Gandhi, My Father - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Gandhi, My Father Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2011
The film is about the life of Harilal Gandhi, a son whose tragedy was to live with in the shadow of a man who was father not just to him, but to a whole nation.

In it's attempt to preserve the iconic figure of Mahatma Gandhi, it feels like the film failed to capture the real emotions and struggle between a father and son. Although we do get to see a different side of Gandhi which was never attempted in any movie adaptations before.
Shefali Shah and towards the later parts of movie, as the older familiar version of Gandhi, Darshan Jariwala too excells in their role.

This was a story which had to be told, and considering the magnitude of this movie, certain minor glitches can be forgiven.
PantaOz
Super Reviewer
½ February 8, 2011
This Indian film by Feroz Abbas Khan explores the troubled relationship between Harilal Gandhi (Akshaye Khanna) and his father, Mahatma Gandhi in somehow neutral way, while shedding light onto Gandhi the person! Father and son with dreams directed in opposite directions are often in a conflict even when fighting side by side for their ideals and causes.

I watched this movie because of the screenplay which was something exceptional, petty that the director managed to take the really good screenplay and make such a mediocre movie! The screenplay won the 2007 Asia Pacific Screen Award and that should be the only thing remembered... everything else was just average or below average. Don't waste over two hours if you have anything better to do!
Dracula787
Super Reviewer
March 2, 2009
I always liked Richard Attenborough?s biopic about the life of Mohandas Gandhi, but I never loved it. It was a highly conventional film which ignored the complexities of history in favor of a wildly reverential look at its subject. Another problem I had with it was that it seemed odd to see British filmmakers taking it upon themselves to chronicle another countries hero for them. That?s why I was very interested to see what a movie about Gandhi made for and by Indians would be like. While the film is not a complete failure, it does give me a newfound respect Attenborough?s decision, because the Bollywood film style kind of proves itself incapable of the level of realist filmmaking that this story requires. There just seems to be something in the very blood of how this industry makes movies that leans toward artificiality and melodrama.

The film does not focus on Gandhi?s anti-colonial campaign or his politics in general, rather it is meant to be a look at his personal life, particularly in regards to his son Harilal Gandhi who strayed from the advice of his father and was often in the middle of fraud, and other unscrupulous activities. Gandhi himself is portrayed as an unsympathetic father who was often downright cold in his tough love approach.

The film?s biggest problem is Akshaye Khanna, who plays Harilal. His performance reminded me of an anecdote Danny Boyle told about casting the role of Jamal in Slumdog Millionaire. Boyle explained that he was forced to go outside of India in the casting for the simple reason that every male actor in India looked like a buff dancer rather than a real common person, and I think this is the casting problem that the filmmakers faced here. Akshaye Khanna seems very miscast, he doesn?t look like his father or anyone else likely to be in his situation in the 20s and 30s. His hair is always perfectly styled and he shows no sign of wear on his face. The situation is complicated further by the fact that he is well over 30, but still plays Harilal in scenes where he?s supposed to be about eighteen and looks way too old. Darshan Jariwala fares a little better in the role of Gandhi, but unfortunately he has a distractingly weird shaped head that?s on full display when he?s bald, this is a shallow complaint but it?s distracting nonetheless. Ben Kingsley will not be wanting of work any time soon.

The rest of the film basically suffers from its indecisiveness as to whether or not Gandhi is a jerk or not. I can see why they?d hesitate to depict him in a negative light, but the whole thing just comes off as soft and indecisive. Harilal himself is a generally frustrating character as he zig zags between whether or not he wants to get his act together, one scene he?s finally doing all right, the next back to being a disgrace.

