Gandhi Reloaded

71 Comments

Boyfriend become boring? Well now you can dump him and feel good by invoking the Mahatma. Just like Shweta Polanki who cited “Gandhigiri” as the reason she broke off with her boyfriend after he made “hissing sounds to get the attention of the waiter”. Murderer and extortionist on the way to trial, looking to get some media attention? No problemo. Hand out roses in a Lucknow courthouse ala Babloo Srivastava. [More here]

If it was the Rang-de-Basanti-inspired “be the change” in early 2006 that captured the imagination of the nation, the last quarter has seen the the Return of Bapu—courtesy “Lage Raho Munnabhai”, a predictable yet pleasant movie about a Don who reforms himself after being visited by the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi.

The original Mahatma Gandhi, the master communicator, had to don a langoti and speak the language of religion and poverty to make a connection with India’s teeming population and launch the greatest mass mobilization in modern history. The new bubble-wrapped Mahtama of Bollywood has a new challenge—to work his magic on the outsourced generation of today and rake in a few bucks for the producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Because the secret of today’s blockbuster is to give the audience an illusion of intellectual nourishment while feeding him the same old escapist fare—so that when he walks out from the multiplex he has a “feel good rush” and a desire to “change the world”–a desire that if we are lucky will last for a week.

For Gandhi is the ultimate feel-good-man—nothing makes the new generation feel better about themselves than acting “Gandhian”. But there is always a problem—everything Bapu has asked us to do is so god-damn tough and boring. Like shovelling your own shit….that is so not cool. Also the “sex is a pathway to violent animal tendencies” idea —-nyet nyet. The ‘go back to the villages’ whole anti-industrialization angle—you mean no cell phones and IPods? And that ‘spin your own cloth’ Gandhian principle—-dude are you crazy? Do you want me to be a fashion disaster like Karishma Kapoor in her first movie? Puleeze.

So here’s an idea.

Get rid of the facets of Gandhi-ism that are uncomfortable or sound way too tough or too 1940-s. Let’s get Bapu to talk Tapori. Let’s make him a gentle Agony Uncle who guarantees the sure way to get the girl. There might not be a lot of the original Gandhi left in this new Gandhi but hey that’s not our problem. The thing is to make people think they are having a karele ka juice that tastes sweet. Let’s put in a few simple, contrived situations. Add some “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” homilies and voilà, we have a product—easily palatable, leaving a warm, fuzzy afterglow.

But wait. On second thoughts—- is this new-age, sanitized Gandhi altogether a bad thing? A commercial construct– sure is. But perhaps this filtering out of the parts of Gandhiism that are impractical, utopian and plain anachronistic is the only way to keep Gandhi-ism relevant today. By making his ideals easier to follow. By serving up what he stood for in bite-sized portions.

While most “neo-Gandhibaadis” who were “Rang-de-Basantists’ a few months ago will soon migrate to other things, we hope that there will be a few people who, like Sanjay Dutt in “Lage Raho Munnabhai”, will ensconce themselves in a library where, through knowledge gleaned from books (as opposed to a two hour movie or email forwards) objectively evaluate, free of idolatory and iconcoclasm ——- Gandhi the person. Gandhi the politician. And Gandhi the personal saviour.

And through this path of enlightenment, triggered by ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ but not limited by it, each of us shall realize Bapu in our own way.

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71 thoughts on “Gandhi Reloaded

  1. Agree with your second thought. It is because this kind of filtering out the impractical and utopian parts had not been done that Gandhi had become irrelevant. Kudos to Hirani for extracting the essence of Gandhism and delivering it in a consumable way. Sure, we will continue on our industrialized, consumerist way of living, but if we can carry a little bit of Gandhian values while doing so, it is still better than having none of it. For every Babloo Srivastava making use of Gandhigiri, there are also heart-warming stories like this.

    I have seen this work in my own home. A few days after we had seen this movie, my 8 year old daughter was supposed to take some thing (a wrist band or something) to school, but she couldn’t find it when she was getting ready to go to school. She was getting tense, as the teacher had insisted that everyone should bring it that day. When she couldn’t find it anywhere, she started wondering what to tell the teacher. Then she remembered the movie and said, “No, I will tell the truth that my mother had bought it but I kept it somewhere. If the teacher scolds me for being negligent, that’s fine. I will learn from it”. However, she found the band in her bag just then, so she didn’t have a chance to implement this.

    She also pulled out Gandhi’s biography from my book shelf and has started reading it.

  2. I think you spoke about the same 5-minute feel good factor while reviewing RDB.. well I guess you can’t do much more using movies.

    But at the same time one does realize that movies like swades, RDB and Lage Raho have definitely started to change the erstwhile objective of crass entertainment with which Indian movies were made. And that is something to cheer for!

    As far os the new-avatar of Gandhiji is concerned, I think we need to shed the concept of old is gold when it comes to ideologies. Today’s global scenario will not tolerate a Swadesi movement and we need to accept this fact.

  3. Yesterday was brilliant… the front page of the hindustan times had 5 and a 1/2 coloums of sunjay dutt and gandhigiri (thankfully i dont take the times of india) every channel i turned to talked about “gandhigiri”, or intervewed dutt or hirani, or boman irani or some other idiot…there was a beautiful piece in one of the channels… background clippings of gandhiji’s life… set to the beatiful sabarmati ka sant… for the first time i felt almost proud… but no the illusion had to end… there was a white screen in the end, on which was written “bapu me tha dum”…. i felt like crying…

    munnabhai was a good fun movie, it was fully without being raunchy and rowdy, which was a welcome change… but if we have to equate our national ideal to a bollywood feel good movie, as a nation we are in big shit

  4. And yes, Vidhu Vinod Chopra intended to make big bucks. Providing ‘ an illusion of intellectual nourishment’ shouldn’t be so bad a thing as long as he gets what he wants and we get what we want. We all need to make a living right? Might as well make it from a film on gandhigiri than from a movie like KANK. 😉

  5. Cmon GB…I think your analysis of this trend is pretty simplistic. It is obvious that some things though of in 1940s may not be applicable today…Had gandhi been alive today do you think he wouldn’t have a website to get his message accross to more people??…the movie was a good attempt and that is all it was….just like RDB….it may be the latest trend….its impact can only be analysed after a few years….not yet….the case might be that Sholay’s “kitne aadmi the” might still be remembered instead of Gandhigiri….why does EVERYTHING need a cause to support?? Let it be what it is….a good sequel (let the media take care of hyping it)….and why should Vinod chopra NOT make money?? he did with Parinda and he lost a lot with Mission Kashmir….who cares??

  6. GB, although I agree with most of what you said, just one thing I have to disagree with. RDB was deliberately trying to be preachy whereas LRM was more for fun and entertainment primarily, the preaching, sort of came along with it. I absolutely enjoyed LRM, not bcos I admired the Gandhian lessons but because it was unadulterated fun. That’s why I admire this movie, not pretentious, devoid of cliches like “the youth has lost tradition and blah”, it was just hilarious. And yes I felt good after this movie, not because I suddenly had grown a desire to change the world, but because I had three hours of awesome entertainment.

  7. Lage Raho is like 20 over cricket or a fast food…no hassle,short and snappy..presumed to be understood by all about what Gandhi stood for..people are lovin it..

  8. I had apprehensions when I started reading your post, but not any more. I agreed with you when you talked about “selling fantasies” in Rang De Basanti, but this time around I had different conception. Although this is “Feel-rush-of-blood” think again, but I find it more practical. RDB was about changing the world. and here lies the difference. LRM is not changing the world it’s about changing myself. That’s where LRM scores, personally. More of Liberatarian thought than revolutionary, IMHO. It’s about making Gandhian way more pertinent in 21st century. The movie doesn’t get pretentious and preachy but just beautifully moves on about how one can retrospect himself/herself and not the world. I felt a slight rush of blood for RDB, but for LRM, I was thinking when I came out. and I know it has affected me in more deeper level that will be inside for a long time.

