Gandhi the most prominent historical figure and most preferred character to be played onscreen

Gandhi the most prominent historical figure and most preferred character to be played onscreen
Gandhi the most prominent historical figure and most preferred character to be played onscreen

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi has always been the subject of a film or prominently featured as a historical character in one. No other historical character could have managed to get much attention, besides Bhagat Singh and Jawaharlal Nehru.

It is definitely not surprising because no other contemporary historical character had made such an influence on the world as Gandhi did. Supplemented with books and documentaries to fully-fledged feature films, Gandhi had always been the biggest influential character.

When it comes to film, the first name that hit the mind playing Gandhi’s character is British actor Sir Ben Kingsley, who was featured in late Richard Attenborough’s film, called “Gandhi”. A compelling performance was delivered by him that the closest people may imagine the real man. In Bollywood films, the character of Bapu from Dilip Prabhalkar’s Lage Raho Munna Bhai is also appreciated by the audience.

On his 150th birth anniversary let’s have a look at the actors who played Gandhi’s character onscreen

Sir Ben Kingsley (Gandhi)

This is an Indo-British film that won multiple Oscar and Doordarshan would air it often whether it is Independence Day or Gandhi Jayanti. The film was directed by Richard Attenborough and it chronicles Gandhi’s life from his days in South Africa by his non-violent, non-cooperation movement against the British Raj, India’s partition right up to his assassination in 1948. It is difficult to express Ben Kingsley’s performance in words; in short, he excelled as Gandhi. The mannerisms and ways of the Mahatmawere copied by him and moreover Gandhi’s philosophy has been internalized by the British actor that makes his performance so riveting.

Naseeruddin Shah (Hey Ram)

The historical fiction of Kamal Haasan that deals with Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and the story are based upon a character called Saket Ram, played by Kamal Haasan, who is narrating his life story from the 1940s and shows his hatred for Gandhi, who is being held responsible for his wife’s death Muslim mobs. He wanted to kill Gandhi but came across Gandhi’s teachings and changed from the heart. Mahatma’s character was portrayed by Naseeruddin Shah though the character of Saket Ram was the center of attraction.

Dilip Prabhakar (Lage Raho Munna Bhai)

In this film, Gandhi’s character can be considered as the apostle of peace who guides a local fathead to goodness and love in a heart-warming manner. Munna Bhai is being played by Sanjay Dutt, who holds a small-time extortion business, and while preparing for a quiz on the radio he met Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in a library and Mahatma sensed that the extra hours are for impressing Munna’s love, the radio jockey, played by Vidya Balan. Help is being offered by the Mahatma if Munna agrees to follow his instructions. The crazy adventure begins with that full of twists and turns. In this film, the character of Gandhi was affable which is played confidently by the Marathi actor Dilip Prabhakar.

Rajit Kapur (The Making of the Mahatma)

Most depictions portray the Mahatma phase of Gandhi while the veteran film director Shyam Benegal attempted the early life of Mahatma Gandhi, the young stage of Gandhi. The film is sourced from the book ‘The apprenticeship of a Mahatma’ by Fatima Meer that holds 21 years of his life in South Africa. Actor Rajit Kapur played the character of young Gandhi which portrays an uncanny resemblance.

Darshan Jariwala (Gandhi, My Father) 

It was another good film on Gandhi which is focused on the troubled relationship between the Mahatma and his elder son, Harilal. Feroz Abbas Khan did the direction and it was produced by Anil Kapoor. Popular character actor and ad films artist Darshan Jariwala played Gandhi and Harilal was played by Akshaye Khanna. It was sourced from Harilal Gandhi’s biography called “Harilal Gandhi: A Life by Chandulal Bhagubhai Dalal. 

Annu Kapoor (Sardar)

The film was directed by Ketan Mehta, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, the iron man of India was portrayed by Paresh Rawal and Annu Kapoor played as Mahatma. Though the story was focused on Patel, no narration on the time and life of Patel can be completed without mentioning Gandhi and Nehru. These three most important persons together made the troika of the Indian National Congress that will steer the ship called India through hard times.


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