As children each one of us is taught who Mohandas K. Gandhi is. The Father of our Nation. Lovingly called Bapu. Non-violent leader. Born in Porbandar. Swadeshi. Satyagraha. Dandi March. We’ve drawn our National flag in our copies and written essays about our freedom fighters and had plays on Gandhiji on October 2nd. We’ve learnt it all, haven’t we? We know all about him. Or do we?
Back when I was in school, I read paragraph after paragraph about India’s freedom struggle and Gandhiji’s role in it, the main motive in my head would to be remember all the darned dates and the movements and the incidents and spilling them all out correctly on the answer sheets to win those straight As. Everyone would be so happy. Mom, dad, my teachers. Dad might get me that thing I’ve been wanting so bad.
That was all he was. An assassinated freedom fighter. A pair or round specs and a stick. A person who still smiles on our currency notes. I used to form my opinion about him based on what I would hear other people say. Never really bothered to form my own. I guess I never really cared. Until I saw Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi.
It fills me with astonishment to see a non-Indian, Ben Kingsley, playing the role of Gandhiji. Even though he was born a Gujarati, he never really lived in India. He is so frighteningly believable and brilliantly convincing, it's as if the real Gandhi resurrected to act in the movie. To get into the character, to walk and talk and behave and act and feel and portray who and what Gandhi was, in a span of three hours is an unbelievably astounding feat. This movie covers everything you would have ever studied with regard to India’s fight for freedom. Now I realize the power of Cinema; of motion picture. It never really touches your heart if it’s written in bland generic statements in your school textbooks, is it? You need to see it, live it, feel the emotions, witness the events that made him the man that he was.
The scenes that showed the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the Dandi March gave me long lasting goosebumps. I had a lump in my throat as I sat back and witnessed the truest depiction of Gandhi’s life, listening to his inspiring words, looking at his infectious smile, all the time wondering how people make such movies. How they dig deep down into our history and pull out the facts and events and statements to produce something for us that would make our eyes water and hearts proud. Never have I been so touched to see a single, ever smiling man making such a global impact on the way people think and act.
Have you seen any other national leader so happy and jolly? He really makes me want to go back in time and just sit down and talk to him. Discuss my stupid problems with him and listen to him patiently telling me exactly what to do. Bless the movie makers for creating such a masterpiece. This movie couldn’t have been better. Although it still is merely a glimpse into the life of our Bapu, I couldn’t feel closer to him. Now I understand why Gandhiji is Gandhiji. Why Albert Einstein said “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” Why he is the Father of our Nation. And why he is, by all means, and in all respects, and forever in our hearts, a smiling, immensely powerful, infallible legend.
“Whenever I despair, I remember that the way of truth and love has always won. There may be tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. Think of it: always.”