  9. The beauty of Gandhi is that if you look at his ideals and his philosophy behind each of his preachings, they can be relevant in any age and time. I think LRM did a fairly (no make that great) job of potraying his ideals. Whether Vidhu Vinod Chopra did it for monetary gain is immaterial as long as he got his ideas across (for that matter, mr. Sanjay Dutt who played all his gandhiri still faces a court judgement for bomblasts hehe)

    S

  10. … each of us shall realize Bapu in our own way.

    While most of us must have read chapters on Gandhi during our school going days, how many of us have actually read any book on the philosophy of Gandhism or thought of it as a way of life?
    LRB thankfully talks about the philosophy of Gandhi, and not just about Gandhi himself.
    But is the Gandhian Philosophy anything new? Have’nt we all read the same thing, albiet in different words, or may be languages in all our religious scriptures? Be it Hinduism, Jainism, Islam or Christanity, almost all of them at some place or the other, talks about stuff like this. We all know about it, we all keep hearing all such great vaani on the Ashtha or Sanskar Channel every day. None of us actually follow it. In todays age of cut throat competition, the only way you can hope of extracting a raise from those Corporate Fat Cats, is through lie (making yourself look much more useful than you actually are)and deception (always being ready to take credit for things done by others and to dump our own mistakes on unsuspecting collegues!)
    It is good to remember Gandhi at times, and what better way than through humorous movies, just like its good to watch Sanskar / Astha / God channels on TV at times. It purifies our souls, and prevents us from becoming monsters, but remember, its just because of those monsters within us, that we are able to survive and make a living in todays age. If we manage to give ourselves and our families a decent life, without having to rob a bank or commit a murder for it, we can safely presume that we have relized bapu in our own way.

  11. …objectively evaluate, free of idolatory and iconcoclasm ——- Gandhi the person. Gandhi the politician. And Gandhi the personal saviour.

    that’s a very nice sentence. Hear, hear.

  12. Arnab, I share your dislike of the hype behind LRM, but not for the reasons you cite. Gandhism is a lot more that what can be portrayed in a movie, and if the movie is not preachy (which it is not), you can enjoy it without worrying about the completeness of the portrayal. What the hell, I’ve enjoyed Govinda movies without worrying about the social significance of it.

    The hype is a different thing altogether. It’s as if seeing the movie will teach you about Gandhism, whereas the truth is a lot more complex than that. The beauty of Gandhi’s search for the truth is in the fact that it was still a search when he died. His success in the Independence movement, was in his estimate, only a partial success, or a success not worth savouring. He was unhappy with the results, he was uncertain of the universal applicability of his methods. He was even clear that his methods would not be valid in some non-Indian contexts.

    In short, Gandhi’s experiment with truth was the exploration of a human being, not the preachings of a god. There is much we can learn from him, but the biggest learning is that a person must find his own truth, in his/her own mileau.

    So LRM, in leaving out alternatives and the doubts embedded in Gandhi’s experiment, is a pop version of a public perception of what Gandhi stood for. Unless you read Gandhi, you would get a wrong perception of the essence of Gandhi’s teaching.

  13. “Like shovelling your own shit….that is so not cool. Also the “sex is a pathway to violent animal tendencies” idea —-nyet nyet. The ‘go back to the villages’ whole anti-industrialization angle—you mean no cell phones and IPods? And that ’spin your own cloth’ Gandhian principle—-dude are you crazy? Do you want me to be a fashion disaster like Karishma Kapoor in her first movie? Puleeze.”

    Theres always a context around statements and actions. Taken out of it, anything and everything can be made to sound ridiculous. In that era, casteism was at its heights, foreign goods were super special & available, domestic goods/industries were non-existent, self-reliance was a distant goal. celibacy has been preached far and wide and accepted as well – as a “superior state”. Gandhi never proposed celibacy for the whole world.

    All the Gandhi statements ridiculed in ways here, had undoubtedly helped India establish herself and take off the way it did in the 1950s-60s.

    For all the Babloos there are also lot of decent ppl -atleast- wanting to get better. The movie truly did have an effect – evidently. PPl resorted to non-violent means of protesting – there has been news of that. If a movie could have an impact like what Mohan describes happened on his daughter, hey – thats a winner right there for sure.

    You say this will last a week at best, well, i believe the movies delivered more, far beyond that. And well, like i said, if a movie can “move” so many ppl to even want to be better – AND – also be entertaining, what more can anyone ask of a movie???!!!

    I am glad VVC is making money. Cos thats encouragement to make more sensible movies. Having worked hard and delivered a superb product, why would anyone have issues with that, is beyond me.

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  15. @Mohan: My point is that change, wrought about by something like a movie, is rarely permanent. The only way for that is to read. Right now, most of the examples of Gandhigiri, which you may find heartwarming, are not going to persist past a few months at most. Come back a year from now and let’s see how many newspapers are carrying such “feel good’ stories. Right now, everyone is caught up in the afterglow of a successful movie—this however IMO is temporary. However if this movie challenges someone to read about Gandhi, try to understand ALL of what Bapu said and then based on his assimilated knowledge, he makes a judgement of what to accept and what to reject (as opposed to Hirani’s Gandhi packaged Gandhigiri) then the change in his outlook to life will be more permanent.

    @Rahul: Okay. thanks.

    @Ali: Yes you cannot do much more with movies. And that too a movie about a whole philosophy of life. Which is where the point of my post was “Don’t get carried away by a movie. Don’t think that the movie has changed you fundamentally…because a movie cannot. If you feel you have been moved by the movie, read about Gandhiji and take it forward.”

    However I have a feeling that for most people LGM will be the start and the end of their exposure to the full gamut of Gandhian ideals.

    @Dealer: Bapu main tha dam…sigh.

    @Ali: I am no communist. VVC has every right to make bucks as does Raykesh Sharma. In VVC’s defense, the message of the movie is way more positive than Mr. Sharma’s. My objection, mild as it is, is the packaging of Gandhiji whereas a lot of what he stood for, which are difficult to follow and perhaps irrelevant, is chucked out only for the sake of making viewers ‘comfortable’. Again I understand that that may be the only way to make people interested in Gandhi-ism again.

    @Gourav: Heh. I think the movie itself was extremely simplistic…which is not a bad thing in itself. The problem is when people think they have watched a very ‘heavy” intellectually-envigorating movie which has told them all they need to know about Gandhi-ism. “Kitne aadmi the’ is a dialogue and not an idea….so I do not see the connection with this post. And where did I say I have a problem with VVC making money? Please look at my reply to Ali for a clarification of what I meant to say.

    @Dipesh: I totally agree with your POV. There is nothing wrong with a feel-good movie and there is nothing wrong with being entertained. But when people come out thinking that they have seen something substantiative and life-changing, I have my doubts because real permanent change in the way people perceive the world is a slow, reflective process.

    @Thakuma: Again if cricket is dying and Super Sixes is the only way people will see it, then maybe it’s not a bad compromise. But I understand your point.

    @Nishit: Mmm… if you read the post I did not say LRM was selling a fantasy. That was RDB. LRM was selling Bapu-ji packaged for the Next Gen—a package that does not contain a lot of what Gandhiji was passionate about—namely rural economies, rural self-governance, sexual abstinence, alcohol….the real Bapu wouldnt have taken too kindly to Munnabhai drunk. It was one of the reasons he fell out with his real son.

    @Suyog: Well I will not agree about the eternal relevance of everything Gandhi said. Gandhi-an ideals are a far bigger set than what LRM shows—and many of his ideas are no longer relevant…when you say you are following “Gandhi-ism” or “Gandhi-giri’ you should at least be aware that what LRM shows isnt really Gandhi-ism. It may however be the part that is the most palatable for today’s generation.

    @Gautam: Which is why I ask people to read a book. That’s the only way people can have a true understanding of Gandhi-ism and be able to critically evaluate its applicability in their daily lives.

