For most Americans, especially Spielberg fans, Gandhi is simply the movie that beat E.T. to win the Oscar for Best Picture. For many of us in India, this is one of the best-known movies about the man and one we grew up with. Pretty much every year, on October 2 and/or January 30, Doordarshan used to telecast it. And I loved the movie so much that I never tired of watching it for many years. I still enjoy watching it every once in a while.
We grow up reading about him in our textbooks. Much of it is a sanitized, almost-deified version of his life story. Then we begin to hear a few discordant voices, especially from those who believe that Nathuram Godse’s reasons for killing him deserve to be heard. Maybe at some point we come to the conclusion that he did make a few mistakes. Big mistakes, even. But all said and done, his achievement is undeniable, nor is the stature he attained.
The scene that exemplifies this best comes around the two-thirds mark in Gandhi, at a courtroom where Gandhi is due to be tried. The courtroom is full, the judge, lawyers and audience all present. Gandhi is brought in. And all of them, including the judge himself, stand up.
I don’t know if this actually happened. Truth be told, I don’t want to know.