Abida Mian's Blog

An outlier that's living, learning and being myself…

Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi – the film that keeps me grounded

Jinnah & Gandhi (by South Asian Foreign Relations)

Jinnah: India- Partition- Independence by Jaswant Singh, originally uploaded by South Asian Foreign Relations.

I first watched the film Gandhi with my dad when I was a young child.

Despite my youth, I remember being transfixed to the screen and feeling nothing but admiration for Gandhi’s struggle. The film scene that is still etched in my memory is when Gandhi is fasting to protest against the violence of the Muslims & Hindus killing each other. A distressed Hindu man arrives with food and then subsequently confesses to Gandhi that he killed a Muslim boy in retaliation for his son being killed by the Muslims. Gandhi sees the Hindu mans grief/remorse and suggests that he adopts a Muslim boy whose parents have been killed and raises him as a Muslim not Hindu. The moral was that the true test of redemption was to learn to love his ‘enemy’, and that did not have to mean forsaking his own religion, but to lose his hatred and become an understanding, tolerant Hindu – such a thought provoking scene.

Once the film had finished, I recall tears coming from my dad’s eyes, in fact it’s one of the few times that I’ve ever seen him cry. For him the film was poignant, as he was a Muslim born in India and was a small child during the partition. He remembers walking for days at a time without food, being separated from his parents (not knowing whether they were dead or alive), seeing dead bodies along his journey, wondering whether he would survive, and after all that having to start all over again in the newly formed Pakistan.

After failing to find the old video, I decided to buy the DVD from Amazon, because this is such a wonderful historical film that engages viewers to appreciate the complexities of mankind, and what a difference one person can make. The film won 8 Oscars and was number 34 in The British Film Institutes top 100 favourite British films of the 20th Century. The acting is superb, particularly Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Gandhi. My dad rates this as one of his favourite films, even if it does make him cry!

I now understand why my dad made me first watch this film all those years ago. One of Gandhi’s quotes succinctly sums this up (he was speaking of the conflict between Hindus and Muslims):

“Religions are different roads converging to the same point. What does it matter that we take a different road, so long as we reach the same goal. Wherein is the cause for quarreling?”

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1 Comment»

  umeshpatil wrote @

Very nice post..! 🙂


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