    @Apun Ka Desh: Yes certainly.

    @Bengali Guy: Ahem.

    @Sunil: Thank you. At least its heartening to see someone here who ‘gets’ what I am trying to say. Maybe the fault is mine…of not being able to express myself.

    @Sayon: Umm.. from your comments I think my reservations (I wouldnt call it dislike) of LRM is the same as what you mention especially this part:

    So LRM, in leaving out alternatives and the doubts embedded in Gandhi’s experiment, is a pop version of a public perception of what Gandhi stood for. Unless you read Gandhi, you would get a wrong perception of the essence of Gandhi’s teaching.

    @Soubhagya Dash: I think we have a pretty bad caste system nowadays too…maybe not as bad. as during Gandhi’s time. And Gandhi’s shovelling latrines wasnt just about caste…it was his idea of self-sufficiency and his way of making people understand that no task is too low for them—basically the dignity of labour. And yes Gandhi had very puritanical ideas about sex for enjoyment and he sought to impose his ideals on his family—which led to his son rebelling violently against his father’s teachings. Again the so-called changes in people that you perceive will never be permanent if the Gandhi experience begins and ends with LRM. Which it will for most people. Narendra Nath Dutta did not become Vivekananda the first time he met Ramakrishna…he was a sceptic. But gradually through learning and conversation, he underwent a metamorphosis….it was not a ‘two hour thing’. That’s the way real changes are wrought.

    @Mayank: Hmm.

  16. Nicely put — I must agree with you on the reading part. However, the movie did prove successful in mass spreading a sentiment. The choice is between watching Gandhi, the movie, every year on 2nd Oct. and yet imbibe nothing, or see LRM, and at least have the point of non-violence drilled down. More than other qualities, that is perhaps most crucial in today’s society. And maybe several such flicks can set the wheels in motion for a small change…. oh! now I am begining to sound feel-goodish 🙂
    Anyway, like N.N. Dutta the sceptic, you put your point well. But considering the popularity, LRM was a nice trade-off!

  17. First up, whos shweta polanki? Is she someone who I should be know about?
    Gandhi was deluded, his entire philosphy was based on a utopian ideal where everything would be hunky dory as long as you followed his ideals.
    His concepts are anti-progressive, proletariat tripe that would never survive in a world run by free markets and guns.
    Munnabhai is a pathetic yarn that glorifies an outmoded ideology.

  18. Theres no *1* way that change happens. Just as the effects of a 2 hour movie might wear off someone, reading lot many books might not do it for some too. Its never any *1* thing. Just as you pointed out, it took a pretty involved process (conversation & learning) for NNM to evolve to Vivekananda.

    What is it then, that might trigger this process. What is it that might indicate to people that alternatives discarded perhaps hold the key. It is through media, as they reach masses more effectively. 15 min road-side-plays on ills of drinking/wife abuse etc has had credible impact after all.

    Movies can never be ‘the process’ off which better ppl happen, it can at best be a *trigger*.. that is where LRM has hit well, as news suggest, ppl are now picking up books to try and better understand Gandhi & his ideology. They will pick what works best for them – not – each and everything that Gandhi had to say. But that is excellent progress in itself.

    Nobodys ideas are relevant across all lengths of time. To expect such is absurd. What LRM could do is present some that are relevant today and trigger the process.

    Gandhi held very high moral/ethical standards for those near & dear to him. Thats a tangent off this discussion.

  19. I did not get from your blog or your responses; you are against Gandhiji or LRM.
    I guess you are mixing both of them and perhaps using LRM for your dislike for Gandhiji.
    When someone says, “That book changed my life”, may be time is not far when someone will say “that movie changed my life” or “that match” changed my life or “that blog changed my life” ( read greatbong.net)
    Till then “Lage rahe Greatbong”.

  20. i thot it was a crappy movie, full of the usual “exceses’ one associates with bollywood. Drove for 2 hrs into Virginia, to see it, and wish they’d give me my money back. But it gets a 10/10 for a clever grass root level marketing, based on propogation of a certain emotion and ideology. but other than that; as mindless as anything i have seen. Arshad Warsi was the only saving grace. He got all the funny/good dialogues. And i wish somebody would shave that woman’s head, rather than have her “play” with it all the time “ever so coyly”. As for “Gandhigiri”, its a ‘effin’ gimmick will be over by the end of next week. wud’nt even get into a debate on Gandhi based on this tripe.

    PS I saw ‘Gunda’ on your recomendation and I say who needs Scorcese and Tarantino Kanti Shah is the man. head and shoulders above all. I suggest we all should start a movement, and collect funds for the Kanti Shah, MIthun school of acting and direction.
    But thank you!!! thank you!!!! I bow before thee!!! in complete supplication for showing me the light through this great cinematic masterpiece. Hail!!!! Hail!!!!!

  21. GB, I don’t understand one thing what you have said in your comments.

    Gandhi never advocated sexual abstinence.I don’t know where you got this idea but it doesn’t exist.

    Sexual abstinence is a stupid and pointless action.Why would anybody do it if it does not yield any result? If that is what Gandhi is all about,then I would rather not follow his ideals.

    I don’t think anybody’s personal sexual behaviour is going to influence a society.

  22. If there’s any recent movie that made me very uncomfortable with its cornyness it has to be LRM, where characters don’t act or react, they hyperventilate. The movie is lame and the usual mind-numbing bollywoody sweet. The dialogues r hillarious though and Arshad Warsi shines.
    Btw..what’s the deal with this whole gandhi-ism crap?
    How can an idea so lame as non-violence, which essentially hinges on your aggressor’s fairmindedness/mercy ever be eulogised? how about delivering flowers to mussharaf, ISI, and kashmiri terrorists every day? my gandhian conviction says they’ll stop attacking india! he he wait a minute, may be thats what the “joint terror mechanism©” is all about?
    @Rakesh: Gandhi has indeed advocated sexual abstinence. a bit of wiki and google should present the facts.

  23. @Arnab: Why do you think reading a book would necessarily have a deeper effect than watching a movie?

    Yes it is Gandhi repackaged. Yes it is a huge hit. Yes it has had some kind of (maybe temporary) effect on people. And yes, it might wear off, as you predict. So what? It made people think, as RDB did, and that by itself is quite a refreshing change from the usual hindi movies, right?

    And I agree that no text – I don’t differentiate between movies and books – need be life changing. When people say, “Reading/Watching X changed my life, it is a purely personal reaction. Some one can say reading Marx (or Gandhiji) changed his/her life. I can definitely say reading Enid Blyton changed my life (truly). And we can both agree that what the other person is reading is utter crap and snigger.

    The point is there is nothing universal about things that make people think and make them want to change for tghe better. Which is precisely why when a text comes along that makes a LOT of people think, there is usually something good happening there, and I feel we should not knock it.

    Therefore, I didn’t quite get your point in this post. Are you just being contrarian?

  24. @SB: I would say that there is something to imbibe from Gandhi the motion picture too. I personally consider that a powerful piece of work—-it may have a documentary, non-cinematic look to it, it has its historical inaccuracies and it may have racism built into its credits (all english actors are credited before the first Indian character i.e. Nehru) but it still does convey a message.

    @Footballnath: Okay that’s an opinion. Hope it is founded on reading.

    @”I did not get from your blog or your responses; you are against Gandhiji or LRM.”

    Okay.

    “I guess you are mixing both of them and perhaps using LRM for your dislike for Gandhiji.”

    Err….so do I dislike Gandhi or not Sam?

    Well I do not dislike Gandhi. I am objective about him. Neither do I deify nor villify him. And again that is quite besides the point here. Not withstanding your sarcasm, it would be a sad day when people started changing after reading a blog or two.

