After the screening of Gandhi My Father in South Africa, the movie's producer Anil Kapoor said it was a glorious 'homecoming' for Mahatma Gandhi.
South African President Thabo Mbeki made the time to attend the film's premiere this weekend in Johannesberg. Anil couldn't hold back his tears when Mbeki spoke about Gandhi before the premiere.
"The entire South African cabinet was there with us. The president himself spent more than five hours with me and the director and cast of Gandhi My Father," Anil told IANS on return.
"Nelson Mandela sent a special message for the film's opening. Mandela not only spoke about Gandhi, he spoke about me. What was heart-warming and humbling was that he thanked me for making this film, whereas I should thank him and South Africa for letting me shoot Gandhi My Father in their country and allowing me to hold the world premiere there. Mandela identified deeply with the film," Anil said.
After the South African experience, Anil feels Gandhi My Father is his most special experience in the movie business.
"Though I had watched the film earlier, this experience was something else. Because my cast - Darshan Jariwala, who plays Mahatma Gandhi, Shefali Shah, who plays Kasturba and Akshaye Khanna, who plays their son - were not treated as actors but the characters. The foreigners didn't know who our actors were. So they addressed the three actors as Gandhi, Kasturba and Harilal," Anil added.
The film revolves around Gandhi's problematic relationship with his eldest son Harilal.
"It's gone beyond any of my expectations. Gandhi My Father has taken on its own life. I don't know where this film is taking me. I'm interacting with people who would never have been accessible to me as a conventional Mumbai actor.
"When President Mbeki said that he'll show the film in the Ivory Coast, I felt I had got the biggest award of my life. He feels the film might bring together the warring factions in the Ivory Coast. I feel the film is going beyond boundaries now," he said.
Gandhi My Father will be released in India August 3 but there will be no more premieres of the film.
"There was only one premiere of the film. And that was at South Africa. Now I'll only have screenings in Delhi, Mumbai and worldwide," Anil added.