Journal article Open Access

Bharat Nirman and the Aestheticization of Politics

Harshit Nigam

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), popularly addressed as Mahatma strove hard to blur out the
dialectics of the ‘personal’ (private) and the ‘political’ (public). Tridip Suhrud in Rediscovering Gandhi has
argued that a divide between the ‘political’ and the ‘spiritual’ has been the hallmark of the entire academic
scrutiny on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. However, the ‘personal’ and the ‘political’ nuances of Gandhi have
not been acknowledged within the Bombay Filmdom until the late 1990s. Gandhi was accorded a saintly status
after independence and it became a formidable task to animate him on to the celluloid screen. Contrary to
this, there has been an instantaneous enticement towards Gandhi in the ‘multiplex era’ which simultaneously
coincides with the leadership of United Progressive Alliance and its endorsement of ‘Bharat-Nirman’ agenda.
This paper will attempt to examine the ideologies behind the recent hype on Gandhi both as a ‘subject’ and
‘pedagogue’ in Bombay Cinema, and the possible nexus between mainstream politics and the cinematic
imagination. More specifically, by carrying out a socio-political study of a set of select films, this paper would
assert that an attempt has been made through the celluloid to aestheticize Gandhi which not only obliterate
the ground realities of the Indian socio-democratic structure, rather more significantly do a disservice to
Gandhi himself who was in favor of maintaining a ‘dialogical’ attitude towards the ‘self’ as well as with the
‘others’.

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