    @Anon: Ditto about shaving Vidya Balan’s hair 🙂

    @Rakesh: Ahem. Gandhi imposed sexual abstinence on himself and by extension on his wife. He made no bones about it—-it was a part of his experiment with truth. According to Gandhi, controlling sexual impulses was intrinsically linked with controlling animal instincts like hate and he strove to exercise “self control” throughout his life and encouraged others who wanted to follow his path to do so. The “darkest day of his life” (ref: “Freedom at night) was when Gandhiji found himself sexually excited at 78…he wept because he realized that even after so much prayer and fasting he was still not able to control his base self.

    This is what Wikipedia says:

    Gandhi gave up sexual intercourse at the age of 36, becoming totally chaste while still married. This decision was deeply influenced by the philosophy of Brahmacharya—spiritual and practical purity—largely associated with celibacy and asceticism. Gandhi saw brahmacharya as a means of going close to God and as a primary foundation for self realization. In his autobiography he tells of his battle against lustful urges and fits of jealousy with his childhood bride, Kasturba. He felt it his personal obligation to remain celibate so that he could learn to love, rather than lust. For Gandhi brahmacharya meant control of the senses in thought, word and deed

    @Twilight Fairy: Indeed. However most of us think that the media has given us everything we need to know on the subject.

    @AQC: Er emm…where did I say “I object to making money”? Really….

    @Shan: Yes we should knock it when it presents 1) a partial truth, deliberately fashioned to appeal 2) when people think they delude themselves into thinking that they have just imbibed something deep.
    The point here is very clear. I am not enthused by pulp philosophy—the RDB or the LGM type. But I am more than happy if LGM makes people think and challenge them to read Gandhi and books about him. However for most, this is unlikely to be the case and Gandhigiri will become a passing fad.
    And thanks for pointing out the “Mehra” mistake. I hope you weren’t trying to be “contrarian” by pointing out a simple mistake…..a mistake which I do not think anyone would call earthshattering.

    Or maybe I should say, like you,: So what? So what I spelt got Raykesh Mehra as Raykesh Mehra?

  25. gb, ok, like another commenter, I too wasn’t sure what was your point in this post, but I think you have made it clear in your last response to shan.
    “Yes we should knock it when it presents 1) a partial truth, deliberately fashioned to appeal ”

    I have to disagree here. I don’t see anything to knock the movie on this score. In fact, it is to their credit that they have taken the most relevant aspects of Gandhism that is applicable to the current generation and presented it in a viewer-friendly manner. I am with SB regarding comparison of LRM to Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’. ‘Gandhi’ was a massive production, technically amazing, won multiple Oscars etc. But still, it didn’t ignite the popular imagination like LRM has done, even temporarily. That’s because it just presented Gandhi as a historical figure, but didn’t tell us how to apply his principles (even a subset of it) to the present day. Maybe that was not the intention of the director, but whatever it is, LRM has outdone ‘Gandhi’ in terms of impact on the people (even if that impact is temporary) and that is quite an achievement.

    Coming to your second objection:
    “2) when people think they delude themselves into thinking that they have just imbibed something deep.”

    I don’t see why we should knock the movie for what people think. I don’t think the producer/director has ever claimed that what they have presented in the movie is complete Gandhism. So why blame the movie for what the people are allegedly deluding themselves into thinking? As for imbibing something deep, I don’t know about you, but concepts like truth, honesty, non-violence, respect for all irrespective of their “status” etc are deeper than what I expect from an average movie. Heck, if the movie has just one of those values, that itself is deeper than average. And best part is, it is done without sounding preachy (though that is subjective).

  26. There was an article in outlook magazine which stated that many young people were interested in Gandhi but what he preached had to be tailored according to the needs of the present and not blindly as some Gandhians wanted.

    As for changing the world, that is one of the remarks mentioned in Are bloggers failed writers and half-wits or for professional journalism, is this the pits?. You have the natural talent to take on any Journalist.Maybe you could answer that better.

    As for Gandhi, I have read his autobiography and what you have said in the last para maybe found in my post just below the above post.

  27. gb said: “it may have racism built into its credits (all english actors are credited before the first Indian character i.e. Nehru)”

    ..hm..really? care for a fact check??! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083987/fullcredits

    Gandhi never prescribed celibacy for everyone, it is something he tried and as gb belabors – imposed on his wife as well..He strived for a very high moral/ethical standard for himself and his immediate set of followers. That was for his quest for purity/getting closer to God. My point being, it was his personal obligation. He practiced this, did not preach this.

    As everybody’s elses idea becomes a “sales pitch” i wonder what gbs’ is in bringing up all this and … his darkest day of life and such. Whats that got to do with what he did for the country and what his teachings were????!!

    gb said: “However most of us think that the media has given us everything we need to know on the subject.”

    i presume you meant LRM in this context to be “media”. ahem…everything we need to know….from..a movie…a MOVIE??!! something you pay like 10 bux for?? Get to know everything – for just 10 bux!! no shipping/handling!! hmm…dude, speak for yourself.

    Quite evidently, most others are checking up on books &/or other resources. This is the state of WA – and most libraries I checked, have most books on Gandhi, checked out. Go figure.

  28. @Arnab: No I wasn’t being contrarian when I pointed out the Sharma-Mehra oversight. That is why I did that in a diffferent comment. And I realized immediately that I had misspelt Rakeysh’s name as well!

    As for the topic, the simple truth is that what people get out of a movie is subjective anbd individual. You obviously didn’t get as much out of LRM as did many Indians. Fine. Same thing happens with every movie – some people like it, some don’t.

    Some people find life changing, philosophies in Richard Bach, Paulo Coelho, and Ayn Rand and start living tgheir lives according to their teachings. Others get influenced by Osho. None of these (probably) enthuses you or me.

    The position you are taking is that you, personally, don’t like the philosophy propounded by those texts or that film. But a lot of people do, and it is not fair to criticize them for that. And it is rather elitist to think that my/our understanding of Gandhi’s philosophy is better than yours/others, isn’t it? Who knows? How do you test that?

    From what I know of Gandhi-ism, it is more a way of life than a philosophy. And while I might admire and agree with its significance, I at least do not live my life that way. I have never participated in a dharna. The only khadi I own is an uncomfortable kurta, and abstinence is not my peg of whiskey. But I have read Gandhi’s autobiography.

    On the other hand, those guys who have been practicing the “faux” Gandhigiri by garlanding liquor shop owners might not have read Gandhi’s book, but they are implementing his teachings, even if it is on a small scale.

    So surprise! Who is a better proponent of Gandhism? Not me, the “educated, erudite, well-read” one, but the simpleton who has seen LRM, pop version or not!

  29. @Mohan: I do not knock the movie for people getting an “intellectual kick”…..its the problem of this generation that people think that packaged feel-good is envigorating intellectually. Again if this makes you read and evaluate the entire gamut of Gandhi-ian teachings through study, then LRM would have served its purpose.

    @Hiren: That TOI guy is basically a troll. Nothing more.

    @SD: Subho Bijoya.

    @Soubhagya Dash: I apologize for the mistake for what I said in the credits. But tell me, in most movies, credits are arranged in order of appearance or in order of significance of roles right? So do you think Candice Bergen or for that matter General Dyer or General Smuts had a more important role than Nehru/Patel/Jinnah—both in the context of the Indian freedom struggle and in the context of screen time?

    Now just to show what I said was not totally wrong and where from the mistake originated let me show you this. For the Gandhi DVD this is what the first spotlighted review says on Amazon…a company that you should be familiar with.

    However, the DVD itself smacks of hypocrisy. I find that everytime a reviewer gives this disc a low star rating due to the fact that the DVD blatantly insults the fact that Gandhi spoke Hindi and that all the main actors (save for Ben) were Indian, people are quick to claim that the review was ‘not useful’. I am not sure why this is, but the truth is that this is very much an Indian film, with all the important roles played by Indian actors, and yet there is not ONE mention of ANY of their names on the DVD packaging. Candice Bergen, who appears for just eight minutes on screen, is given prime billing next to Ben Kingsley, while Rohini Hattangady, a beautiful Indian actress who plays the Mahatma’s wife and was onscreen for most of the three hour film, is not mentioned even once on the DVD.

