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Gandhi is a 1982 biographical film based on the life of Mohandas Gandhi, who led the nonviolent resistance movement against British colonial rule in Indiamarker during the first half of the 20th century. The film was directed by Richard Attenborough and stars Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. They both won Academy Awards for their work on the film. The film was also given the Academy Award for Best Picture and won eight Academy Awards in total.

It was an international co-production between production companies in Indiamarker and the UKmarker. The film premiered in New Delhimarker on 30 November 1982.


The film opens with a statement from the filmmakers explaining their approach to the problem of filming Gandhi's complex life story:

The film begins with Gandhi's assassination on 30 January 1948, and his funeral. After an evening prayer, an elderly Gandhi is helped out for his evening walk to meet a large number of greeters and admirers. One of these visitors - Nathuram Godse - shoots him point blank in the chest. Gandhi exclaims, "Oh, God!" ("Hē Ram!" historically), and then falls dead. The film then cuts to a huge procession at his funeral, which is attended by dignitaries from around the world.

The early life of Gandhi is not depicted in the film. Instead, the story flashes back 55 years to a life-changing event: in 1893, Gandhi is thrown off a South Africa train for being an Indian. He then decides to start a non-violent protest campaign for the rights of all Indians in South Africa. After numerous arrests and garnering the unwanted attention of the world, the government finally relents by recognizing rights for Indians, though not for the native blacks of South Africa.

After this victory, Gandhi is invited back to India, where he is now considered something of a national hero. He is urged to take up the fight for India's independence from the British Empire. Gandhi agrees, and mounts a non-violent non-cooperation campaign of unprecedented scale, coordinating millions of Indians nationwide. There are some setbacks, such as violence against the protesters and Gandhi's occasional imprisonment.

Nevertheless, the campaign generates great attention, and Britain faces intense public pressure. Too weak from World War II to continue enforcing its will in India, Britain finally grants India's independence. Indians celebrate this victory, but their troubles are far from over. Religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims erupt into nation-wide violence. Gandhi declares a hunger strike, saying he will not eat until the fighting stops.

The fighting does stop eventually, but the country is divided by religion. It is decided that the northwest area of India, and eastern part of India (current day Bangladeshmarker), both places where Muslims are in the majority, will become a new country called Pakistanmarker (West and East Pakistan respectively). It is hoped that by encouraging the Muslims to live in a separate country, violence will abate. Gandhi is opposed to the idea, and is even willing to allow Muhammad Ali Jinnah to become the first prime minister of India, but the Partition of India is carried out nevertheless.

Gandhi spends his last days trying to bring about peace between both nations. He thereby angers many dissidents on both sides, one of whom finally gets close enough to assassinate him in a scene at the end of the film that recalls the opening.

As Godse shoots Gandhi, the film fades to black and Gandhi is heard in a voiceover, saying "Oh God". The audience then sees Gandhi's cremation; the film ending with a scene of Gandhi's ashes being scattered on the holy Ganga. As this happens, we hear Gandhi in another voiceover:

As the list of actors is seen at the end, the hymn "Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram" is heard.


Shooting began on 26 November 1980 and ended on 10 May 1981. Approximately 400,000 extras were used in the funeral scene, the most for any film according to Guinness World Records.


During pre-production, there was much speculation as to who would play the role of Gandhi. The choice was Ben Kingsley who is partly of Indian heritage (his father was Gujarati and his birth name is Krishna Bhanji). Casting director for the film was Dolly Thakore, an Indian theatre actress who later went on to be casting director in several British Indian films.

Awards and honors

Gandhi received eight Academy Awards:
Award Won Nomination Winner
Best Picture Richard Attenborough
Best Director Richard Attenborough
Best Actor Ben Kingsley
Best Screenplay, Written Directly for the Screen John Briley
Best Art Direction Stuart Craig
Robert W.

Michael Seirton

Best Cinematography Billy Williams
Ronnie Taylor
Best Costume Design Bhanu Athaiya
Madeline Jones
John Mollo

Best Film Editing John Bloom
Best Makeup Tom Smith
Winner was Sarah Monzani & Michele Burke – Quest for Fire
Best, Music Score Ravi Shankar and George Fenton
Winner was John WilliamsET
Best Sound Gerry Humphreys, Robin O'Donoghue, Jonathan Bates, Simon Kaye
Winner was Robert Knudson, Robert Glass, Don Digirolamo, Gene Cantamessa – E.T.

Gandhi won five BAFTAs at the British Academy Film Awards in 1983 including two awards for both Richard Attenborough and Ben Kingsley. The film also won Best Picture from National Board of Review as well as six Golden Globes including Best Foreign Film.


American Film Institute recognition


This film had been Richard Attenborough's dream project, although two previous attempts at filming had been attempted and failed. In 1952, Gabriel Pascal secured an agreement with the Prime Minister of India (Pandit Nehru) to produce a film of Gandhi's life. However, Pascal died in 1954 before preparations were completed. Later David Lean and Sam Spiegel planned to make a film about Gandhi after completing The Bridge on the River Kwaimarker (1957), reportedly with Alec Guinness as Gandhi. Ultimately, the project was abandoned in favour of Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

Critical response

Reviews were broadly positive. Many years later the movie received an 85% "fresh" rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Ben Kingsley's performance was especially praised. Historian Lawrence James was one of the few who took a more negative view of the film.

See also


  1. Rotten Tomatoes: Gandhi

External links

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