India shortly after the 2nd World War. India wins its freedom, but internal conflicts between Hindus and Muslims have torn the nation apart. Jinnah wants a separate country for the Muslims, making the situation worse.
Gandhi opposes the partition, but it takes place nonetheless, and religious strife breaks out throughout the whole country. Amidst blood and fire, Pakistan is born. Devastated, Gandhi announces a hunger strike until the riots come to an end. Eventually, all the fighting stops. Gandhi spends the rest of his days trying to establish peace between the two countries, culturing his share of haters from both the sides. One such man is Nathuram Godse, who shoots Gandhi in the chest on January 30, 1948. The film makes a full circle and comes back to where it started. The movie ends with the scattering of Gandhi’s ashes on the Ganga.
Analysis: ‘Gandhi’ is a masterpiece. It took 20 years for Sir Attenborough to get the movie made. The result is a poignant depiction of Gandhi’s life. Be it the emphasis on his simple living or his struggle for independence against the British, the movie never goes over the top with anything, maintaining a perfect balance. The cinematography by Ronnie Taylor and Billie Williams is outstanding. The landscapes of rural India, the brutality of Jallianwalla Bagh, the savagery of the partition, their camera never fails to capture the details. The music by Pandit Ravi Shankar is soulful and fits the mood of the film. In ‘Gandhi’ everything is in its right place.
Star Performances: Sir Ben Kingsley delivers a top notch performance. He gets the walk, the gait, and other physical features right. For many minutes, the camera simply lingers on his face. His eyes convey Gandhi’s steely determination and his smile highlights the Mahatma’s simple, humble nature. Rohini Hattangadi shines as Kasturba Gandhi. Her scenes with Sir Kingsley are honest and effortless. Other than that, Roshan Seth does a splendid job as Pandit Nehru and Edward Fox impresses as General Dyer.
1. Sir Kingsley’s superlative performance.
2. Sir Attenborough’s direction.
3. The cinematography by Ronnie Taylor and Billie Williams.
4. The promising supporting cast led by Rohini Hattangadi, Edward Fox, and Roshan Seth.
5. The costumes and the makeup are perfect.
6. Pandit Ravi Shankar’s soothing music.
What’s not there?
1. The movie doesn’t display all the aspects of the Mahatma’s life. But it’s difficult to cover every single thing of his rather eventful life in one film.
Verdict: In all its glory, ‘Gandhi’ is an epic. It’s impossible to present everything that took place in his life, but Sir Richard Attenborough skilfully paints an honest portrait of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, managing to show this ordinary man’s extraordinary life. Sir Ben Kingsley’s performance is what makes the movie bigger and better. It is like, he crawls into Gandhi’s skin and makes it his own. Undoubtedly, ‘Gandhi’ is one of the best motion pictures ever made.
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