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Questioning the Authenticity of a Biography Movie – Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi

  • Posted on: December 2, 2018
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There has been much criticism following the release of one of the most famous biographies ever made from the get-go. Richard Attenborough released the movie in the year 1982 and rewarded the audience with three hours of non-stop speculation into the life of the freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi. The film covers over 50 years of history in the three hours that a viewer gets to look into the life of one of the greatest men in Indian history.

What Scholars Feel About the Film

The Indian audience who were extremely excited about the launch of the movie felt a little disappointed by the light that was shone by their hero. While some of the viewers thought that the film accurately captured some unseen aspects of the life of the Mahatma, scholars felt differently. The film was made to get more footfall at the cinemas around the world and to appeal to the western spectators more than the Indian audience. While the west audience was accepting of the different concepts that were highlighted in the movie, the Indian culture would not allow the same at the time. Indians also felt that the western world knew very little about the real person behind the stories.

The movie was a massive hit with the western audience and bagged eight Oscar awards at the time including Best Picture, Best Lead Actor and Best Director. The director was able to capture much of the life of Mahatma Gandhi including his earlier life when he was a lawyer in South Africa to the time when he preached and practiced non-violence in India. While the consensus is that the director was able to capture all the essential elements that he could in three hours, there are some shortcomings.

The portrayal of the people in the film was a little under-performed. While the movie shows the journalist meeting Gandhi in South Africa, the truth of the event is that he did not meet Gandhi in South Africa. Characters such as Margaret Bourke White were captured accurately though. The most significant controversy surrounding the movie is the portrayal of ‘The Father of Pakistan’ in the film. Muhammed Ali Jinnah was depicted entirely differently from his appearance to the way he played an obstructionist in the plans that Gandhi had for India. Portraying Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a villain did not bode well with the audiences from Pakistan and divided India.

On the Indian forefront, scholars from India were not very impressed with how Gandhi was portrayed to be a soft person. His shortcomings were entirely omitted for being featured in the film. Even the lead actor who played The Mahatma, Ben Kingsley, wanted to focus on the spiritual and peace-loving side of Gandhi than the fact that he has estranged his children or the manipulative politician that he was. While many agree to look at the film as a whole and to see the character of Gandhi as a hero as he is meant to be is right, when facts are diluted in a biography, it affects history. As a film, Gandhi succeeded in every way. The movie was able to pay tribute to the man for both his historical and personal influence on the world in a positive way.