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Gandhi my father: a tale of Mahatma's son

Anil Kapoor's first production Gandhi My Father, sensitively explores the personal crises in Mahatma's life and his troubled relationship with his eldest son Harilal.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2007 12:05 IST
Prithwish Ganguly
Prithwish Ganguly

Anil Kapoor's first independent film production Gandhi My Father, sensitively explores the personal crises in Mahatma's life and his troubled relationship with his eldest son Harilal.

Directed by veteran theatre personality Feroz Abbas Khan, it is the first attempt to bring out the more humane aspects of India's most charismatic political leader whose non-violent means of protest earned India its freedom in 1947. The film will be released August 3.

Previous films on the Mahatma, like Richard Attenborough's Gandhi, Shyam Benegal's The Making of the Mahatma or the contemporary Lage Raho Munnabhai - which deals with Gandhian principles - did not go very deep into the personal life of the father of the nation.

"The film shows Mahatma's troubled relationship with his son Harilal. The film, without being biased to any of the characters, explores why it happened and narrates their differences which creep in when Mahatma does not allow his son to become a lawyer like him," Feroz told IANS.

Anil Kapoor makes his debut as a producer in Gandhi My Father. Darshan Jariwala stars as Mahatma Gandhi, Shefali Shah plays his wife Kasturba, Akshaye Khanna plays Harilal and Bhumika Chawla portrayes the role of Harilal's wife Gulab.

The film narrates incidents in the life of the Mahatma from 1906 to 1948 and uses the then socio-political structure as its backdrop. It has been shot in two languages - Hindi and English - over a period of 100 days.

Feroz believes that the film is balanced in its viewpoint.

<b1>"The film, I believe, has been able to play the balancing act of not portraying either Gandhiji or Harilal as the villain," he said. "We have not judged whether the characters are good or bad. The film attempts to sensitively narrate the story from Harilal's point of view. He is a son who is searching for his father."

Harilal Gandhi is shown to be a person who was never afraid to voice his opinion in front of the Mahatma but was overshadowed by his father. He had at one point embraced Islam as a rebellion against his father but reconverted to Hinduism later.

"The film focuses on Harilal's point of view, what he thinks of having a father like the Mahatma. He is a man overshadowed by the persona of Gandhiji, who loved his family members for sure. But he loved his country much more. It was through Mahatma's personal tragedy and sacrifice that the nation won its freedom," said Feroz.

He added that the women characters in the film - Kasturba and Gulab - play vital roles in highlighting the rift between father and son.

"The role of Kasturba is very important. The person who was caught between her absolute devotion to Gandhiji and her deep love for Harilal was Kasturba. She was right there in the middle, caught in the crossfire.

"Gulab believed in her husband and cared for him. But she also believed in the principles of the Mahatma. So, this film has very powerful moments with women which highlight the tension in the family."

Debutant producer Anil Kapoor said he was initially very apprehensive about the sensitive subject. But he decided to take it up, he added, because the script was very powerful and it appealed to him emotionally.

"Taking up period films and specially with such a subject matter is always a risk but when Feroz narrated the script, I immediately agreed to take it up because it is one of the best scripts I've heard in my life," he said.

First Published: Jun 27, 2007 11:13 IST