The portrayal of Gandhi on screen has varied over the years. With filmmakers trying to delve into a plethora of perspectives, audience in India and worldwide has seen several shades of the Mahatma. However, a little digging into the past reveals that Gandhi and cinema were poles apart, yet turned out to be a match made in heaven.
The first motion pictures of Gandhi were but obviously obtained through newsreel that would play in theatres before a feature, similar to how National Anthem is played now. Thanks to YouTube, there’s a silent video of Gandhi from 1922, showing him addressing an assembly.
In April 1931, an American newsreel company Fox Movietone’s team travelled to Borsad village to interview Gandhi. In the interview he can be seen telling the crew, “I do not like this kind of thing, but I shall reconcile myself to it”. The video features him briefly speak on issues like ban on child marriage, India’s freedom etc.
“He speaks in a subdued voice, which is just audible when the theatre is absolutely still, as it was yesterday”, The New York Times had reported back then.
As decades have gone by, we have seen Gandhi essayed by Ben Kingsley to J.S. Casshyap, and in the recent years actors like Annu Kapoor in Sardar, Naseeruddin Shah in Hey Ram!, and Darshan Jariwala Gandhi, My Father, have done justice to depict the Father of Nation on screen.