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Review: Gandhi My Father
The best aspect of multiplexes is that film-makers have got the confidence to make subjects they believe in. I guess even a decade back a ‘commercial actor’ like Anil Kapoor wouldn’t have dared to make Gandhi My Father, but now the things have changed.

GANDHI MY FATHER by Feroz Abbas Khan brings to screen the so far lesser known story of Harilal Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s eldest son and the film explores his, rather his son’s (Harilal’s) troubled relationship with him (Mahatma).


The film opens in 1906, with a young Harilal (Akshaye Khanna) playing a football match in his native place, Rajkot. The bond between him and his would be wife, Gulab (Bhumika Chawla) is established very succinctly.


Then the film straight away cuts to South Africa, where Mahatma (Darshan Zariwala) is established, all set to take the road from being Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to Mahatma Gandhi. He stays with his wife Kastur (Shefali Chhaya) and three younger sons.


The first chinks in the father-son relationship are established when Harilal marries Gulab without the approval of Gandhi and then it is a steady road down, as their relationship drains from bad to worse; till Bapu falls to the bullets of an assassin in 1948 and five months later Harilal too dies in penury in a hospital in Bombay.


The film’s production design by Nitin Chandrakant Desai and sound design by Ressul Phekooty are the best aspects. Writing is good, but the film instead of concentrating on the main protagonist, Harilal, time and again deviates to Gandhi. It might be a conscious decision on the writer’s part, but this works against the pace of the film.


Editing by Sreekar Prasad could have been sharper. The films’ length of 140 odd minutes is totally unwarranted, in fact if the film was trimmed say about 20 minutes or so, the film would have had a much stronger impact.


Akshaye Khanna is first rate as Harilal Gandhi. The pain and the machinations of being unable to match up to his illustrious father are so natural; probably his best performance till date.


He is amazing in a few sequences:


  • His confrontation with his mother after embracing Islam.
  • The drunken scene where he is rounded up by the police.
  • The breaking-down scene in his mohalla.
  • His final collapse after the demise of his wife, Gulab.
  • The scene after the death of Gandhi, where he merely reacts to Dhaba owner. Anguish mixed with anger. Amazing!

These sequences stay with the viewer.


Darshan Zariwala as Gandhi had an arduous task. He had to erase from audiences’ memory two Gandhi’s – Ben Kingsley and the very recent, Dilip Prabhavalkar (Lage Raho Munnabhai). The writers’ have helped him greatly in the sense that they have inculcated the fun and caring side of Gandhi and Darshan Zariwala does a fine job of it. However, he ought to have much more impact in the scene where he accepts his two failures – Jinnah and his own son, Harilal.


Shefali Chhaya and Bhumika Chawla provide able support.


Directorially, theatre veteran, Feroz Abbas Khan makes a confident debut; but the close shots of myriad characters: Tonga wala, Victoria driver, motley crew of actors, the female aides of Gandhi ji; are plain blank.


What’s the point of using expressionless close shots?


This film will appeal only to a section of class owing to its slow pace.


Rating: 6 on 10




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