Gandhi To Hitler (2011)
Rakesh Kumar Ranjan

Gandhi to HitlerThere are three sets of letters written in Gandhi to Hitler (2011) – from Gandhi to Hitler just after the Blitzkrieg, from Hitler to his people just before his death and between a jingoist Indian army officer (Aman Verma) wandering war-torn European countryside and his Gandhian wife back home – none of which are ever read. This is only one of the hundred methods by which the film engages in there-are-no-winners-in-war philosophizing and attempts to establish a ‘universality’ of grief and suffering. The picture is an amalgam of wish fulfillments: a chance for the writer-director to remake both Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Downfall (2004), for the home audience to see their own WW2 movie and for Raghuvir Yadav (Adolf Hitler) to be paired with Neha Dhupia (Eva Braun). Only Mohandas Gandhi gets a raw deal, existing solely as a mirror image of the German chancellor. (This vehement contrast informs the organization and style of the first section of the movie: Hitler snaking through in his bunker cut to Gandhi walking through the corridors of his Ashram, the Furher belittling the officers around him with Gandhi preaching to his followers, the gradual disintegration of the Reich with the fortification of Gandhian movement). This split is also established within the third narrative track centering on the officer (and his Gandhian wife) leading group of Indian soldiers (under S. C. Bose, who sided with the German army), consisting of men of various religious persuasions. Not just the structure, but every shot in Gandhi to Hitler exists to present an idea, to illustrate a convenient thesis, while the direction, acting, editing and photography go into auto-pilot. But the film’s boldest move – which, I’m sure, reviewers would relish picking on – is to have an all-Indian cast, speaking Hindi throughout: a virtue born out of necessity that’s also a rebuttal of conventional wisdom about realistic storytelling, which is fixated on appearance, plausibility and imitation.

(Image Courtesy: GlamSham)