Utpal Borpujari

January 30, 2010

Bapu’s great grandson in film reflecting Gandhigiri

By Utpal Borpujari

There have been numerous films on the life and ideology of Mahatma Gandhi, but now one can see a member of his family in a film that directly relates to the his philosophy.

Tushar Gandhi, author and the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, appears in Road to Sangam, which is releasing this Friday and very appropriately stresses on the importance and relevance of Gandhian ideology in the present times.

It’s not a big role that Gandhi is enacting. In fact, he is playing himself, appearing towards the end of the film which has a story highlighting how Bapu’s thought process is getting damaged in the communally-vitiated societies of today.

This is the second time that Gandhi will appear on the big screen. He had made a brief appearance in Kamal Hasan’s Hey Ram! earlier, and while even this role is brief, here he has the satisfaction of being seen to be carrying an urn containing Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes for immersion at the Sangam in Allahabad.

The film’s story focuses on a Muslim car mechanic who repairs the engine of the original car that had carried Gandhi’s ashes to Sangam in Allahabad, and how he finishes his task despite communal tension in the city.

The story, inspired by a real life incident of an urn containing Gandhi’s ashes found in a State Bank of India locker in Orissa, shows that despite the situation, peace-loving people manage to carry Gandhi’s ashes to Sangam, where they are immersed in the holy waters by Tushar Gandhi.

“The story has been narrated beautifully by first-time writer-director Amit Rai, mixing reality and fiction very convincingly. Since it promotes the principles of Mahatma Gandhi in the current perspective, I agreed to be part of the film,” says Tushar Gandhi.

“It has been a different experience,” says Gandhi about acting in the film that stars Paresh Rawal, Om Puri and Pavan Malhotra. The film has been screened at quite a few festivals, earning appreciation everywhere and winning awards at MAMI in Mumbai, Hamburg, South Africa and Los Angeles festivals. It was also shown in the market section of the last Cannes Film Festival.

“Since the film highlights the relevance of Gandhiji’s ideals in the present context, I requested Tushar Gandhi to make an appearance in the film, and he readily agreed,” says Rai. “It is my tribute to the values and principles that Gandhiji espoused during his lifetime,” says Rai.

Rawal plays Hashmat Ullah, who is  entrusted with the job of repairing the engine of an old V8 Ford kept in Allahabad Museum, unaware that it was once used to carry ashes of Mahatma Gandhi.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 29-01-2010)



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