Gandhi: the movie

For those of you who loved the movie Gandhi — or those of you who have never seen it — there is a 25th anniversary special edition DVD. it came out in 2007 but I just found out about it! the 2-disc set has interviews about filming in India, about finding the right actors, along with archival footage, plus the picture and sound have been digitally remastered.

from the reviewing website:

Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, a labor of love that took nearly 20 years to make it to the screen, is one of the last true epics that spans decades yet keeps you tied to an emotional, human anchor. That anchor would be Gandhi himself, Mohandas Gandhi or Mahatma “Great soul” Gandhi as he was referred to later on in his life by the people of India.

Winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture (1982), Best Director (Attenborough) and Best Actor (Ben Kingsley as Gandhi), Gandhi has been released for a second time on DVD, this time however as a glorious 2 disc set celebrating its 25th anniversary that has to be one of the best DVDs released in 2007.

The film chronicles the leader of the nonviolent resistance movement against British colonial rule in India during the first half of the 20th century. It opens with an appropriate statement from Attenborough stating, “No man’s life can be encompassed in one telling…least of all Gandhi’s….”

I have never been to north India where Gandhi spent most of his life. but what many people don’t know is that he also spent time in Tamil Nadu, the state that I travel to in India. I have been to Madurai twice, the last time just this past January, and I always make time for the Gandhi Museum. It is a place where I find peace in the riotous city of Madurai. the exhibits tell the story of Gandhi’s life in south India and how important Tamil Nadu was in the India’s struggle for independence. the last exhibit is in a room that is painted black — it is a glass case that contains the dhoti that Gandhi was wearing when he was assassinated and it still contains his blood stains.

I can not describe how much I love spending time at the museum, just walking around the grounds, visiting the bookstore, buying chai from the chai seller, who can’t speak English but always has a big smile for me when he gives me free pictures of Gandhi.

During my 2006 trip, on the train ride back to Chennai from Rameswaram (a 17 hour ride), my compartment mate was a businessman who started a conversation with me when he saw me reading Gandhi’s autobiography that I had bought in Madurai. It was the first time that I heard about how some Indians hate Gandhi. It really surprised me. I asked him why and he said that many Indians blame Gandhi for the Partition: “The partition of India left both India and Pakistan devastated. The process of partition had claimed many lives in the riots. Many others were raped and looted. Women, especially, were used as instruments of power by the Hindus and the Muslims; “ghost trains” full of severed breasts of women would arrive in each of the newly-born countries from across the borders.”

The Partition is still a very sensitive subject for many Indians. my compartment mate told me that many Indians hate Gandhi the same way that many Americans hate George Bush. those of us who know how much Martin Luther King, Jr. admired Gandhi will find this sentiment shocking.

some photos of the Gandhi Museum, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India….






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happy independence day, Ma India

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=7399792002477900458&hl=en

Today is India’s Independence Day. Sixty years ago today the world’s largest democracy was born. This video is a performance of India’s national song.

I have only been to India twice and will return to south India in January 2008 for my third trip. It’s been said that if one is tired of India, one is tired of life.

Good, bad, or indifferent, I love India. When my foot first hit Indian soil, I felt like I had come home. I stepped out of the Chennai airport at about 2 AM, stopping for a few moments to take everything in, just as an animal does when you open the door for its escape — it stops and sniffs the air and you can see its nostrils flare, and the eyes trying to take everything in at once, and you can see the hair rise almost imperceptibly on its neck, before it bounds away, never to look back. I felt free and powerful and alive. That night was my independence day.

There is not a day that goes by since I returned from my first trip that I do not think about India, the people I met there, the experiences I’ve had. My fourth and fifth trips are seeds in my mind’s garden, waiting to sprout — Rajasthan, then the Kumbh Mela. I travel to India alone, a solo female traveler of a certain age, which is just the way I like it.

Home is where the heart is, and my heart is in India.