    When you click on ‘Cast and Crew’, it is even more horrifying. Not even ONE of the actors mentioned are Indian. ALL of the actors listed are white. The great Alyque Padamsee who played Jinnah, the wonderful Roshan Seth who played Nehru, the incredibly talented Saeed Jaffrey who played Sardar Patel – all of them are not even mentioned ONCE. Considering that they appear throughout the film, this is a horrendous insult to the Indian film crew. However, consider it typical American studio idiocy, for Martin Sheen and Trevor Howard (both of whom pop up at the beginning and the next-to-end) get full page biographies and filmographies. This is intolerable.

    Link: http://www.amazon.com/Gandhi-Kingsley/dp/B00003CXA4.

    Studio lunacy? Racism?

    The reason the darkest day of the life was brought up was to look at parts of “Gandhigiri” that was left out of the movie. And coming close to God means not having sex…ahem….he advocated that as the path to truth. That also comes as part of ‘Gandhi-ism”— a concept that most people newly inthused with Gandhigiri should know.

    And about the 10 bux thing…what’s your point? I said it is NOT possible to get anything substantial/life-changing for 10 bucks….but most people will think they have turned over a new leaf after spending 10 bucks without shipping and handling? If you think that people like Polanki and all those people with flowers in their hands are hunting for “Experiments with Truth” and are ever going to get past the tenth page.. then well…..ahem…speak for yourself.

    And as to your last assertion of most books on Gandhism being checked out in WA state, in my state library most books on Gandhi were checked out in May of this year when I tried to find books on India (I was looking for “Freedom At Midnight” specifically and then broadened my search)…. go figure that one out. As a hint as to why books on Gandhi are always in demand (the few that are there in public libraries), many high/primary schools in US have Gandhi as part of their reading….I did when I went to a school in Canada many many years ago. And if you want to extrapolate your findings in WA state to what’s going on in India….

    @Shan: My opinion is that there wasn’t all that much to be gotten out of LRM and many people may think that they have gotten a lot but it’s not possible to get an amazing insight into life from 2 odd hours of entertainment. I find it a sign of our fascination with “instant gratification” that people believe that “instant knowledge’ may be acquired. That’s what I am trying to knock…if anything at all. And as to Ayn Rand and Osho…..it’s very unlikely that someone seriously influenced by these philosophies would have just seen “Fountainhead’ the movie or heard Osho for just an hour….

    Whether I like the philosophy of Gandhi-ism/Gandhi-giri/objectivism/free sex is orthogonal to the issue here……maybe for another post.

  30. dude! your source is an amazon review!!!. I can point you to several *better* review wars. I happen to know the company a little too well!! We know how reviewers crave for the helpful votes to rise up the list of top reviewers!!

    anyways..the issues this person raises – Given the fact that there was no such fun in the *actual* movie credits – which is what matters, this guys rants have little value. Your point was about *the movie*. DVDs cant cater to 100% of the audience. Going by this persons token, any movie made on/about any non-english-speaking country, should have a local language stream as well on the DVD??!!!!

    and to answer your question – credits are almost never displayed in order of significance of the characters. They are usually in billing order (higher paid gets listed first), alphabetical or order of appearance. The order in “Gandhi” was by billing grade. Yes that dyer guy *obviously* got paid more than the nehru (big surprise?!) So, neither racism not lunacy.

    also, your statement was “most of us think that the media has given us everything we need to know on the subject”. and NOT the -revised- “NOT possible to get anything substantial/life-changing for 10 bucks”. No one claimed that. Your revised statement is corollary to what many of us are saying here, that the movie served its purpose well, as a trigger.

    Gandhi in US schools, hmmm…that is a very very interesting proposition. Care to share any resource that would indicate that widespread study of gandhi in american schools??? enough to warrant books on gandhi to be checked out all through the year??!! lets make it easier for you. how about *any* study of Gandhi in US schools at all!! hehe, bring us something on that!

    you say: “The reason the darkest day of the life was brought up was to look at parts of “Gandhigiri” that was left out of the movie.”

    ah. did the movie bring up eating fruits only or following strict regimen in daily life? or oh, civil disobedience? that would be funny heh? All his life Gandhi preached disobedience and now in the movie they show civil tolerance?!! (want money back?!)..these were *real* parts of gandhigiri – unlike – what he did in his personal life. But not relevant today. several that are relevant were touched on, very nicely so too.

    Abstinence from sex, controlling human desires, not craving for super food etc etc were *Gandhi’s ways* of focussing on his priorities. He only asked of ppl what the larger masses could do, like not bowing to the foreign power. disobedience without violence..etc.

  31. and oh, this is ultra silly, but nevertheless, polanki did not ditch her *boyfriend* because of the hissing sound for the waiter .. it was someone she had never met before, but had to meet over a matrimonial proposal.

    while i am started, as Shan mentions, these ppl who you contend will not get past the 10th page of “Experiments with truth” – need not touch the 1st page either. books arent the only medium. What spreads like wildfire is by word of mouth. *That* is how Gandhis – “gandhigiris” will spread among them.

    How many ppl, that fought for the indian freedom, who were fuelled by Gandhi’s ideas back then – how many of them do you think were the educated, erudite kind that read literature???!!! How many books on Gandhi were published then?!

  32. @GB : Haha you learn something new everyday.I didn’t know Gandhi practiced sexual abstinence.Well that’s a stupid concept and that’s one concept that I don’t want tro practise.

    Even Gandhi had his flaws I guess.

  33. As Gandhi’s abstinence from sex in his private life is ridiculed here, how many of us are even considering the myriad other things he abstained from? How about abstinence from greed for material possessions? or power? How many of us would have refrained from rightfully claiming the highest offices, after playing such pivotal role in getting the country independence from over a century old foreign rule?

    how many of us have the will power to hold such values/principles against an oppressive govt? He had even totally abstained from food -and fasted for days to atone for riots and such. Abstinence was what contributed to his strength. How many of similar character do we know?

    Its short of gross travesty to pick on 1 practice of his. Sex was just 1 of the many worldly pleasures he abstained from. Most of us wouldnt even consider abstaining from any of those. But thats beside the point, we arent trying to clone Gandhi. The idea is to try and follow – what can be termed as his general guidelines to be a better person. Not everyone wants to unite with God, reach higher spiritual levels etc. Sure, if you do then Gandhi might have prescribed what he had tried with himself.

  34. Pingback: Lagged » Gandhigiri.org

  35. @Soubhagya Dash:

    “and oh, this is ultra silly, but nevertheless, polanki did not ditch her *boyfriend* because of the hissing sound for the waiter .. it was someone she had never met before, but had to meet over a matrimonial proposal.”

    Yeah right !!!! Read the link please it says “Boyfriend”. You are confusing it with the movie.

    In this case mentioning the absence of Indian actors from the DVD extras isnt something thats going to help the reviewer get positive votes. My point was not the absence of a Hindi “track”—-it was the absence of anything on any of the Indian actors on the DVD despite the fact that at least one of them, Saeed Jaffrey had a distinguished acting career in UK too.

    And as to order of appearance in a movie, allow me to share what I know….of course it is based on my extreme limited knowledge of movies….usually the order in which names appear *is* based on screen-time/importance contrary to your “assertion” that it’s based on how much they “bill” (Really we have no way of knowing that information). As an example, I would like you to look at the order of names in Star Wars vs “Return of the Jedi” or “Empire Strikes Back”. In the original “Star Wars”, Sir Alec Guiness had a small but important role. So despite being by-far the most famous member of the cast, his name comes after Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford (Ford was a non-entity when Star Wars was made). In “Empire Strikes Back” he had an even smaller role which is why his name “sinks” down in the list even further compared to Star Wars.
    Again unlike you I will not make an assertion that ALL movies do this…but yes most movies do order their cast on the basis of screen-time. Since screen-time is proportional to the fame of the actor, the list automatically gets ordered on fame too. But in the case of Star Wars where a famous actor has a small role, one can see what the real practice is. It becomes even more clear when the role of the famous actor is diminished in a sequel and his name sinks further down.

