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Review | Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh – The Gandhification Of Nathuram Godse

Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh is a history film featuring Deepak Antani and Chinmay Mandlekar in the lead roles. It is written and directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, and produced by Manila Santoshi.

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The Gandhification Of Nathuram Godse

It was a brilliant ‘What if?’ idea.

What if Gandhi had survived Godse’s bullet and the two had a personal interaction? The debate between G and G would’ve been a scintillating exchange of ideology, giving a glimpse of the history of our Partition from both sides.

Gandhi has had his say several times in the past. In 1982, an Oscar-winning film was made on him by Richard Attenborough. More recently, Rajkumar Hirani paid homage to the non-violent Gandhian way of resolving dispute in Lago Rahe Munnabhai (2006).

With the ban on Godse’s version lifted, would the assassin’s point of view be put across to make an engaging battle of words?

With a well-researched and well-made The Legend Of Bhagat Singh (2002) behind him, Rajkumar Santoshi would have been the right man to cinematically present the clash of two historically different ideologies that are relevant to this day.

Writer-director Santoshi and dialogue writer Asghar Wajahat unfortunately deviate from the potent clash to attempt another cinematic deification of Gandhi that climaxes with the conversion of Nathuram Godse. That too would’ve been acceptable if only the route taken had resulted in an engrossing slice of Indian history.

In the aftermath of the bloody Partition, with shelter-less Hindus and Sikhs being forced to give up mosques and property to the Muslims, Godse’s fury rises as he finds Gandhi tilting towards one community. Gandhi’s famous fasts unto death are pure emotional blackmail, believes Godse. He is above the government, above the law, above the country. He has to be stopped.

After the assassination attempt that leads to the fictional ‘what if’ film by Santoshi, Gandhi’s
recommendation to Nehru and company to dismantle the Congress, his gram swaraj and other movements are many in number and erratically told, coming off like an explanatory documentary on why Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi did what he did. It has little to do with the confrontation between two ideologies. Which too would’ve been fine if Santoshi had not got distracted by typical elements. Like a sleazy scene between a privileged upper caste and a young girl he’s out to molest which was preceded by the lascivious order, “Which girl are you getting me tonight? Not another buddhi like last time.” Or the track of the typical cruel middleman who struts around the marketplace and another of a police constable a la Asrani in Sholay. This is not the cinema for such silliness. Especially when all these characters go to court against Gandhi. It is serious history.

A light moment like Gandhi remarking to a woman called Nirmala that his bakri is also called Nirmala was the kind of levity that this kind of cinema needed.

Santoshi also gets distracted with trying to showcase his own daughter, Tanisha Santoshi as an actress. There is therefore an entire track of her love story as Sushma who’s caught in the crossfire between her heart and Gandhi’s perverse obsession with celibacy. Tanisha even has ‘Vaishnava janato’ picturised on her Hindi film style, tears flowing down her cheeks.

Sushma’s track, incomprehensible in the beginning, ends up as another case in favour of Gandhi. He’s shown as amenable to reason and not the stubborn unbending man he was reputed to be. There’s even an imaginary visit by Kasturba who wags a finger at Gandhi for troubling her in her lifetime, listing the sorrows he has brought to a list of women and men because of his unwavering opinions and beliefs.

Gandhi (Deepak Antani) smiles placatingly, Godse (Chinmay Mandlekar) thunders like a theatre villain. The stark difference sets the tone for an obvious tilt, no balance between the two views. Further, with Godse swearing lines like, “Ek din idhar bhagwa lehrayega,” the prejudice is clear, leaving no space for the assassin to tell his story. The missed opportunity to document a stirring clash of ideologies makes one wistful especially since the title promised a vital debate.

But that doesn’t sum up the disappointment. It is the unexciting narration of Indian politics that is the real problem.

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The Gandhification Of Nathuram GodseReview | Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh - The Gandhification Of Nathuram Godse