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Gandhi yields rich returns on screen

Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy may be losing its relevance among the Gen Next bred on violence and action, but whenever someone tries to make a film on him or his philosophy, it brings rich returns

entertainment Updated: Jan 30, 2008 19:13 IST

Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy may be losing its relevance among the Gen Next bred on violence and action, but whenever someone tries to make a film on him or his philosophy, it brings rich returns.

Be it Richard Attenbourgh's Gandhi or Raj Kumar Hirani's Lage Raho Munnabhai, the audience lapped it up. Darshan Jariwala, who played Gandhi in Gandhi, My Father summed up the phenomenon saying: "The films succeed because the audiences see the kind of leader they want to have and the kind of values they need to succeed in life. They relate to it instantly."

"But in real life they opt for the convenient way which Mahatama Gandhi never did. I would also love to make the choices Gandhi makes in the film."

Way back in 1982, when Attenborough made an attempt to transform Gandhi's life on screen, nobody knew the film would be such a big hit. The film showed how a lawyer became a leader of Indian revolts against the British through his philosophy of non-violent protest in Gandhi and British actor Ben Kingsley's performance as Gandhi earned him the best actor Oscar.

Later in 1996, Shyam Benegal made The Making of the Mahatma with Rajit Kapur in the lead. Benegal's film was based on Fatima Meer's book, The Apprenticeship of a Mahatma and it not only won him critical acclaim, but also bagged the National Award for best actor and the best feature film in English.

Non-violence and peace is on everybody's mind, especially when the world is in the grip of terrorism. There may be different views and perspectives about him but each one of us follow him, consciously or unconsciously.

"Whatever I knew about Gandhi was through text books and lessons in school and there he is portrayed as a holy man. Today, people are presenting Gandhi in different ways, which was not done earlier. The films, which are coming now, presents him as a human being and shows that his ideals are applicable in day-to-day life," said Jahnu Barua, who made "Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara".

Barua's Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara dwells on the values of Mahatma Gandhi that are missing in today's society. Starring Anupam Kher and Urmila Matondkar, the film didn't deal with Gandhi conventionally. It won critical acclaims all over the world and Anupam won a Special Jury Award at the National Film Awards for his performance.

Gandhi, The Making of the Mahatma and Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara were classics, but Raj Kumar Hirani's Lage Raho Munnabhai was an out and out commercial film with Gandhism at its plot. Nobody expected it to click at the box office. Belying it, the Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi-starrer turned out to be a smashing hit.

The director dared to employ Gandhian philosophy to cure the society of its ills as the main theme, Lage Raho... was enjoyed thoroughly by all and sundry because it was a perfect blend of humour and intellect.

The film established the fact that Gandhi's lessons on non-violence can be seen everywhere in daily life.

Last year in Feroz Abbas Khan's Gandhi: My Father, the director showed the friction between the Mahatma and his son and the audiences liked the film because they got to see the human side of his personality, which was not seen earlier.

There were other films where Gandhi made special appearance like Ketan Mehta's Sardar, Jabbar Patel's Babasaheb Ambedkar, Veer Savarkar and not to forget Kamal Hasan's Hey Ram.

The current lot of filmmakers are trying to make films by unveiling the human side of Gandhi's personality and interpreting his philosophy in a more practical way.

"When Gandhi said if someone slaps you, offer another cheek - he used it as a metaphor. He didn't mean it literally. Similarly, his charkha was the symbol of self-reliance," Barua said.