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Nine Hours To Rama tells the story of the assassination of Mohandas
Karamchand Gandhi the founder of the independence movement that led to
the creation of India and Pakistan. Many Hindus feel that the latter is
more like an unwanted step child that was a byproduct of the birth and
thereby hangs a tale of confrontation that has lasted to this day.
Horst Bucholtz plays Nathuram Gotse who actually managed to get up close and personal in 1948 to slay a man many regard as a 20th century saint. Though Gandhi's creed of non-violent resistance worked in getting the British out it wasn't so successful in keeping the Moslem population from creating its own separate state of Pakistan. Those years marked one of the bloodiest conflicts of the last century as Moslems and Hindus both migrated under the guns of war to the boundaries of the new states. Gotse blamed Gandhi for conceding too much to the leader of the Moslem separatists Mohammed Ali Jinnah as did many.
Bucholtz does a good job in playing the fanatic, but personally I think the film is dominated by J.S. Casshyap who gives a remarkable portrayal of the Mahatma. You really do think you're seeing some old newsreel footage of Gandhi in his last years. The Mahatma was not going to compromise, not a bit. Note the frustration of Jose Ferrer as the dedicated police inspector who knows there's a real plot out there, but is helpless as Gandhi will not let him take the slightest kinds of precautions nor will Gandhi alter his schedule. And the scene where Congress Party politician Robert Morley is trying to wangle an endorsement from the Mahatma and Gandhi ever so gently turns him down is very amusing.
Ironic that Nine Hours to Rama came out the year of the assassination of our president in America. Like The Manchurian Candidate, Nine Hours to Rama was deep sixed for a while. If you get a chance to view it, don't pass it up. And definitely see it conjunction with Bhowani Junction and Ben Kingsley's remarkable Gandhi.
Despite periodic attempts by his family to rehabilitate him, Natu Ram
Ghodse remains **unperson** in India. It is illegal to publish his name
or likeness, with the intention of wiping out all memory of the
assassin of Mahatma Gandhi.
The astonishing portrayal of the magnicide Ghodse by young Horst Buchholz shows that it is possible on an emotional level to empathize with an unsympathetic character.
The casting probably is the best thing about this picture--that and the exceptional local color of the cinematography. Buchholtz was German born and bred, yet there always was something, well...Asiatic about his looks. Darken his complexion a bit and he makes a convincing Hindu. The most inspired casting of all however was J. S. Casshyap as Gandhi. Casshyap was a university professor, Indian but entirely at home in English, and this was his first film role. His last, too so far as is known. Seeing him bent over a simple spinning wheel really is like seeing the Great Soul himself on the last day of his life.
Many commenters have remarked the effective opening titles but none seem to get the significance of showing the steady unwinding of a watch's mainspring, with driving, rhythmic Indian music in the background. Time...time is passing...time is running out--for Mohandas Gandhi, for India, for the world.
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.
I remember seeing this movie broadcast on television as young boy and being fascinated by the beautiful and exotic photography. I didn't even know who Ghandi was at that young age but was intrigued enough to watch the entire movie without really planning to. At that age I was watching sports on television mostly. I don't know much about the assassin, his motives and what happened after Ghandi's death. I would like to see if the movie is as good as I seem to remember it being today. With the increasing violence between India and Pakistan and terrorism in general, I would like to revisit this movie if possible. I am rather surprised that this movie made United States television considering how provincial and narrow-minded Americans tend to be about the rest of the world etc...
So little is heard of this film these days, that it has almost slipped
into obscurity. And that's a shame. It has a fascinating story at the
core--but the drawback seems to be a series of flashbacks that could
have been edited to omit too much emphasis on the love interest between
the assassin (HORST BUCHHOLZ) and VALERIE GEARON.
The flashbacks explaining the youth of the future assassin are interesting enough and there's a lot of local color in the splendid Indian backgrounds to give the story an authentic feel. But the romance takes up too much time that cuts into the suspenseful angle of a tale that lacks the taut excitement generated by that other famous assassination attempt depicted in THE DAY OF THE JACKAL.
Jose Ferrer and Robert Morley are the only other notables in the cast, with the exception of DIANE BAKER (whom I almost didn't recognize as the dark-skinned Indian girl that shares an intense scene with Buchholz in which she gets slapped around pretty badly).
Two hours of running time is a bit of a stretch for this tale, which is still absorbing enough to watch under Mark Robson's forceful direction. HORST BUCHHOLZ carries the film with a very intense performance that gives the film almost all of its edge.
For an even more exemplary example of this type of film, I highly recommend THE DAY OF THE JACKAL for tighter suspense.
A film which builds up to a climax is spoilt by some unconvincing performances, especially Harry Andrews' Indian Officer and Robert Morley. Despite this, the direction is reasonable and the film worth seeing as there seem so few films about this subject.
I watched this film completely at random from my library of "old VHS" I
thought it to be a very good production, but probably of marginal
interest to today's public.
After I realized what the movie really portrayed, I was fascinated to pursue some of the other comments, a piece of history that has been "missed." Really some of this is very relevant to what is happening today. I very much appreciate the sentiments pro or con in the above reviews.
Good movie overall, I'll not comment on the production, but would make the following observations: Bucholz - great performance, but where did he go from here? (I did see the obit); Ferrer - very impressed with his handling of his role; Morley - miscast and not in character
Lastly. this was an AngloHollywood production of an IndoPakistani historic event. A Bollywood reproduction might prove interesting!
This film is fascinating because much of it was filmed on location in India during the early 1960s. The film is worth watching just for the exterior background scenes. If one thinks of this film as a dramatic travelogue it may be more palatable. The acting is mediocre all around. Horst is almost convincing as the tormented alcoholic assassin. How much better this film could have been with an Indian cast, one can only wonder. Since the Indians produce more movies than any other country it is a shame that no Indian actors were involved in this production. Dianne Baker looks very lovely in her dark makeup and braided hair.
Though the work behind this film may have been admirable at the time and may have had good intentions, the result now is at best unspectacular and at worst insulting. Some intriguing titles by Saul Bass give way to a pretty pedestrian film. The story is torturously told...featuring the dreaded flashback approach and a gallery of clichéd characters and situations. The cast is a befuddling mixture of British, German, Puerto Rican, American and who knows what all else all shuffling around in dark contact lenses and "brownface" as they attempt to portray Indian people. They all adapt that hokey sing-song method of speaking which is an exaggerated and stereotypical version of how Indians relay the English language. It's worst sin is it's DULLNESS! From the man who would direct "Valley of the Dolls" and "Earthquake", one might have expected a touch more pizazz! The climactic assassination attempt is pretty tense and well handled, but getting there is no picnic.
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