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'Gandhi My Father' Review: A Must Seen

'Gandhi My Father' Review: A Must Seen

Film: Gandhi-My Father
Cast: Akshay Khanna, Darshan Jariwala, Shefali Ali, Bhoomika etc
Editing: Sriikar Prasad
Cinematography: David Mc Donald
Art: Nitin Desai
Direction: Firoz
Production: Anil Kapoor
Release Date: 3rd Aug 2007

It’s a film that keeps entire nation in astonishment. It’s an unpleasant surprise to know the plight of the eldest son of our father of nation.

Story:
There is no fiction in this film as the note rolls on screen in the very beginning stating, ‘Based on true incidents’.

Harilal Gandhi (Akshaye Khanna), the eldest son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Darshan Jariwala), is a beloved one for his parents. He wishes to become barrister from London like his Dad. He starts his education in Rajkot, Gujarat and finds unable to get through the Metric Examination itself. Gandhi, along with his wife Kasturi Ba (Shefali) and three younger kids lives in South Africa as an advocate. He never holds any confidence on his son Harilal and his education.

Harilal marries Gulab (Bhoomika) and after a while he leaves for South Africa to start a job there at his Dad. Gandhi welcomes him and keeps with him. He also brings Harilal’s wife to his place. Harilal’s life ambition is to go London and study barrister of law. But he gets no positive feedback from his dad. Gandhi knows the strength of his son. He wants to see him stand on his own with impeccable individuality. But Harilal is only driven by his desires. Kasturba gets sandwiched between a highly sane, perfectionist husband and an innocent, indecisive son. Harilal believes that his Dad has no soft corner for him. Although Gandhi has love for Harilal that never reaches the latter’s heart.

As series of incidents hit him due to mismatch of wavelength between him and his father, Harilal grows mild and under confident. Harilal misses direction and his plight goes worse with the death of his wife Gulab.

He gets addicted to alcohol. He does prostitution.

He takes up Islam and becomes Abdullah. Again he comes back to Hinduism. He holds no grip on his self.

He shuns alcohol for sometime supporting his dad in freedom movement, but when an affluent group honors him with a peg of alcohol saying that no one is seeing him, he drinks that happily. He has no hold on his self control.

He speaks in support of freedom and makes a few agitations. But when India gets Independence on the night of 15th August 1947, he sits in a corner as beggar unknown, unnoticed and unidentified.

When his father (THE FATHER OF ENTIRE NATION) falls with the blow of bullets, the nation roars in misery. But Harilal, the eldest son of Gandhi, who has to lit fire to the body of his father goes unnoticed in the mobs with long beard of a beggar. He tries to reach the burning body of his father but crumbles in stampede. None believes him saying the son of Mahatma Gandhi. After 5 months of Gandhi’s demise, his eldest son Harilal too leaves his body in a hospital unnoticed and unidentified.

Performances:
The performances of each and every one are so good that the hearts and minds have vacillated in the times between 1906 and 1948. The Art direction of Nitin Desai scores big and the screenplay is the real heart of this film. Although narrated in bits and pieces as the flashes of Harilal’s past, the film gripped the audiences with a great historical and nostalgic retreat. Director and writer have done a marvelous job without exaggerating any scene and without glorifying anyone, including Gandhi. The film neither tried to convince the audience who is right. It’s a true projection on celluloid about the son of the Historical legend, Gandhi.

Akshaye Khanna’s performance as Harilal is marvelous. Darshan Jariwala’s portrayal as Gandhi depicting the stages of his age is impressive. Shefali’s role of Kasturba deserves great mention for the pathos depicted in the family drama of Gandhi. Bhoomika is adequate as Gulab Gandhi, the daughter in law of Gandhi.

Hitting Dialogues:
(Gandhiji with Kasturba when his son Harilal converts as Mulsim)
Gandhiji: Hindus and Muslims are like my two eyes. Let our son be Harilal or Abdullah, we have to treat him the same.
Gandhiji: I couldn’t convince just two persons in my entire life. One is my friend Md Ali Zinnah and the other is my own son Harilal.

Analysis:
Gandhiji’s eldest son died like a beggar and orphan. That too just 5 months after Gandhi got assassinated. Can we believe this? But we have to. It’s the true story of Gandhiji’s eldest son known to the world with this film, after 60 years of his demise.

It’s a true story. Truth tastes bitter for many. So, it may not run well at box office. But it runs well in the minds of those who wish to know true history and the true lives of historical personalities and their families.

How the time has driven Mahatma Gandhi’s son to die as a beggar and orphan in a General hospital? Should Gandhi be blamed for the miserable plight of his son? Should the son himself be blamed for his wretched life? Or should we feel pity of both the father and his son for the bitterness discharged by fate? The cognitions of every viewer shuttles between these questions and the answer cannot be found in unanimity.

Well, the story is not over. We may know different facets of Gandhiji’s life if more films are made based on true narrations like this.

Bottom Line:
Gandhiji is History. And this film is His Story and His Son’s Story. Please Watch it.

(SiraSri can be reached at sirasri@gmail.com)

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