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The Making of the Mahatma (1996)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was invited to South Africa in 1893 to settle a case for a wealthy Indian settled there. He expected to return in a few months but instead got involved in the freedom movement and eventually stayed for 21 years.


Shyam Benegal


Fatima Meer (based on her book "Apprenticeship of a Mahatma")
1 win. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Rajit Kapoor ... Barrister Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Pallavi Joshi ... Kasturba Gandhi
Keith Stevenson Keith Stevenson ... Rustomjee
Paul Slabolepszy Paul Slabolepszy ... Jan Smuts
Himal Devnarain Himal Devnarain ... Cachalia
Strini Pillai Strini Pillai ... Dada Abdullah
Charles Pillai Charles Pillai ... Thambi Naidoo
John Whiteley John Whiteley ... Harry Escombe
Dale Cutts Dale Cutts ... Reverend Baker
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ronny Belcher Ronny Belcher ... West
Lieb Bester Lieb Bester ... Boer Coach Leader
Douglas Bristow Douglas Bristow ... Mr. Chamney
David Clatworthy David Clatworthy ... Kallenbach
Paul Ditchfield Paul Ditchfield ... Fowle
Peter J. Elliott Peter J. Elliott ... Pretoria Jail Superintendent (as Peter Elliot)


One of two feuding Mohammedan cousins living in Britain but of Indian origin seek the assistance of an Indian Barrister to travel to Britain and settle their matter in a court of law. The Barrister travels to Britain, and finds that all Asians are treated as coolies, and their status is worse than of servants. Despite of being dressed in a suit and a tie, he is thrown out of a first class train compartment; is asked to remove his cap in a court of law; asked to ride with the driver of the coach; and even shoved out on the footpath for daring to walk close to a bureaucrat's premises; beaten, and abused with no recourse to any justice. His attempts to grieve these issues is met with strong governmental and bureauctatic disapproval and opposition. Notwithstanding this, he settles the dispute between the two cousins out of court, and sets about trying to organize the local Asians to assert their rights, and even represents some of them in Court. Then he journeys to Durban, South Africa, ... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Resistance without violence. Confrontation without enemies. Victory without losers.






South Africa | India



Release Date:

26 April 1996 (South Africa) See more »

Also Known As:

Apprenticeship of a Mahatma See more »

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User Reviews

Great for the most part
6 February 2008 | by ragavacharyarSee all my reviews

The movie chronicles Gandhi's life from his initial departure to South Africa in the 1890s till his return in the late teens. The movie is great for the most part. Instead of putting Gandhi on a pedestal like the Attenborough film does, it shows Gandhi more as a human being, and shows how an ordinary man came to become a hero to his people. The movie also shows how Gandhi sacrificed his family to ascend to become a leader of his people. The book faithfully follows incidents outlined in Gandhi's autobiography, and is perhaps for this reason a bit wooden. Wooden in the sense that the characters seem like caricatures rather than having the full depth of emotions that a person would normally have. This is a problem generally with many biopics in that they fashion a script from an official record and lose some of the human character in the process. Some of the statements made by Gandhi seem like grandstanding when Gandhi just utters them out of the blue in reaction to a complicated issue without any serious reflection (since some of this is a dramatization of things actually written by Gandhi, it appears funny when Gandhi out of the blue spurts out some language that seems awfully esoteric and philosophical) Some of the extras don't appear to act with genuine enthusiasm either. Getting beyond this, the movie does a good job of showing the fear and injustice which awaited Indians in South Africa in much more stark terms than other movies, and did a good job of showing realistically the creating of a social movement. Thumbs up to Mr. Benegal, a fine filmmaker for another fine movie.

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