BY KARISHMA D’MELLO
“Non-violence may be one of Gandhi’s best known philosophies, but we struggle to incorporate it in our lives. There is a desperate need for us all to get back to our roots and ideals,” says Pavni Gupta, assistant director of the Bureau of Outreach and Communication. The bureau along with National Film Archives of India, is presenting the multimedia exhibition ‘Mahatma on Celluloid’, hosted at Kala Academy, which will be open to the public until November 28.
The exhibit features seven films inspired by the life and experiences of Gandhi, screened at 1.30pm and 5pm everyday. “He may have not been fond of cinema, but the feeling was not mutual. He remains one of the most photographed and documented world leaders of all time,” says Arti Karkhanis, head of the research and documentation centre at NFAI.
The exhibit has circulated all across India since October 2, when it was set up for the first time in Delhi. It is now open to public for free, to come and celebrate the life and philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi.
“We want to use technology to communicate older ideas to bridge the gap between the earlier times and the modern world,” adds Gupta. She continues, saying the audio exhibit is her personal favourite and makes for a visually stimulating experience. “If you shut your eyes for a moment, you can envision yourself in his presence; that is an incredible feeling. It allows you to connect with him on a more personal level”.
Gupta comments that as a nation, India has successfully managed to incorporate a few elements of his philosophies, but we still have a long way to go. “I’ve noticed that the streets in Panjim are incredibly clean, but cities in other parts of India struggle with the concept of Swachata”.
Karkhanis explains that she has noticed an incredible response on the part of the public. “In the evening parents walk in with their young children, lifting them up to get a better view of the exhibits; it’s wonderful to watch.”
She mentions that there are several misconceptions about Gandhi, as with any world leader, but the exhibit pays no heed to rumours and is an accurate portrayal of his teachings and works. The exhibits include restored photographs, recovered audio and live footage of Gandhi. “We are still in the process of discovery. There’s room for much more new information,” says Gupta.
“The content and the technology they’ve used is impeccable”, says Arun Naik, a visitor at the exhibition. However, as his one complaint in an otherwise beautiful exhibit he mentions that he dislikes the association of Prime Minister Modi with Gandhi.
Preksha Sawantwadikar, a volunteer at the event comments that while there are a few visitors who are interactive and genuinely looking to learn more, “a lot of them seem uninterested; like they’re here because they have nowhere better to be”. She mentions that the older generation seems more responsive than their younger counterparts.
Pankaj Tripathi, a prominent face in modern Indian cinema, attended the exhibition too. An onlooker at the exhibit intends to gift his daughter the books up for sale at the stall. “Every film has Gandhian philosophies shining through in some way or the other. At the end of every film you see the triumph of good over evil. No film has ever encouraged injustice. We may create crime dramas, but at the end of the movie, the audience takes back with them the injustice of the crime. At the end you know that justice wins; truth wins. The truth may be hidden, but it is never lost”, says Tripathi.
Voicing a similar opinion, Karkhanis adds that truth and justice are concepts that do not have expiration dates. “His philosophies are timeless. They will never cease to be relevant”.