Film: Gandhi My Father
Director & Writer: Feroz Abbas Khan
Producer: Anil Kapoor
Cast: Darshan Jariwala, Akshaye Khanna, Bhumika Chawla, Shefali Shah, Daniel Janks
We all have been chained to our history books at some point in time. Learning, mugging and even vomiting dates and occurrences of a time that did not have us as a part of it. Amongst all those dates was the struggle and truly significant time of Mahatma Gandhi, of which we read all there was to. Though crammed with much, those history pages seemed void of the familial sacrifices one man made for the freedom of a nation. With time we have taken so much for granted and Gandhi My Father offers a glimpse of the cost borne by him so that we may enjoy this benefit.
The story tracks the family life of a man filled with great principles, Mahatma Gandhi. Playing the role of a father to Harilal (Akshaye Khanna) and the husband to Kasturba (Shefali Shah) was perhaps the most difficult role Gandhi (Darshan Jariwala) had to play. While Gandhi rose to stand up against the colonial humiliation in South Africa and India, his son Harilal put all his aspirations behind to support his father. He did all he could till he realizes that his dream of being a barrister like his father, will forever remain unfulfilled.
Tracking the family through the pre-independence era, the partition and the glorious independence, the film peeks into the lives of his immediate family members, namely Harilal and Kasturba. Gandhi eventually manages to free a caged nation, but fails to realize the enslaved feelings of his own son. Following the quest of a great man’s search for human dignity and equality, the film also unfolds a series of personal tragedies omitted in the history books.
The beauty in the film lies in how small and inconsequential it makes you feel. The sheer scale of the production and era it speaks of make it a worthwhile watch. The story is not read, seen or heard by many and this in particular is great, especially in a time where mundane plots are being recycled and presented. There is a cloud of darkness that engulfs this film, the complexity of unexplored relationships and emotions offer a high.
Having said all that there is only but regret that this brilliant story and remarkable attempt is not pushed beyond boundaries to offer a film that beats every other one hands down. One could go on how great an attempt it is and go on to talk about the great shot constructions and way the actors put up a brilliant performance, so on and so forth.
Yet the distress is that this film is all but a great story and that’s about it. There is nothing that has your jaw drop or eye pop, the wave of emotions that could have filled your hearts with guilt is not once explored. While the play Mahatma V/s Gandhi had you witness it first hand, the film is but a delayed medium telling a longer tale.
As mentioned the technicalities of the film are good. The shots that are captured are well framed and constructed, but then you begin wondering what if it had been some other way. However, the sound is simply awesome and the music heightens the entire experience.
The film simply traverses too long a span and goes to cover great extents, alternating between two different times. Due to this narrative pattern and a few more archive footages thrown in, you are asked to take in more than you can handle. Also the isolation of each character in each scene does nothing for the film.
Not for a second do the actors stray from their characters. Jariwala is simply outstanding playing the role of Mahatma Gandhi. Everything from his body language to the dialogue delivery has you convinced. Proving her mettle yet again, Shah gives her best performance amongst her other bests. A real shocker (in a positive way) is Khanna, who has you stand up and take notice. He brings put the variations in his characters extremely well. Chawla as Gulab Gandhi, Harilal’s wife is great as well; her eyes convey the meanings much before she utters her lines.
This is a good film not worth missing. Catch this film to discover what the books never told you, but if the Khan’s play is in town, watch that instead.