    And I wonder why the guy who played General Dyer (screen time: 5 odd minutes) should be paid more than Roshan Seth and Saeed Jaffrey whose screen times are many order of magnitudes bigger than that and who are also pretty “senior”.

    Now as to the Gandhi essay, I must confess I do not carry along statistics with me. However go to any site from which you can purchase school essays (as an example: http://www.essayfinder.com/ — which is one of the biggest of these sites) And type “Gandhi” and then see how many ready-made school/college essays you can find about him. (I saw 53)….which is quite a significant number for a non-US historical figure.

    I personally attended junior school in Canada where we had to make “projects” about Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Lincoln……

    Gandhi considered a life of abstinence (includes sex, money, intoxicants) as essential to the attainment of “non violence” and again contrary to what you said, this was not just something he personally adopted, it was something he advocated others adopt. For instance, many of his conflicts with Kasturba Gandhi and ultimately his son was because he insisted that they adopt his lifestyle too because according to Gandhi, how could he ask anyone else to follow the path of “ahimsa” if he could not get his own family to do so. These aspects of Gandhi-ism are also part and parcel of Gandhi-giri and people need to be aware of it.

    I am not saying a movie is morally obligated to carry everything about Gandhi-ism but the point is that what is passed off as Gandhi-ism is a packaged commercial product where the “uncomfortable” parts of Gandhiism have been carefully bowdlerized (for instance, if one makes LRM II with the message “Pursuit of material pleasures is a bad thing”…people wouldnt be that enthused). However if you do manage to read my post, you will see that I have said that if LRM at least makes some people go to the library and read about Gandhi’s total philosophy then yes it would have done something positive.

    As to the point about education, many of the true Gandhivadis during the Independence stuggle actually did read his books and listened to his speeches or pamphlets carrying them. And even the non-educated people who didnt read—their exposure wasnt just a 2 hour movie…they had repeated exposure to Gandhi-ian forms of struggle…often from Congress workers who travelled to villages, explaining the ideals of Gandhi. Mind you, they were preaching non-cooperation and passive resistance and *not* Gandhi-ism (there is a distinction between the two: the first is just a political form of expression and the second is a way of life)

    @Rakesh: Well now you know. And if you want to know more…..books my friend.

  36. Gandhi’s sexual abstinence (for himself and his near,dear ones) is not much different from his strong roots in hindu religious values which reflected in everything he did. We do have a ‘vaanprasth’ stage after ‘GaarHashthya’ prescribed in Hindu traditions – as a prescription of a balanced life, and all you can blame/claim is Gandhi tried to practice it a little early (you say at age of 37) and to a little extreme. Really, whatever you think of Gandhi and his ‘ism’ I do not know, but your writing here does show an skew towards showing the impracticality and if I may say, irrationality in Gandhi’ism.
    I do not think there is anything wrong in ‘BrahmCharya’ at an appropriate time in life, and finding own ways to test/prefect it in oneself. Gandhi’s experiments with truth were just that – experiments with truth.

    In my opinion your skewed reply (highlighting this fact of his life) is nothing but being highly selective to strengthen your point of view and leaves a bad taste. Ofcourse just my opinion.

  37. i agree with the fact the like the RDB effect, the Gandhian values effect will soon fade away.

    we are trying to enforce Gandhian values in a time when most of our society lacks many basic human values and decency. not that i am anti-Gandhi, its just that we are not ready for it. Gandhi believed in ‘goodness’ inside all human beings. in a way he believed in utopia. sadly this does not exist today and its hard to see Gandhian values succeed where there is lack of basic humanity.

  38. @Ravi – I’m not sure I agree. Yes, I’m against aping Gandhi, just as gandhi was against aping the British. But today you can follow many of his teachings – do not have your daughter’s boyfriend murdered if he happens to be a Dalit, clean your toilet yourself (I’m sure many of us do that already), try to maintain communal harmony, when the chap in the car behind you bumps into your rear-bumper, don’t get out and punch him in the nose, stop eating meat…

    Silly examples? Me – I’m not as great a person as Gandhi, but I can do some of the things he advocated, if I see that it gives me mental peace, if it makes me spiritually satisfied. I won’t try to practice celibacy (because it’s unfair to my spouse), or stand-up to the local drug-mafia boss (who will shoot me dead without a qualm). But in a small way I can be a Gandhian, if I want to. As long as that is possible, Why should Gandhism be utopian and unpractical?

  39. Why does reading have to be the only way to learn and critique an idea?
    The medium is the message. Very often it is easier to digest and project condensed morsels of information in varied ways through electronic media rather than a mass of rolling text, without comromising the nuance of the message.

    I could empathize and understand the plight of black disenfranchisement better through watching a video of a husky set on a protester rather than by reading an account of the civil rights movement.

    As long as the final message delivered is in sync with the original, people should not be criticized for the way in which they access ideas.
    Advocating that only people who read can comment on a situation is anti-progressive and betrays a poor understanding of the media. It sounds dogmatic and is as communistic as Gandhi and Stalin.

    Is this the result of too much cpi rule?

  40. @Ajay: The sexual angle was only one of the many aspects of Gandhi-ism I talked about—including being against technology and against cities. However, there were others who didnt even know Gandhi’s rather extreme philosophies about sex and hence it was discussed. It may appear shocking but that doesn’t change the truth.

    @Footballnath: Ahem. If you form an opinion on complex issues based on a video of a protester, then that to me in not an opinion. It’s an emotion. If you form an idea based on many videos and many speeches then it’s okay. Ideally by that time you have explored various sides of the issue. Note:I dont say “reading” here. The reason why I ask people to read about Gandhisim is because that most of the best material (critical and eulogistic and neutral) written about Gandhi is in the print form. Two hours of song and dance and mamoogiri isn’t the way to learn about Gandhi-ism ( an extremely complex philosophy of life)….if you think you have you have deluded yourself.

    And now Footballnath, I think it’ CPM rule (majority constituent in the Left Front) and not just CPI rule. And you don’t need to be ‘under a government’ to be deluded. As we can see.

  41. @gb: on this dvd issue. The DVD released in the US is meant for ppl in the US (& CA). The content on the DVD & its pricing is dictated by that, the target. DVDs have encoding to enforce target. Saeed jaffrey had little/no presence in hollywood. Economics/common sense does not justify loading information on ppl who the target will not recognize. The fact that an Indian version was made AND the actual movie had none of what you raise, should alleviate all concerns of lunacy/racism, for most ppl. @least most of those who dont expect to “learn everything there is to learn on a topic” from a movie. ahem.

    on Gandhi in american schools: so..would you still assert books are checked out in most libraries now/in may as well, per you, because of Gandhi-studied-in-US-schools?!!!! What you studied all those many years back in Canada, is sort of wayy out of range AND domain here, dont you think??!

    So, how do you want to revise your stand on that?

    you say:”Mind you, they were preaching non-cooperation and passive resistance and *not* Gandhi-ism (there is a distinction between the two: the first is just a political form of expression and the second is a way of life)”

    rrreallly!!! ok, so Gandhi said – to the british – be non-violent and practice passive resistance…..but, if theres any beef with neighbor, rrrippp his/her arse apart…aha..that sounds about right…doesnt it..! The concept was the same and it was a way of life that he preached. just that its use against the british, is not relevant today..(dohh!!..)

    You have read Gandhi?! evidently does not work dude!

    What you keep bringing up which has nothing to do with “gandhigiri” – is – how he AND ppl near & dear to him lived. That was their quest to higher spiritual levels..As Ajay mentioned, its not *Gandhi-ism*, brahmacharya and such are all concepts there since forever. Gandhi – *implemented*/experimented with – those ideas on himself & his immediate followers. earlier than necessary- 1 may think. what he gained from that, we wouldnt know, but he sure did get the strength…how many ppl would say hey ram, after getting shot?!! most here would be more like “abbe teri maa ki…” on being shot…no?

