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"Nine hours to Rama" depicts the life of Nathuram Godse the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi. How Godse planned the assassination is shown in the film. How he became a Hindu activist who (unfairly) blamed Gandhi for the killings of thousands of Hindus by Muslims is revealed in a series of flashbacks. Written by
Fascinating film, dramatizing the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.
NINE HOURS TO RAMA distinguishes itself in the category of "historical fiction." While remaining faithful to Stanley Wolpert's novel, it perfectly captures the political tension of post-independence India which led to the murder of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948.
Nelson Gidding's screenplay eliminates some of the clutter of the novel, limits the flashbacks to the background of the assassin, Nathuram Godse, and maintains a good pace through the painful climax. Director Mark Robson (THE HARDER THEY FALL, VON RYAN'S EXPRESS), with the help of cinematographer Arthur Ibbetson, makes good use of the diverse landscape and people of India. Robson's international leads portray Indians with intelligence and sensitivity, blending expertly with many Indian supporting actors.
In making the transition from an exuberant 18-year old to an embittered fanatic of 30-plus, Horst Buchholz delivers an intense, focused performance as Godse, the real-life killer. Don Borisenko is his partner Apte, plagued by doubt and fear, and straining to reconcile his fateful mission with the tenets of his Hindu faith. The biggest liberty taken with history is the addition of a sophisticated, married woman with whom Godse falls in love, played by the lovely, elegant Valerie Gearon.
Jose Ferrer is superb as the Delhi police inspector desperately trying to prevent the inevitable, but hamstrung by the target himself. His frustration is shared by Harry Andrews, unrecognizable as a Sikh general. Robert Morley is fabulous as the parliamentarian whose hard-headed politics clashes with Gandhi's idealism. The gorgeous Diane Baker plays a prostitute who provides Godse with some much-needed refuge.
By far, the most inspired piece of casting is that of a former teacher, J. S. Casshyap, as Mahatma Gandhi. (Yes, HE is Indian!) His scenes, however brief, are the most startling. His resemblance to the great leader -- face, body, and voice -- is nothing short of remarkable, even more so than Ben Kingsley in the second half of GANDHI. It is one of the many injustices of the film world, that Casshyap was never even nominated for an Oscar for "Best Supporting Actor."
Robson and his crew deserve high praise for their fidelity to the subject matter and the professionalism of its execution, from Saul Bass's chilling opening credits (showing the inner workings of a stopwatch) and Malcolm Arnold's magnificent score, through the costume and production design, all the way to the brilliantly staged and edited assassination sequence. The result is one of the most underrated films of the 1960's.
I am furious that this is not available on VHS or DVD; in fact it should be in the widescreen format! One can only hope that 20th Century Fox will someday rectify the situation.
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