The film generally does a good job at focusing on it?s subject, the personal life of the Gandhi family, until the last half hour when the film when frustratingly it quits focusing on Harilal and begins recounting the politics of Gandhi which it had smartly ignored throughout the rest of the film. This brings the central story to a screeching halt and the rest of the film just seems like a second rate version off the Attenborough film. This is not a horrible movie, but it is one that doesn?t know what it wants to be and which fails as a work of realist filmmaking. A nice curiosity, but nothing more.
October 29, 2009
While reading a collection of Gandhi's writings I came upon a mention of his son having converted to Islam. I was very surprised since Attenborough's film had completely skipped over any children and so I couldn't wait to see this film when I learned of it. I was expecting them to have had some sort of violent, acrimonious parting, but that doesn't really seem to have been the case. The story is an old one though; very successful Dad expects son to go into the family business but son wants to do something else and this inevitably drives a wedge between them. The main difference is that here the son wants to be what his Dad USED to be (namely a Barrister) and Dad's new business is Self-Sacrificing Servant of the People. The son (Harilal) follows obediently through the early years in South Africa, all the while quietly harboring a small grudge because others are given what he feels should be his, but he never gives up his dreams of accomplishing something big and impressing Dad--never realizing what it would really take to do that. Its a sad story of a father and mother whose arms are always open to welcome back a son who just can't stay out of trouble and uses the family name to steal money from others. Its also the story of how a great man can be a father to millions who have never seen him, but can't really connect with a child born of his own blood. My one problem with the film was the casting. So much depended on Akshaye Khanna as Harilal, and to me he was inadequate. He had one expression that resembled nothing so much as cocker spaniel that has just been caught urinating on the carpet. However Shefali Shah as Hari's mother is truly the shining star in this film. Her suffering as she tries to hold her family together is poignant and resonates with all audiences.
August 7, 2015
A great movie I don't know what the nuthhead critics were thinking
September 21, 2013
If someone really wants to what Gandhi's eldest son "Harilal" and his wife "Kasturba" had to sacrifice for his principles. This film explores the strained father-son relationship where Harilal not only had to sacrifice his dreams but infact he had to forfeit even his identity and Kasturba was emotionally torn between.

The film sincerely digs into all the incidents of Gandhi's family which forced Harilal's family to face many odds with no recognition as being The Father of Nation's son.
A must watch movie for all those who are unaware about Gandhi's descendants!
March 28, 2013
A very good performance by Akshaye Khanna in a very complex portrayal of Gandhi's son. Good direction and editing too.A story not many will know and hence it is all the more interesting. Maybe a few lessons for all of us to learn from. It should have had much more success than it seems to have got.
½ January 19, 2012
The film is about the life of Harilal Gandhi, a son whose tragedy was to live with in the shadow of a man who was father not just to him, but to a whole nation.

In it's attempt to preserve the iconic figure of Mahatma Gandhi, it feels like the film failed to capture the real emotions and struggle between a father and son. Although we do get to see a different side of Gandhi which was never attempted in any movie adaptations before.
Shefali Shah and towards the later parts of movie, as the older familiar version of Gandhi, Darshan Jariwala too excells in their role.

This was a story which had to be told, and considering the magnitude of this movie, certain minor glitches can be forgiven.
July 22, 2011
The notion that Gandhi managed to save the soul of a nation, but failed to save the soul of his own son is attention-grabbing, and this is particularly due to the lack of exposure their troubled association has had.But somehow the performances and the screenplay fail to grip and elevate this from an average to an exceptional piece of cinema.
PantaOz
Super Reviewer
½ February 8, 2011
This Indian film by Feroz Abbas Khan explores the troubled relationship between Harilal Gandhi (Akshaye Khanna) and his father, Mahatma Gandhi in somehow neutral way, while shedding light onto Gandhi the person! Father and son with dreams directed in opposite directions are often in a conflict even when fighting side by side for their ideals and causes.

I watched this movie because of the screenplay which was something exceptional, petty that the director managed to take the really good screenplay and make such a mediocre movie! The screenplay won the 2007 Asia Pacific Screen Award and that should be the only thing remembered... everything else was just average or below average. Don't waste over two hours if you have anything better to do!
Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2011
The film is about the life of Harilal Gandhi, a son whose tragedy was to live with in the shadow of a man who was father not just to him, but to a whole nation.

In it's attempt to preserve the iconic figure of Mahatma Gandhi, it feels like the film failed to capture the real emotions and struggle between a father and son. Although we do get to see a different side of Gandhi which was never attempted in any movie adaptations before.
Shefali Shah and towards the later parts of movie, as the older familiar version of Gandhi, Darshan Jariwala too excells in their role.

