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Politics Bollywood And Hollywood Unite To Whitewash A Dictator

May 23, 2009
Bollywood and Hollywood Unite To Whitewash a Dictator

Posted by Jodha in Entertainment on 11 30th, 2009 | 6 responses
It was only a matter of time. Indira Gandhi created many myths during her tyranny. She created the myth of herself as ‘Kali’, the goddess of destruction following the war in Bangladesh in 1971. She created the myth of herself as “Mother India”, with a strong matriarchal love and care for her subjects. However, the most important myth that she helped create that has long captivated western audiences was the foundational myth of India’s independence – the nonviolence of Gandhi.
Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi is one the most well-known films about the subcontinent. In 1982, the movie was awarded the Best Picture by the Academy Awards. Ben Kingley, who played Gandhi, and the director, Attenborough, also received individual credits. However, few have ever delved into the politics in the movie’s creation. In many ways, we find ourselves far removed from the world of art and into the territory of propaganda.
The funding of the Gandhi was highly unusual. Fully one-third came directly from the national treasury – could we ever contemplate money coming directly from the Treasury Department to fund a commercial, errr I mean movie? Propaganda at its best requires whitewashing and in the film we see a guiltless Nehru, the evil villain Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and a de-Hinduized Gandhi, without patriarchy, caste prejudices, or hypocrisy.
It was to be expected as the screenplay was checked and rechecked throughout the whole process, often directly by the then-Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi herself. Many noted that the opening credits of the film should have had the message: “The following film is a paid political advertisement by the government of India.
I leave out a discussion for Gandhi for now, but will hope to take it up later. For now, we focus on the film. The success of the movie in terms of cultural capital cannot be emphasized enough. It was this movie that helped solidify the myth of India as related to Gandhi – overthrowing colonial rule, nonviolent, and wedded to the belief of equality for all. Indira Gandhi’s purchase still continues to reap rewards for India almost three decades later.
We now get the sequel.

It seems Hollywood and Bollywood are teaming up for the next great propaganda piece. The description speaks for itself:
The biopic of the former prime minister of India who was assassinated in 1984 has a budget of £40 million and an international cast and crew.
Krishna Shah, the director, told The Daily Telegraph :”This is the project of my life, both in its scale and the subject. I have been working on the script for over two decades and it is simply a story that has to be told. It took me years to find a way into her story, but I found it with her role as a mother – both to her family and to a nation with its teeming millions. Indira was India.
“The story is of how Indira is a mother in every aspect of her life, and how she used her instincts, compassion and tough love to hold the nation together – ultimately ending with her violent death and martyrdom to the cause of national unity.[link]
A martyr for national unity? Now that is rich. With amazing animation being produced and the creation film screenings and festivals to promote our own stories, I wait for the final payoff. When we will be in a position to epically tell our own story.
In the meantime, I leave you with the Penn and Teller piece on Gandhi

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Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

This Shabd is composed by Guru Nanak ji in Asa Rag and is recorded on page 360 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The complete shabd is as follows.

ਖੁਰਾਸਾਨ ਖਸਮਾਨਾ ਕੀਆ ਹਿੰਦੁਸਤਾਨੁ...

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