April 19, 2013

Thoughts on Gandhi: The movie

Last weekend I got to watch the epic Oscar winning movie "Gandhi". Such a brilliantly crafted movie, and it left me with a number of things to ponder upon:

Gandhi: The movie: One of the finest movie I have ever had an opportunity to watch. And it would have a been a huge disappointment had it not won the number of Academy Awards it won in the end. Ben Kingsley produced an effortless act in portraying Gandhi while the director Richard Attenborough did an impossible job of recreating the historical facts to the closest. And it was also heartening to see some of the finest Indian Cinema actors like Saeed Jaffrey, Amrish Puri and Rohini Hattangadi to name a few, in their prime, executing their roles to the perfection.

History: I have not been a big fan of History. History, like many other Art subjects, has always been scary. And it's because, our School systems encourage us to concentrate on getting as high marks as possible. So, the focus is on mugging up the historical facts and other stuffs rather than understanding and should I dare say "enjoying" them. It is such a shame that we are required to cram up pile-loads of books on Social Studies but seldom does any school take an initiative to show such a fine movie to school kids. I can easily say that children would learn a lot more from this movie rather than narrating pages after pages of History books in school classes. 

Hindu-Muslim riots: Watching the riots portrayed in the movie, what I could deduce was that Muslims at that time were afraid of being a 'minority' in India. That is why they, in the form of Jinnah, wanted a separate nation. Those who were left behind here did not believe that Hindus would let them live with equality. Hindus on the other hand had similar fears. There would also have been that idiotic thought of claiming the political powers to have an 'upper hand', which led them to fight. And once the bloodshed started the original agenda would have been left far behind. The most disappointing thing about all this is that the Indians of 21st Century still have the same mentality. And numerous small/large riots in the past many years is proof of the same. Instead of trusting each other, we still are scared of each other. Elections are still fought on religious agendas rather than on issues such as Development and Corruption. And this plays a role even in the big nuance of terrorism in this country. If only we could start to see each other as Indians before Hindus or Muslims...

From Flickr. Under CC License.

Gandhi: The man: While I have my doubts whether his methods are relevant or suitable to solve the problems of today, I do agree that they are very effective. But at the same time, only a man of his resolve and tenacity can live up to them. 'How' he did it is even more baffling than 'What' he was able to attain in his life. Fully knowing the implications of the act and still trusting yourself to be able to execute it properly is a scary thing. But he did it time and again. It's only an irony that the man of peace died of a bullet.

Historical figures: I do not claim to know a lot of prominent historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi, or Netaji Bose or Pandit Nehru or even the recent ones like Indira Gandhi. Whatever little knowledge I have, has been gathered from school books, teachers, friends, parents and movies. And none of these sources can be trusted fully for they only talk about certain 'publicly known' historical facts which are also sometimes twisted. These sources never fully enlighten as to what kind of person these figures were in real life. I just cannot really believe that they were all good in everything they did in their life.

Delhi, 3 decades ago: I have been raised in Delhi, so naturally I have special place in my heart for this city. Even though the movie tried to portray the Delhi of pre-independence era, since it was made in 1980s, what you essentially see is Delhi of 3 decades back. And it was heartening to see the simplicity and peace of the City shown at that time. I am sure it would have been a surreal experience living in Delhi at that time, even without the metros, and the highways and the malls that have cropped up in last 2 decades or so.

PS: Do watch 'Gandhi' if you haven't already. I am sure, you won't regret spending 3 hours on it.