This was a story which had to be told, and considering the magnitude of this movie, certain minor glitches can be forgiven.
½ December 4, 2010
A very sad film about how a son is sacrificed to his father's curious world view.
The film seems to suggest that Gandhi-ji mellows as he gets older but one wonders.
WQorth a watch
October 27, 2010
He wasn't the saint he's portrayed as, as who should know better than his kid (I guess his wife, actually, as he had a thing for sleeping with little girls.)
½ May 31, 2010
Akshay khanna's best performance. This is a classic. alas it catered only to a small audience. this is not about gandhi. but a about a man and his relationship with his father.
October 29, 2009
While reading a collection of Gandhi's writings I came upon a mention of his son having converted to Islam. I was very surprised since Attenborough's film had completely skipped over any children and so I couldn't wait to see this film when I learned of it. I was expecting them to have had some sort of violent, acrimonious parting, but that doesn't really seem to have been the case. The story is an old one though; very successful Dad expects son to go into the family business but son wants to do something else and this inevitably drives a wedge between them. The main difference is that here the son wants to be what his Dad USED to be (namely a Barrister) and Dad's new business is Self-Sacrificing Servant of the People. The son (Harilal) follows obediently through the early years in South Africa, all the while quietly harboring a small grudge because others are given what he feels should be his, but he never gives up his dreams of accomplishing something big and impressing Dad--never realizing what it would really take to do that. Its a sad story of a father and mother whose arms are always open to welcome back a son who just can't stay out of trouble and uses the family name to steal money from others. Its also the story of how a great man can be a father to millions who have never seen him, but can't really connect with a child born of his own blood. My one problem with the film was the casting. So much depended on Akshaye Khanna as Harilal, and to me he was inadequate. He had one expression that resembled nothing so much as cocker spaniel that has just been caught urinating on the carpet. However Shefali Shah as Hari's mother is truly the shining star in this film. Her suffering as she tries to hold her family together is poignant and resonates with all audiences.
May 7, 2009
It's an amazing movie. An eye-opening movie. A must watch.
May 4, 2009
the misery of being the son of a father of the nation... brilliant performance by akshye khanna
½ March 28, 2009
I was pleasantly surprised and deeply touched by this Indian film with the intriguing title "Gandhi My Father" - a concept most of us outside India had probably never considered, namely that the famous freedom fighter and social reformer who changed the course of India's history was also a family man and father, struggling with personal issues like everyone else. Or maybe not like everyone else, because it soon becomes apparent that Gandhi's eldest son, Harilal, cannot live up to his father's high expectations and perhaps like many children of successful or famous people, flounders in the shadow of his larger-than-life father who became the nation's idol. Revered as the Father of a Nation whom Indians affectionately called "Bapu" meaning Dad, Gandhi gave his life and soul for the freedom and happiness of his people, but could not prevent his own son from succumbing to alcoholism and dying alone in a Bombay hospital as an dirty, unknown, drunken beggar. This film very effectively covers 40 years in just two hours, capturing the highlights and critical moments which changed the course of Harilal's life, leading to its tragic end. It is very reminiscent of the multi-award-winning "Gandhi" starring Ben Kingsley, and can be seen as a companion to this film as it explores the personal side of Gandhi's life far removed from the tumultuous political and social events, yet irrevocably intertwined with them because every step Gandhi took to reform and help his nation was a step further away from his son.

From the outset of the film we get to know Gandhi as a man of very high moral and spiritual principles who firmly and passionately adheres to them both in family life, in his work as a lawyer, and of course later, as India's spiritual and moral leader. And spare a thought for Gandhi's faithful wife who struggled to find a balance between supporting Gandhi's important, self-sacrificing ambitions for the good of all, and the wellbeing and happiness of the family and children. There are many thought-provoking concepts and issues to ponder over and to question as the film touches briefly yet poignantly on the most relevant and deepest matters affecting the family's life. The film does not take sides or judge or condemn anyone, and tells the story of people living through tumultuous decades in a very beautiful and artistic style with brilliant photography, soft colours and soft lighting. It is authentically Indian with quite traditional music, but no song and dance scenes which are the trademark of most `Bollywood' films. This is not such a popular or commercial movie, but a serious and artistic film with as much meaning and depth as the viewer cares to take from it. To underscore the historic significance of the story, authentic newsreel footage is used briefly a few times in this film which heightens the emotional intensity of the story, particularly as it reaches its climax. For a perfect balance of serious history and artistic excellence, "Gandhi My Father" is a special viewing experience, and will linger on in one's memory long afterwards.
½ August 13, 2007
I had this set as "want to see" for a year and a half now, when I had already seen it. This movie was definitely slow, no doubt about that. But more important was the message that it sent out - nobody is perfect, not even those that we put on a pedestal and think to be so. I loved seeing a more gray aspect of Gandhi's life, that being his relationship with his son. While Darshan Jhariwala does a great job as Gandhi, Shefali holds her own in her role and the supporting cast is good, the real star of the film is Akshaye Khanna, who is absolutely brillilant as Harilal Gandhi. I was so proud of how well he acted - and so upset that such a great film didn't do well at the box office.
March 12, 2009
Life of Gandhi from a very different perspective!!
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