    And it wasnt like a thousand ppl followed that strict regimen. About 20 odd ppl who lived in that ashram…as you continue to belabor, included his family. Gandhi would prescribe all you contend-he did, to ppl who want to ascend spiritually. Like so many other gurus/sant mahatmas have done.

    Getting back to LRM, it portrayed “Gandhigiri”…It was NOT meant to be a lesson on some tenets of hinduism like vegetarianism, brahmacharya etc. Not going after materialistic wants and such – you think were Gandhi originals?!?! doesnt bhagwat Geeta have all that???

    on your response to footballnath, what if his opinion was indeed based on 1 video…but like a 10 hours long video…can that be a substitute for “on many videos and many speeches” (speeches would be in that 10 hr video..)…..can his opinion be an opinion now??

  42. @Soubhagya:

    I wonder if Ken Watanbe was not a household name in US when ‘Last Samurai’ released…..then wonder why his name appeared above Tom Cruise in ‘Last Samurai’. Maybe it was the importance of his role and his nearly equal screen time with Cruise. And excuse me, Edward Fox, Trevor Howard (people who preceed Saaed Jaffrey in the Gandhi credits) are by no means recognizable names in the US.

    By your logic, since noone knows Saaed Jaffrey in US., there is NO need for his name to appear in the DVD credits. In fact, it’s as if he didnt even exist. Well I wont belabour this point with you..since if “Economics/common sense does not justify loading information on ppl who the target will not recognize” noone who is not famous will ever get fame..

    Applying common sense, one can also see that people who want to buy the Gandhi DVD arent going to go ‘Oh look there’s Edward Fox and Trevor Howard in the credits. Let’s watch this movie.” or say “Oh look there’s this Indian guy Saeed Jaffrey on the credits. Really who cares’…….people who buy the DVD buy it because of the name Gandhi and its Oscar performance and NOT because of the cast. (As opposed to “Oh look it’s a Angelina Jolie movie…who cares about the name) So please let’s cut the marketing crap. And oh by the time they open the DVD extras, they have already bought the movie…and so putting in a little bit of Saeed Jaffrey wouldnt have hurt the ‘economic viability’ of the product. [Ref: “When you click on ‘Cast and Crew’, it is even more horrifying. Not even ONE of the actors mentioned are Indian. ALL of the actors listed are white. The great Alyque Padamsee who played Jinnah, the wonderful Roshan Seth who played Nehru, the incredibly talented Saeed Jaffrey who played Sardar Patel – all of them are not even mentioned ONCE. Considering that they appear throughout the film, this is a horrendous insult to the Indian film crew. However, consider it typical American studio idiocy, for Martin Sheen and Trevor Howard (both of whom pop up at the beginning and the next-to-end) get full page biographies and filmographies. This is intolerable.”]

    And I fail to see why the fact that there are so many essays on Gandhi available online doesnt prove that Gandhi is a topic that is very common in US schools. And since many people dont buy essays and prefer to do it themselves, libraries are the only place to go. And dude I understand that I am extremely old and you are not….but things havent changed so radically in the school system in US/CA.

    As to the rest of your comment, 1 video of 10 hours is still ONE man’s perspective—albeit quite long. 10 1 hour videos from different perspectives are far better because you get a well rounded view. And any opinion is an opinion….even from a 30 second TV commerical—whether it is a well-rounded one is what is open to debate.

    Well then Christianity also has “turn the other cheek’ and ‘love your enemy’ and ‘bring him to your side with love and compassion’….so where’s the Gandhi originality? I think it was creating a philosophy from disparate sources and providing a way of life where non-violence was not a conscious choice but the natural one. Gandhi-ism as a philosophy is distinct from his modes of political mobilization because for the British, it was active non-cooperation, bringing the government to a halt. Needless to say, the same thing wont work on your neighbour….for the neighbour it was do not get violent and try to win him over through love-.

    I dont know how many people lived in Sabarmati Ashram but yes those were the ones who were really following “Gandhi-ism’.( a vision Gandhiji had for the whole of India…these Ashrams were merely “testbeds”). LRM’s “Gandhigiri” had very little of that vision.

  43. you said..”Applying common sense, … … … the ‘economic viability’ of the product. ”

    Actually, i think its more like, ah seen the movie – which of these actors would i look out for…ppl who are more likely to appear in more movies I am likely to watch…anyways, as I have repeated several times here – as the larger_movie_release had no such fun && an indian version was made – these contentions are most likely not true. go ahead be the racism cry wolf.

    So, 1 essay site having essays on Gandhi (most of which are composite ones, including other leaders) => “prove that Gandhi is a topic that is very common in US schools” ???!!! Gandhi goes along with the context of Indian history..if indian history was that common in US schools, you wouldnt have had any reason to rant about how americans knew so little about india elsewhere. if you cant get this…..its painful to belabor the obvious. How about this from a link from your post?

    “After the movie we have more enquiries from people, from corporates, and sales have increased by almost 35 percent,” said Tarun Gangwani, Manager, Oxford bookstore.”

    I dont see where i contend about originality. I believe the same about philosophy_from_disparate_sources.

    you say: “Needless to say, the same thing wont work on your neighbour….for the neighbour it was do not get violent and try to win him over through love-.”

    ok. What if it were an oppressive landlord? except for a few concepts like non-cooperation which obviously would only apply to a foreign govt, all Gandhisms are fairly generic, not specific to the other sides.

    you said:
    “..If you form an opinion on complex issues based on a video of a protester, then that to me in not an opinion. It’s an emotion…”

    and then you said:
    “..And any opinion is an opinion….even from a 30 second TV commerical—whether it is a well-rounded one is what is open to debate…”

    I agree!!

    In a gist, to cap this here, we differ on what we believe Gandhi preached for the larger community. Regardless of that, I think you are contending that be_either_all_of_Gandhi or be_nothing. That does not make sense. As with all other sources, ppl can pick what best applies for them and follow. As with most human beings, its easier to follow a trodden path. LRM reminded ppl of that.

    Or you are trying to “evaluate” Gandhi. Like how sensible was he in saying X,Y,Z, while also preaching A,B,C – while A,B,C are UNRELATED to X,Y or Z. I say Gandhi was an ultra-great person with all of that from A_to_Z. I will pick from that alphabet whatever applies best to me.

    …oh what if the 10 hr video actually had input from 10 ppl? …

  44. and..calling Gandhi anti-progressive/anti-cities etc makes no sense. This is being brought way out of the context of the 1940s into the 21st century..Gandhi placed emphasis on the development of villages – as was pretty obviously – the place to start any development activity as that was where over 90% of India was.

    Are you saying that the govt should have held the handful cities at higher priority over the villages back then?..like seriously?!

  45. I thought the movie had a critical point where munna bhai gets hit the second time when he shows his second cheek. (That’s remained the ultimate,albiet simplistic, question regarding the impracticality of the Ghandian non-violence principle.) But Munna bhai simple hits back, saying that Gandhi never told him what to do when u get slapped twice. Should’nt an avid “gandhi-giri” practitioner know wat Gandhi actually meant by the show-ur-second-cheek thingy?

    Gandhi’s principles are extremely un-practical, and not just in todays times. How effective would non-violence have been against Hitler? You are not just getting slapped on one cheek, brother, u r being marched in droves to gas chambers.

    u hit someone – bad. someone hits u and u still don’t – good. u show ur other cheek – great! Its just not that simple.

  46. @sayon, the examples you mentioned don’t need the stamp of Gandhi-ism to be practiced. they are basic decency and human values!!

    trying to maintain communal harmony is not merely a Gandhian value. it is the bsaic value of tolerance! its just that many things are branded Gandhi-ism and then advocated, whereby they are percieved to be superior values. whereas most of them need not be classified as Gandhian to be followed.

    why utopian? if you and me stand up to the local mafia, we will be shot, no doubt. but Gandhi-ism would still tell us to stand up. in an ideal world we would. but we dont, thats where the utopian view and unpracticality comes up.

