"Why do we need a fake Gandhi to portray the Mahatma"

Friday, August 29, 2014 - 17:15

The News Minute| August 26, 2014| 4.48 pm IST|

British filmmaker Richard Attenborough did not have it easy when he needed permission to shoot scenes of epic movie ‘Gandhi’ at the famous Aga Khan palace in Pune with objection to shooting coming from former Prime Minister Morarji Desai.

Shobhana Ranade, the then secretary of Gandhi National Memorial Society (GNMS) trust, caretaker of the Aga Khan palace premises, said a PTI report , "Former Prime Minister Morarji Desai, a known Gandhian, was chairman of GNMS when Attenborough's unit sought permission to shoot in the precincts of the palace which also has a 'samadhi' of Kasturba (wife of Mahatma Gandhi) who spent her last days there."

"Why do we need a 'nakli' (fake) Gandhi to portray the Mahatma," he was quoted as saying by the 90-year-old Ranade, explaining Morarji's objection to the idea of a Britisher (Ben Kingsley) playing Gandhi.

When he was finally given permission strict instructions were given to avoid consumption of alcohol and non-vegetarian food on the premises as the trustees had a zero tolerance policy towards it.

Ranade went on to recollect a time when Attenborough made Ben Kinsley redo a scene atleast 50 times just because Ben Kinsley, who portrayed Gandhi , couldn’t climb up stairs with the “correct gait of a Kathewadi Gujarati”.

Actress Rohini Hattangadi, who played Kasturba’s role in 'Gandhi', said to PTI , "I was supposed to look frail during the last days leading to Kasturba's death. I was young when the film was shot (during 1981-82) and Sir Richard asked me to do dieting to get slimmer. I did as I was told, overcoming my pangs of hunger to get the results.

He won the 1982 Oscar Best Picture for ‘Gandhi’ but gained more recognition after his role in Jurassic Park. He passed away on Sunday, a few days before his 91st birthday.

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.