East and West in Gandhi

The first questionable part that I noticed in Gandhi came pretty early on in the film. Although they briefly showed Gandhi being assassinated, the first time we really get to see him is on the train. Having almost no prior knowledge of him going into the film, I was surprised to see him in a suit, sitting in a first class box of a train. As the scene progressed, I got the sense that they were trying very hard to establish Gandhi as a westernized, educated man. This image continued on with him explaining he was an attorney and showing the train employees his business card.
While I clearly have no issue with Gandhi being shown as a lawyer or an educated man (he was), the problem came with how they used this to contrast him with the people who followed him later in the film. The rallies and speeches he gave were filled with more “exotic” looking people dressed much more stereotypically. One scene in particular that stood out was the scene where Gandhi announced the new law that was passed. A man in the audience who was dressed more stereotypically eastern stood up and pronounced that he would kill anyone who disrespected his family in accordance with the new law. Gandhi quickly rebutted him saying that violence was not the answer. This portrayal of the more eastern looking characters as savage and needing taught the right way was a huge underlying theme in the movie. I think more than any other part this showed the perceived differences between western and eastern ideals.


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