A conspiracy thriller focusing on Gandhi’s final days is hampered by questionable casting, comical back projections and terrible visual effects
Released to mark the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination, this is frankly a bit eggy – indeed, we may not witness an eggier film all year. Karim Traïdia, the veteran Algerian director who earned a Golden Globe nomination for The Polish Bride (1998), has reappeared in India (or Sri Lanka passing for India) with a conspiracy thriller based on Mahatma’s final days (co-directed by Pankaj Sehgal).
It bears some resemblance to our own tuppenny-ha’penny costume-and-crime dramas, not least in the casting of Vinnie Jones as the senior British diplomat overseeing partition. (No wonder it all kicked off.) Still, it transpires that Jones – who barely features, and who gives his usual performance when he does – is only the film’s fifth or sixth unlikeliest element.
For starters, it’s very odd that the Indian functionaries scheming to remove Gandhi should be played by non-Indians. “You don’t look very Indian,” guest star Om Puri tells New York-born Avatar heavy Stephen Lang, playing shifty new security chief Sunil Raina. “I’m an ethnic Kashmiri,” comes the none-too-convincing response. Nobody else quite fits the part, either.
This Gandhi (played by Spaniard Jesus Sans) has been clumsily overdubbed so his wisdom comes at us as if it’s from a Cillit Bang advert; the film’s uptight-verging-on-camp Nehru (Rajit Kapoor) trails an unmistakable air of Larry Grayson. Arrhythmic scene after abruptly curtailed scene offers something to drop the jaw: overemphatic supporting turns, comical back projections, visual effects apparently done on the bus en route to the premiere.