Why is this historical film controversial?

Will this new film about India’s most famous political activist shed light on one of the biggest conspiracy theories in history?

From John Kennedy and Princess Diana’s deaths to the moon landing, history is full of conspiracy theories that intrigue the public and add to people’s imagination.

Curiously, humans are seemingly predisposed to coming up with assumptions no matter how bizarre they might sound – Elvis Presley faking his own death or Earth being flat, to name a few.

Though most of these theories aren’t based on fact, some people believe that mass conviction in a conspiracy theory – no matter how peculiar – can stir people’s emotions and encourage them to take action to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.

Now, a new movie tackles one of the most controversial events in history that rocked not only a country but the entire world, an event is still marred with conspiracy theories over 70 years later.

The Gandhi Murder, set for release in the UAE on 31st January, takes a look at the days leading up to the death of Mahatma Gandhi on 30th January, 1948.

The movie explores the theory that India’s police force and ruling politicians were fully aware of the plot to assassinate the Indian activist.

The film is set in a time when India was experiencing a violent upheaval in the wake of the partition of the British Indian empire, creating two independent territories: India and Pakistan.

In the midst of the chaos was Gandhi, who, despite being the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule, campaigned for peaceful dialogue.

His stance didn’t endear him to certain parties, which ultimately led to his assassination from the hands of right-wing activist and ex-journalist Nathuram Vinayak Godse.

Seventy years after that fateful day, Gandhi’s passing continues to elicit speculations and questions from all walks of society.

 

“This is a film based on real events around the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi at a time when India was divided on sectarian grounds, especially after the partition,” Dubai-based producer and the film’s co-director, Pankaj Sehgal, told Gulf News.

“Gandhi was trying to bring people together, but unfortunately many people didn’t believe in the concept of togetherness. At that time, some police officers knew about the assassination plot. They were aware of it, but chose not to act.”

Due to the film’s edgy tone, the producers decided not to screen the movie in India, citing security issues following alleged threats. It doesn’t help either that India is entering election season in April and May.

“It is shocking that without even seeing the movie, people have made their own assessment of whether it is pro- or anti-incumbency, without the consideration that this is a privately produced film with the producers having no link with any political party,” added Pankaj, who co-directed the film with Algerian Karim Traidia.

Decades after Gandhi’s assassination, when the activist is still highly regarded for his endeavours to spread peace, films such as The Gandhi Murder aren’t attempting to answer conspiracy questions, but rather add to the legend of the man whose influence lives on even after his passing and who helped shape India as we know it today.

“I love history, but when I was a kid my history books only covered Gandhi’s role in pre independence India, but not much else is covered,” said Pankaj.

“Our intent is to show Gandhi’s immense contribution to India post-independence, which is something that very few people understand. They don’t understand that his assassination was bigger than any of his other contributions.”

Starring: Luke Pasqualino, Stephen Lang, Jesus Sans and Om Puri
Rating: 15+
Running time: 120 minutes

WORDS Ferdinand Godinez

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