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Oct 02, 2019
9:32PM

The Gandhi imprint: India's cinematic muse down the ages

Representational pic
Mahatma Gandhi, whose beliefs inspired an entire school of thought, influenced films down many decades, some based on his life, others on the values he inspired in society and many in which he's the silent backdrop -- literally a picture on the wall -- to the hero's moral conflict.

His imprint on celluloid has been indelible and varied, going from shades of black and white to technicolour.

From "Jagriti" in 1954 to "Lage Raho Munnabhai" in 2006, the arc is long. Hindi poet Kavi Pradeep eulogised Gandhiji in the "Jagriti" song, "De di hamein azadi bina khadag bina dhaal, sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamal', words which underscore reverence for him and still reverberate.

Other films of the era recall the complex idealism that Gandhi represented. The 1957 Dilip Kumar starrer "Naya Daur" deals with the man versus machine debate. And V Shantaram's "Do Ankhen Barah Haath", released the same year, focuses on the rehabilitation of six criminals by a humane jail warden. More recently, "Lage Raho Munnabhai" gave new meaning to "Gandhigiri" through the story of a simple-hearted goon who finds guidance in Gandhi's teachings.

There is an entire genre of films based on chapters from Gandhi's life. The most famous -- and most successful -- is Richard Attenborough's 1983 Oscar winner "Gandhi" with Ben Kingsley in the central role. While "Gandhi" takes a sweeping view of Gandhiji's life, right till his assassination, many films have chosen to focus on specific phases.

Shyam Benegal's "The Making of the Mahatma" focuses on his South Africa years and about Gandhi's process of understanding things and the story of his evolution. "Gandhi, My Father" is another film giving glimpses into his personal life.

There are other films in which Gandhiji plays a prominent role -- "The Legend Of Bhagat Singh", "Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero",  "Viceroy's House" and the TV show "Samvidhaan" being some of them.

Various actors have played the man. Darshan Jariwala ("Gandhi, My Father"), Surendra Rajan ("The Legend Of Bhagat Singh", "Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero", "The Last Days Of The Raj" and web show "Bose: Dead/Alive), Neeraj Kabi ("Viceroy's House" and "Samvidhaan"), Rajit Kapoor ("The Making of the Mahatma") and Dilip Prabhavalkar ("Lage Raho Munnabhai").

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