  47. Well, it’s unfair to suggest that Gandhian ideals have lost their place in our lives. One arm of the Indian government that still believes in Gandhigiri is the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. ISI plans and executes the 1993 Bombay blasts, the 2001 Parliament Attack, the 7/11 blasts.

    What’s our response? The proverbial other cheek in this case is a joint terror mechanism with Pakistan!

    Sorry GB, for derailing the thread. But I think, some aspects of Gandhigiri are a bit irrelevant today.

  48. GB:
    It is true that ALL the Gandhian principles cannot be displayed in a movie. In spite of that LRM did a pretty good job. Yes it was not an intellectual enlightenment to watch it but it was a pleasant reminder of some of the Gandhian principles. Shouldn’t we be focussing on some of these instead of trying to highlight those that might not be so appealing or those that seem to have little relevance today? Why is that (through your comments) you wish to focus on these and not the ones which were displayed a bit simplistically in LRM?

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  50. It’s more like the convenient application of Gandhian principles… Are we looking at a state where we are going to “interpret” the principles of gandhi like we do the teachings of the bhagvat gita or the koran or any other religious book for that matter… These are in almost all cases self centered interpretations of the personal beliefs/opinion of a person or a group of ppl… Everyone finds it easy to relate themselves to one (or more) principle/belief and then in comes the fervorous idol worship that u were talking abt… People believe that once u adopt to a principle laid down by an institution/person/religion then u are supposed to adopt all the other principles from the same source… can’t we mix and match and have a horses for courses policy which is the crux for the sucess of a lot many cricketing teams??? Basically stick to wat is feel is right without attaching a label to urself 🙂 Anybody game???

  51. Non-violence is a great but a failed idea which essentially hinges on your aggressor’s fairmindedness/mercy. how about delivering flowers to mussharaf, ISI, and kashmiri terrorists every day? my gandhian conviction says they’ll stop attacking india! he he wait a minute, may be thats what the “joint terror mechanism©” is all about?
    besdies, gandhi was a shrewd manipulator who wanted to soak the freedon struggle limelight at the cost of the lives of shaheed bhagat singh, subhashcnahdra bose and others..
    he is also famous for his advise to hindus from bangladesh/sindh punjab – “when attacked by *uslims, bow and appeal for mercy”
    he also gave out 5 crore rupees to pakistan, a state formed on the basis of hatred for hindus.

  52. Well, GreatBong,

    I know I am late on this post, all has been said probably.

    But if you really are non-partisan, you would hear out Nathuram Godse’s point of view too. Read the script of the banned Marathi Play – mee nathuram godse boltoy.

    I believe Godse was not entirely wrong in doing what he did. He had the best intentions in his mind. The damage might have been higher if Gandhi had survived, going by his Congressi style whims, fancies and dramatics.

    I sure dont understand what Gandhi was trying to achieve by letting Hindu women raped and murdered, children burnt alive, men beheaded (halaal style, if that is any consolation), and still asking us to exercise restraint(much like our foolish old manmohan). And small incidents that add up to something big – like Gandhi getting Punjabi partition refugees thrown out of unused mosque halls in Delhi out into the cold and rain, so that “minority” feelings are not hurt.

    I wonder how many realize that it is surprisingly Gandhi who is the root of most of the problems of Muslims. Pandering to minorities gave secularism a totally new meaning, from which neither the majority nor minority benefit. In addition, it never broke down the misgivings that we have for each other. We (incl muslims) would have been much more peaceful had the Gandhi brand of secularism been confined to where it belongs – the dustbin.

  53. @shadows, Vinay,

    Indians move on emmotions, not the quest of power or money (like british) or some religious doctrines (like Islamic fundamentalists). This was the biggest invention that Gandhiji made during that time and like wise he was responsible for uniting the whole India under one movement. He was the biggest motivator, who could motivate people for doing all kind of funny things that you have mentioned – and this is why he is great.

    I also have a lot of differences with his views of religion, and overdoing dramas etc, but then probably all these were necessary. Overall he is a hero.

  54. Amit,

    but he did not realize where to stop… and that messed up big time. Inspite of clear indications that nehru is not the right man, he still favoured nehru over Sardar Patel and Netaji Bose (the latter two, in my opinion, gave much more to India than gandhis and nehrus have done till date)

    Vinay,

    Yeah, you reminded me. He forced Netaji Bose out of the Congress (baahhh… so much for democracy. Netaji was elected Congress leader), and also sidelined Sardar Patel, inspite of overwhelming support to him over nehroo. Basically he hogged the limelight for the works of these two, and other true patriots. And I guess it was Rs 55 Crores, not 5. Imagine Rs 55 Crore given the value of the rupee during 47.

  55. @Shadows: Sorry to interrupt your arguments against Gandhi, which will find many takers today. But look at the countries which believed in violent change – Soviet Union in 1917, France, during the revolution, much of South America under Bolivar and Sucre and so on. When the objective was met, the violence didn’t stop, and the bloodshed simply put the most effective killers on top.

    There’s a poem called “A Semi-Revolution” by Robert Frost:

    I advocate a semi-revolution.
    The trouble with a total revolution
    (Ask any reputable Rosicrucian)
    Is that it brings the same class up on top.
    Executives of skillful execution
    Will therefore plan to go halfway and stop.
    Yes, revolutions are the only salves,
    But they’re the one thing that should be done by halves.

    Is violence the answer to the flaws of Gandhism? I don’t know. I don’t think so.

  56. Sayon is right … Gandhi was dead against violence – So he had to accepte few undesirable stuffs like partition, or differences with right wing leaders etc.

    On a lighter note: As of today, I don’t think partition was too bad for India – otherwise Bin-laden would have been sitting in India now … and our armed forces would be running from pillars to post (read dungeons to dungeons). 🙂

  57. @Amit: Seriously, not supporting Gandhi. Gandhi, unlike his ardent supporters, was never completely sure that his way was universally right (He agonised on whether non-violence was applicable against Hitler, for example).

    No, Gandhi was not above reproach, but he was right in one thing – a violent revolution is not the solution.

    Lighter note: And if you mix the politics of BCCI and the PCB into one body, the results would be explosive. Better keep them across a border. Plus the drugs scandal would be an Indian shame instead of of a Paki mess!

  58. @Sayon: Lighter note contd: On top of that, these combinations are not linear – I mean if you consider Indian cricket team has a potential X and Pakistanis have potential Y, then the combination of these two will have potential much less then X plus Y (probably less than minimum of X or Y). Aranb sorry for being way-way off the topic…

  59. should not try to watering down gandhi. there is only one way to making a difference – and that is the hard way.

    we must understand that gandhi’s resistance to induatrialisation was to prevent india from making the mistake the west did, . India had an option at the time of independence to choose her mode of development. indiscreet induatrialisation would lay waste india’s greatest asset – human resource.
    gandhi’s problem was with a material centred development. he was trying to introduce man centred development. if industrialisation helped to achieve this, he was willuing to accept it.

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  61. In response to the wikipedia article about gandhi’s experiments, I have to say that, Gandhi’s sexual abstinence at 36 is no “brahmacharya”. “brahmacharya” ends as soon as a boy enters manhood and becomes sexually active.
    Any mental exercise after that is a “Vrath” a ;a Rama’s “monogamy” as seen in the lifestyles of Mirabai, Ramakrishna Paramhamsa etc

    The sexual absitenence catholics nuns/priests and buddhist monks or Bal Sanyasis try to achieve doesn’t involve experimentation with naked bodies and porn. They are just supposed to drown themselves in prayer, religious studies, meditation and work to keep their minds off of carnal urges.

    Gandhi’s experiement with sexual urges is as perverted as though-control CIA experiemnts. I wonder how many young girls were scarred for life being part of that experiment.

    A better example for brahmacharya would be Swami Vivekanada.

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