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News18 » Videos » News18 Shorts

Interpreting the Mahatma on celluloid

Oct 01, 2007 11:46 PM IST India India
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New Delhi: From Attenborough's Gandhi to Feroze Khan's Gandhi My Father, does the renewed celluloid interest in Gandhi in over two decades also reflect a change in attitude towards the Mahatma? Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi made his full fledged 70mm debut with Richard Attenborough's Gandhi in 1982. With Ben Kingsley as Gandhi, the film was more or less a faithful adaptation of the Mahatama's life. Attenborough's tribute to Bapu clinched eight Academy awards, and was everything you would want to see in a film that deified the Father of the Nation for its people. The more humane side of the Mahatama emerged in Shyam Benegal's 1996 biopic, The Making of the Mahatama. It brought to life Gandhi the man and not only highlighted his strengths but also looked at some of his follies, his rather troubled relationship with his family — which at times bordered on chauvisnism. Though the film dodged any controversial stand, the reverential attitude was slowly giving way. In 2000 came Kamal Haasan's Hey Ram — the story of Saket Ram who is on a mission to kill Gandhi. The film tracked Saket's journey from being a Gandhi-hater to becoming a Gandhian. Unconventional in story and treatment, Hey Ram saw protests from both the Right wing and Congress representatives for the out of the box portrayal of the Mahatama was hard to digest for many. However, Gandhi's biggest onscreen makeover came in 2006, when the lovable gangster Munnabhai teamed up with the Father of the Nation and coined the term Gandhigiri — the Mahatama was reborn, repackaged as a contemporary icon of peace and tolerance. But more recently there was Feroze Khan's Gandhi My Father — a film which took a hard and critical look at Gandhi's stormy and troubled relationship with his eldest son Harilal. It portrayed the Father of the Nation, who failed as a father to his son. But the film didn't make any impact at the box-office. In over two decades, filmmakers have slowly opened to interpreting the Mahatama in ways more than one, but it looks like it may take the audience some more time to warm up to the idea of portraying Gandhi not merely as a Mahatama.

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