He inspired an entire generation to fight for independence through non-violent means. Mahatma Gandhi will always be known as the chief architect and hero of India’s freedom struggle. Movie makers have been fascinated with understanding and demystifying this loin-cloth-clad hero. We look at movies that explored the great icon’s persona. These are movies that still keep the legacy of Bapu, as we fondly call him, alive.
Can we begin with any film other than Richard Attenborough’s eternal classic? Gandhi was a biopic which depicted his association with the independence movement. The Mahatma was brought to life by Ben Kingsley. The movie went on to win a total of eight Oscars including Best Actor for Kingsley. It is a masterpiece that has been lauded by audience and critics alike. Rarely has a movie captured the personality of a historical figure with such brilliance
This movie is a biopic of free India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It recounts his pivotal role in the freedom struggle and the formation of free India’s first government. The movie also explores Sardar Patel’s chequered relationship with Mahatma Gandhi. At various times during the history of the freedom struggle, they had conflicting ideologies. It is an excellent take on Mahatma Gandhi’s principles from the perspective of someone who was both an admirer and a critic. Paresh Rawal was outstanding as Sardar Patel and was ably complemented by Annu Kapoor as Mahatma Gandhi.
How did Gandhi become a ‘Mahatma’? What inspired him to launch non-violent movements to overthrow oppressive regimes? Answers to these questions can be found in his formative years as a practising barrister in South Africa. Noted filmmaker Shyam Benegal gives a biographical account of this period in his movie. Rajit Kapur, of Byomkesh Bakshi fame, gave a flawless performance as the young Gandhi. He was justly rewarded with a National Film Award for Best Actor. Watch the movie to know more about the Mahatma’s life before he became the face of India’s freedom movement
A victim of partition sets out to take revenge by assassinating Mahatma Gandhi. After some interesting turn of events, he begins to appreciate the Mahatma and his principles. He decides to confess to the Mahatma about his plot to kill him, but it is too late. A politico-fiction drama, it effectively portrayed the polarising views that Mahatma Gandhi drew from people. With leading lights of Indian cinema including Kamal Haasan, Shahrukh Khan, and Naseeruddin Shah, the movie boasted of impeccable performances. The film was hailed by many as being way ahead of its time
Lage Raho Munna Bhai brought back Gandhian philosophies into mainstream Indian society by rebranding it as ‘Gandhigiri’. Rajkumar Hirani pulled off a coup when he portrayed the Mahatma as an illusion in his sequel to Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. Sanjay Dutt stole the show as Munna Bhai, the affable gangster who hallucinates about Bapu. Bapu’s entertaining yet poignant portrayal by Dilip Prabhavalkar struck a chord with the masses, and the film was a colossal hit
This movie explored Mahatma Gandhi’s strained relationship with his eldest son Harilal Gandhi. It depicted Harilal’s disillusionment with his father, who ironically was ‘The Father of the Nation’. The film was a brilliant depiction of a son unable to come to terms with living under a famous father’s enormous shadow. It showed a different and little-known side of the Mahatma. The movie was critically acclaimed and won three National Film Awards