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Anil KapoorGandhi My Father - labour of love
02nd Aug 2007  23.35 IST
By Nikhil Kumar  

It is not for nothing that Anil Kapoor and Akshaye Khanna turn moist-eyed while speaking about their film Gandhi My Father .

In Anil Kapoor's words, he knew it from day one that making 'Gandhi My Father' would be a life changing experience for him. Despite the movie having a very poignant subject, Anil decided not to act in it but simply produce it.

Anil first tipped Akshaye about this project when he met him by chance at an airport. By that time, Anil had won the confidence of theatre director Feroz Abbas Khan who wanted to translate his famous play 'Mahatma Vs Gandhi' into a film.

After two months Anil got back to Akshaye and told him in detail about the movie. Then he cracked a prank. He told Akshaye that he wanted him to play Gandhi in the film. This left Akshaye shell-shocked. He immediately rushed to see a mirror to check out his appearance. Afterwards, Akshaye began ignoring Anil because he did not want to play Mahatma Gandhi.

Then Anil ended the suspense and told Akshaye that he wanted him to play Gandhi's prodigal son Harilal, whose story the film is.

It took a little convincing on Anil's part to persuade director F. A. Khan about casting Akshaye in the lead role. Anyway, Akshaye was signed for the part and theatre actor Darshan Jariwala was roped in to play Mahatma Gandhi. Shefali Shah was finalized for the part of Kasturba Gandhi and Bhumika Chawla to play Harilal's wife Gulab.

Director Feroz Abbas Khan had already spent years researching the subject. Now, the onus was on Anil Kapoor to provide the high-standard production value.

Anil reportedly left no stone unturned to lend high quality to the film's production. Too much hard work went in ensuring proper props - the old train, the vintage cars, costumes, antiques and other props. Even the shooting locations had to be carefully selected. And the actors were given the right look that corresponded with the look of the era (British ruled India in early 20th century). In a nutshell, making the film was nothing short of a logistical challenge.

And during all this toil, Anil Kapoor remained very secretive about the project. He ensured that not even a single image from the film was leaked to the media. He had a promotion strategy chalked out in his mind.

It was only after the film was complete did Anil began talking about it in the media.

In the first-ever Press conference outside India for the promotion of 'Gandhi My Father' in the Courthouse Hotel in Central London, Anil Kapoor broke down while recounting the making of the film. And then, at the premiere of the film in Johannesburg recently, Anil couldn't hold back his tears when South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela spoke about Gandhi before the première.

Not just Anil, even Akshaye Khanna is very emotional about the movie. He confessed on Koffee With Karan that he often cries after just seeing the promos of the film.

'Gandhi My Father' tells the story of Gandhi's eldest son Harilal Gandhi, who rebelled against his father, converted to Islam and lived a life of a derelict before dying like a beggar.

Anil, Akshaye and Feroz's labour of love will be out for all to see on August 3.

Anil Kapoor
Akshaye Khanna
Gandhi My Father
Feroz Abbas Khan
Darshan Jariwala
Bhumika Chawla

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