Indian Nationalism as Portrayed in Attenborough's "Gandhi"

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Jonathan Giraldo

ENG3340/Mon – Wed

Professor Murray

Nationalism as Portrayed in Attenborough’s “Gandhi”
The term ‘nationalism’ evokes several feelings with which one can try to define the term but never with a concrete definition. Some define the term as a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. Others might say that nationalism is the belief that an ethnic group has a right to statehood. Benedict Anderson defines the nation as “an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (Anderson 6). Why imagined? It is imagined because “the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion” (Anderson 6). So what exactly is nationalism? Richard Attenborough’s film, “Gandhi,” offers to its audience a picture of what can be considered as Indian nationalism.

The beginning of the film is very powerful displaying a multitude of people, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh, awaiting Gandhi in the garden to give prayers. By minute 3 and 58 seconds Gandhi is assassinated. The scene following is the State funeral given to Gandhi. This is probably one of the most powerful scenes in the movie that confirms the arrival of Indian nationalism. A state hero is put to rest in all the pomp and glory that the state could afford. Here the audience sees the ‘imagined community’ in the multitudes of Indian people who marched at Gandhi’s funeral. Gandhi is dressed in the Indian flag; the very symbol of the Indian nation dressing the father of this nation as his children march on to pay their respects to the man who shared their vision of an Indian nation, free from their common oppressor, the British. There is probably no symbol stronger that represents a nation than its flag and the recognition of its national hero. In the United States of...
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