Gandhi My Father


Gandhi My Father is a historical film spanning decades which depicts facts, is non-judgmental, sensitive and humane. The film delves in to the lives of the great Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi and his eldest son Harilal Gandhi. It depicts the strained relationship between the two from the start to the end. Although Mahatma Gandhi was largely responsible for India’s independence through his non-violent ways and through his ideals, it was these very high ideals that alienated him from his son Harilal. Although the film deals with history and facts it tells a part of history that is scarcely known. It’s sensitive and humane portrayal of both the Mahatma Gandhi and Harilal makes one empathise and sympathise with both characters. The film’s look is exceptional and takes one back to another era. However at times the film moves forth in a slow manner and gets talk heavy, this may make audiences bored at times. However the film is definitely for a more selective audience as it lacks the usual chutzpah and drama of a totally commercial film. Nonetheless it is a good unique film which is sensitive and touching.

Gandhi My Father is actor Anil Kapoor’s first film as a producer and the screenplay and direction has been done by debutant Feroz Abbas Khan. The film stars Akshaye Khanna as Harilal, Darshan Jariwala as Mahatma Gandhi, Bhumika Chawala as Gulab Gandhi, Shefali Chhaya as Kasturba Gandhi etc.

Gandhi My Father depicts the various conflicts between Harilal and his father Mahatma Gandhi right from the young lad’s childhood. It also delves into Mahatma Gandhi’s young days and his later years of the independence struggle are also prominent. The struggles between Mahatma and Harilal began at a young age when Harilal was denied a scholarship to England twice due to his father’s ideals. Harilal is further alienated and hardly has any friends due to being relocated to different schools as the Mahatma was constantly relocated to different places. Harilal gradually became more rebellious as Gandhi got more involved in the freedom struggle.

Mahatma Gandhi had very high ideals and expected his family to live up to those values too but Harilal was unable to and hence he had a very strained relationship with his father. While for the Mahatma his first priority was always to his nation India, for Harilal it was always his wife and children. Harilal later converted to Islam as a rebellious means and then later reconverted to Hinduism as a form of penance. He became an alcoholic due to the strain and hardship that he faced which ultimately took his life.

Feroz Abbas Khan as a director sticks to facts and various scenes from the life of the Mahatma are depicted factually. The director executes the film adeptly, accurately and with finesse. The scenes open and close with a distinct uniqueness that befits the old era. The independence struggle of India is also shown as an important background because it forms a vital part of Mahatma and Harilal’s lives and cannot be separated as it was one of the main reasons that alienated father and son. Feroz Khan manages to capture the emotions of his characters through their body language, facial expressions and their eyes. He tries to steer clear of any embellishments as he does not want to take sides but simply depict what was the situation between father and son. Harilal’s outbursts are profound and depicted with a lot of emotion. The director gives a very humane and touching portrayal of both the characters.

However Feroz Khan’s screenplay could have been tighter as there are few scenes which could have been edited completely. The pace too moves forth very slowly and the continuity between scenes has been forsaken thereby allowing a bit of monotony to creep in at times. What also tends to go against the film at times is that while the facts are depicted often the reasoning and thought of the characters decisions are left aside. Nonetheless despite these few hiccups, Gandhi My Father comes across as a good film that leaves a mark on the audiences.

Cinematography is worthy of praise as it recreates an era that is long gone. The dim lighting and grainy frames are part of the effects. Sets have been given a special old world look. The look given to the characters including the make up by Penny is first rate and it captures the transition of the characters from a young age to their older years with grace and maturity. Background score is in keeping with the theme and times of the era. Dialogues are simplistic and often also depict an underlying wit and intellect.

Performances are first rate. Darshan Jariwala gives immense dignity and maturity to the character of the Mahatma. He portrays a different but touching and humane side to his character. Akshaye Khanna as Harilal gives an applaudable performance and the vulnerability he gives his character is simply heartfelt. He portrays varied emotions of anger, resentment, love, guilt through various means like his outbursts, his silence, his eyes and his weaknesses. Shefali Chhaya as Kasturba portrays the torment of a mother torn between her husband and son with naturalness and Bhumika Chawala delivers a simplistic yet adequate performance.

Overall the film is a wonderful interpretation of facts and through these facts one gets to see a touching, humane and sensitive story. The style of story telling too enhances the film and finally the film has some wonderful performances that lift it higher. A good intellectual and insightful film.


Related Bollywood Pictures

  • Book reading session of Gandhi My Father