Gandhi actor Ben Kingsley once revealed 400,000 Indians participated in film's funeral scene: 'There was no CGI'
There have been various versions of Mahatma Gandhi played in Indian and international films. However, nothing has come close to Ben Kingsley's portrayal of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The British actor essayed the role of the Indian patriot in the 1982 film Gandhi which, in the actor's words, was the golden door to the film industry.
Revisiting the film in 2019, Ben shared a few anecdotes about the film. One of which was about the funeral scene featured in the movie. He revealed that about 400,000 people turned up for the scene.
“I think that the coincidence of loving (Gandhi) deeply as a man to portray, did empower me through those long demanding days in India. And people in India were enormously generous. You see, there was no CGI, can you believe that? That is four hundred thousand people at his funeral. That felt extraordinary to me,” he said, in a video for GQ.
Ben also confessed he thought it was impossible to recreate Gandhi on the big screen. “I remember Richard Attenborough invited me to watch some footage of Mahatma Gandhi with him and there's - he's very well documented, recordings photographs and unusual footage because he was an iconic character - and I watched five hours of news reel footage in one sitting, decided that it was impossible, left the cinema and didn't look at anymore footage ever again. But Attenborough made the impossible, possible. It was like standing on the foothills of the largest ice covered mountain you've ever seen thinking I'll go up one foot and slide down five. But he got me through it,” he said.
Gandhi also starred Rohini Hattangadi, Saeed Jaffrey, Om Puri, Amrish Puri and Neena Gupta, among other actors. The film won eight awards at the Oscars, with costume designer Bhanu Athaiya becoming the first Indian to have won an Academy Award.