Memorable films based on the lessons Mahatma Gandhi taught us

As someone who played more than an instrumental role in India’s freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi has been a fascinating subject for several filmmakers over the years. On his 145th birthday today, we list a few films that have explored his life story in diverse ways

The bespectacled, dhoti-clad man, who changed the country’s future with his ideals of peace and non-violence, has influenced every Indian at some point of time in their lives. Assassinated 66 years ago by Nathuram Godse, Mahatma Gandhi has also had several Indian filmmakers firmly in his thrall, his lifestory providing fodder to their cinematic experiments. As the nation pays tribute to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on his 145th birth anniversary today, we take a look at some memorable films based on the advocate of ahimsa...

Hey Ram (2000)
Hey Ram

It was Kamal Hassan’s version of Gandhi’s assassination. This partly fictional drama showed the dilemma of Nathuram Godse and the Partition of India. It was made in Hindi and Tamil with Naseeruddin Shah playing Gandhi. Although it did not manage to do well at the box office, it received worldwide appreciation and three National Awards.

The Making of the Mahatma (1996)
The Making of the Mahatma

This Shyam Benegal film focussed on the early life of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa, based on the book, The Apprenticeship of a Mahatma, by Fatima Meer. The author penned the film’s screenplay. The film won two National Awards in two categories — Best Feature Film in English and Best Actor (Rajit Kapur).

Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara (2005)
Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara

Jahnu Barua’s film may not have depicted the real Gandhi, but it narrated the story of a demented Hindi professor, Uttam Chaudhary (played by Anupam Kher), who believes that he has killed Gandhi. It is later revealed that Uttam, as a child, played darts by filling ballons with red dye and placing it on someone’s (Gandhi, in this case) picture. He feels caged in his house and fears his food has been poisioned. The film failed to rake in the moolah but received critical applause.

Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2007)
Lage Raho Munna Bhai

This Rajkumar Hirani film brought Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence and peace back into the limelight. Lead actor, Sanjay Dutt, who pretends to be a professor, hallucinates about Gandhi, played by Dilip Prabhwalkar. The Mahatma, although a figment of his imagination, teaches him the value of truth and ways to solve issues through non-violent methods. It popularised the term ‘Gandhigiri’, which means following Gandhi’s teachings.

Gandhi, My Father (2007)
Gandhi, My Father

The movie is based on the biography of Harilal Gandhi, titled Harilal Gandhi: A Life by Chandulal Bhagubhai Dalal. The film directed by Firoz Abbas Khan had Darshan Zariwala playing Mahatma on screen and Akshay Khanna as his son, Harilal. A story of strained relations between the father-son duo, primarily due to a clash of ideals, showed Harilal abandoning his father but failing to come out of his shadow.

Road To Sangam (2010)
Road To Sangam

Amit Rai’s film was based on a small-time Muslim mechanic (Paresh Rawal), who has been tasked with repairing the engine of a Ford V8 that carried Gandhi’s ashes to Triveni Sangam. After the bomb blast, communal riots break out and real confusion begins. He then decides to follow Gandhi’s ideologies. Gandhi’s grandson Tushar Gandhi played a cameo in this film.

Dear Friend Hitler (2011)
Dear Friend Hitler

This film put the spotlight on letters written by Mohandas Gandhi to Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party and Chancellor of Germany. It was directed by Rakesh Ranjan Kumar and Avijit Dutt played the role of Gandhi. It was a box office dud and it also garnered negative reviews.

In the west

Nine Hours to Rama (1963)
Nine Hours to Rama

Directed by Mark Robson, the film was a fictional account of the last nine hours of Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s assassin. Horst Buchholz played the protagonist, while JS Casshyap portrayed Gandhi. Based on the eponymous novel by Stanley Wolpert, the film was shot in the UK and USA.

Gandhi (1982)

The first biopic of Gandhi by Richard Attenborough had Ben Kingsley essaying the title role. The film chronicles his life from the time he was thrown out of a South African train, exclusively for whites, till his assassination in 1948. It received rave reviews besides many honours, including eight Oscars.

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