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Interviews

Gandhi's great grandson pleased with Hirani's Gandhigiri

Rajkumar Hirani's "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" was profusely applauded by both audiences and critics, and Mahatma Gandhi's great grandson Tushar Gandhi is equally proud of the film, which he says has introduced the new generation to Bapu and his ideology.

"For today's generation Bapu would've been a forgotten factor if he didn't have his photographs on currency notes. More than Bapu, this film shows the power of satyagraha. Many people thought it was possible only during British rule," Tushar told IANS in an interview.

This Gandhi scion also feels that Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades" epitomizes Gandhi's values. "Unfortunately, it didn't get the box office success it deserved. It should've been less sermonising and more humorous. I told Gowariker that "Swades" should be shown in every educational institution."

Commenting upon Anil Kapoor's "Mahatma Versus Gandhi", about the tensed relationship between Bapu and his son Harilal, Tushar said: "It's a very tragic episode in the life of Bapu and the family. But nevertheless authentic. Such humanisation is important."

Excerpts:

Q: What do you feel about the revival of Gandhism through a film like "Lage Raho Munna Bhai"?

A: These are very timely and appropriate works. I'd also like to include Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades". The film epitomises Gandhi's values. Unfortunately, it was like a documentary. It didn't get the box office success it deserved. It should've been less sermonising, more humorous. I told Gowariker that "Swades" should be shown in every educational institution.

Q: What did you think of the way Mahatma Gandhi has been portrayed in "Lage Raho Munna Bhai"?

A: It's almost as if a new generation has discovered Bapu. For today's generation Bapu would've been a forgotten factor if he didn't have his photographs on currency notes. More than Bapu, this film shows the power of satyagraha. Many people thought it was possible only during British rule.

Q: Do you think turning the other cheek is a good option in these times?

A: Not when you're dealing with global terrorism. But in normal day-to-day living I think satyagraha still works. See how much violence has grown in our lives. For society dealing internally with strife, non-violence is a viable option. Let me point out here that even Bapu knew the limits of satyagraha.

When aggression happened in Kashmir Bapu didn't go on his fast-unto-death. Instead, he endorsed the military attack as the dharma of army. Satyagraha wasn't a dogma for him. Otherwise Bapu wouldn't have condoned socialist violence during the Quit India movement. He agreed violence and counter-violence were equally relevant.

But does violence today yield any positive results? Finally United States President George W. Bush's war on terrorism is getting us nowhere. Even the annihilation of Lebanon hasn't made Israel any safer.

Q: What do you think of Raj Kumar Hirani's "Gandhigiri"?

A: It's a welcome coinage. People today can identify with it more than other terms like Gandhism and Gandhi-vaad. These were too elitist and only the senior generation could relate to them. Gandhigiri is identifiable by the common man. And that's the language Bapu always spoke. I think Bapu would've spoken the language of Gandhigiri if he were alive today. I really feel this film says something that needs to be told.

Anything that promotes Bapu is very dear to me. My entire existence is dependent on Bapu's ideas. In a very selfish way I'm very pleased with Raju Hirani's Gandhigiri. And I was zapped by Sanjay Dutt's performance. What a long way he has come as an actor.

Q: Are you a movie buff?

A: I love movies but not the elitist kind. I love films like "The Terminator" (laughs). I like films showing Rajnikanth beating up a dozen goons. I keep telling my wife that all my pent-up violence is vented while watching action movies. Once in a while I like movies that make me think.

I was laughing throughout "Lage Raho Munna Bhai". But because of the theme, I was continuously scanning the audience for their reaction. I think Sanjay and Arshad Warsi were even better in this than in "Munnabhai M.B.B.S.".

Q: What do you think of the next Gandhi film "Mahatma Versus Gandhi" (produced by Anil Kapoor) which will go into the troubled relationship between Gandhiji and his son?

A: Yes, Bapu and Harilal Kaka. It's a very tragic episode in the life of Bapu and the family. But nevertheless authentic. Such humanisation is important. Bapu's personality is like an onion. You go into layers and layers and you discover more about him. I, for one, am not comfortable with the deification of Bapu. I want him to be more human, so he can be more inspirational. Let people see him in all his facets, as a man who overcame all his failings.

In 'Lage Raho...' there's a poignant dialogue where Bapu wants people to enshrine him in their hearts. In the past 60 years Bapu has been reduced to a subject for an elitist club. It's a crime to imprison Bapu as being elitist. Don't abuse him, but please criticise Bapu constructively.

Q: What did you think of Richard Attenborough's "Gandhi"?

A: It did justice to the personality. Raju Hirani has done justice to his philosophy. Attenborough's film proved inspirational all over the world. This 7/11 there will be many screenings of Attenborough's film in American universities. Ben Kingsley did a good job of playing Bapu. However, I thought Bapu had been portrayed as fickle in Raj Kumar Santoshi's "The Legend Of Bhagat Singh". But my favourite Gandhi was Atul Kulkarni in the stage play "Gandhi Virudh Gandhi". He caught on to the essence of Bapu.

Q: What did you think of "Rang De Basanti"?

A: Though I liked the film the conclusion was inapplicable and problematic. It just offered an emotional eruption. The parallels between the freedom fighters and today's youth were interesting but inaccurate. I appreciated the parallels between history and contemporary times. I thought it was a technically brilliant film.

Q: So, are you saying it trivialised history?

A: I'd say so.


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