Gandhi – Movie – Review

Gandhi - Ben Kingsley - Featured

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind

Gandhi – Synopsis

This acclaimed biographical drama presents major events in the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the beloved Indian leader who stood against British rule over his country. Dedicated to the concept of nonviolent resistance, Gandhi is initially dismissed by English officials, including the influential Lord Irwin, but eventually, he and his cause become internationally renowned, and his gatherings of passive protest move India towards independence.

Year: 1982
Countries: India, UK
Language: English
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Richard Attenborough
Writer: John Briley
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Martin Sheen

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Gandhi – Review

‘Gandhi’ is an Academy Award-winning film and is often included in lists like ‘Greatest Movies Ever’ or ‘XYZ Movies You Should Watch Before You Die’. I too had a great interest in watching this film but, for some reason, I could not watch it. Finally, the opportunity fell into my lap when my friend recommended I watch this movie for Gandhi Jayanti (Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi). So, I was finally able to watch it last week but is it worthy of all the praises it gets? Is it one of the greatest movies ever? Let us find out!

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma), most of you probably know about him or if you do not know about him, you must have heard this name at least once in your life. Gandhi, commonly known as (in India) ‘Mahatma’ (Mahan/great + aatma/soul = great soul) was a prominent Indian political leader who fought for India’s independence. The world idolizes Mahatma Gandhi for his non-violent way of passive resistance to British rule over the Indian subcontinent. Gandhi has since been a beacon of hope and a hero for the suppressed masses to take on a path of non-violence (ahimsa) and truth (satyagraha) to fight their oppressors.

The Mindblowing

Ben Kingsley played Mahatma Gandhi. From what I gathered from Ben’s IMDb, he was not an established film actor at that time. He mainly did TV shows and ‘Gandhi’ was one of the first if not the first films he did. Yet, he was simply outstanding as Mahatma Gandhi. He left a probably long-lasting impression on me. Over the past week, Mahatma Gandhi popped up quite often in my mind. Each time two images popped up – one of real Mahatma Gandhi and another one of Ben as Mahatma Gandhi. Even consciously, whenever I think about Mahatma Gandhi, Ben’s avatar also pops up!  He was such a perfect fit for this role. Definitely deserves his Academy Award and Golden Globe for his performance.

The film is over 3 hours long. When I saw the run-time, I was dreading to start. No way I could finish such a long film in one go (also, I am bad at managing time). I have seen many 1 ½ hour-long films in multiple sittings because of that. (That is also the reason why you are seeing more reviews from Poornima) To my grand surprise, I finished the movie in one sitting! Not just that, I was left wanting more!!!! The movie felt too fast. Everything was happening quickly. ‘Too fast’ – is a compliment. It covers Mahatma’s life in South Africa to his assassination. That is over 50 years of Mahatma’s life in just one film – spread nicely over a span of 3 hours. Obviously, it is impossible to encompass every detail of his life but the film already emphasizes that in the beginning.

Gandhi - Movie - Note

The film does not go in every detail but it successfully shows who Mahatma was – his values of non-violence and tolerance, his views on casteism, women empowerment, his wit and his determination to make India an independent country, covers all major events including the burning of English cloth, Jaliyanwala Bagh and Dandi March.

Visually ‘Gandhi’ is sublime. In my opinion, highlights are the train scenes and funeral scene. The scene of Jaliyanwala Bagh is quite unnerving. When I realized what was coming, I braced myself for nasty scenes of a bloodbath. Fortunately, it was not as bloody as I had expected. However, even without the modern makeup technology and techniques, it was still gut-wrenching to see that scene. Just thinking about what people went through send a chill down my spine.

In the end, there is a beautiful and very calming version of Gandhi’s favourite Bhajan ‘Vaishnav Jana To’ (written by Narsinh Mehta). It was Mahatma’s favourite bhajan. The inclusion of this bhajan makes ‘Gandhi’ a perfect package!

The Good

When I started the film, I had expected it to be a multilingual film with Hindi and a bit of Gujarati with English subtitles. Hindi because most of the interactions with Indians would have happened in Hindi. Gujarati because he was a Gujarati by birth and it was his native language. His conversations with his family and his wife, Kasturba, should have been in Gujarati. However, there were not many moments like that which was slightly disappointing.

However, that was my expectation regarding the languages portion, just for authenticity’s sake. Despite having ‘all English’ dialogues, nothing seemed unnatural. A couple of times I found it weird but other times, it was great! It was not dubbed so that also helped. In addition, despite having Gujarati roots, I do not think that Ben knows any Gujarati at all. I am not sure about his Hindi proficiency either. I think he was in a Bollywood movie called ‘Teen Patti’. I have not seen it but I assume he had Hindi dialogues (let me know in comments below!) so he probably knows Hindi, no guarantees about fluency though. I am not discrediting the movie but a couple of native language dialogues would have vastly uplifted the worth of the movie in my opinion.


So, does ‘Gandhi’ deserve all the praises it gets? Definitely! It has a long list of awards including eight Academy Awards to show for it! Is it among those ‘Greatest Movies Ever’ list? For sure!

In my opinion, ‘Gandhi’ is a must-watch film. If you look at the run-time, it will seem lengthy but do not worry. You will not notice it! It is a perfect homage to one of the greatest men in modern India.

If you are interested in knowing more about Mahatma Gandhi then you should definitely read his autobiography ‘સત્યના પ્રયોગો’ (The Story of my Experiments with Truth).

P.S. You will notice that there is no ‘con’ section because the movie is just that good!

Gandhi - Ratings
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Gandhi is a must-watch film. I cannot stress enough how wonderful it is to watch Mahatma Gandhi’s portrayal on screen.

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About Mit

A proud introvert with a love for the big and small screen world. Have an obsession with the world of Asian Cinema. Welcome inside my Asian plagued mind.

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