By John Briley
And now we are approaching the city, the squalor of the little
shanty dwellings around the outskirts, the shadows of large factories . . . And as we move
nearer, coursing over the parched terrain, the tiny fields of cultivation, strands of
sound are woven through the main titles, borne on the wind, images from the life we are
HOUSE SERVANT'S VOICE: He will be saying prayers in the garden just follows the others.
In contrast to those about him, there is tension in Godse's face, an
air of danger in his movements.
MANU (gently): Brother Bapu is already late for prayers.
Ignoring her, his nerves even more taut, Godse joins his hands
together and bows in greeting to the Mahatma.
GANDHI: Oh, God . . . oh, God . . .
Amid the screams and sounds of chaos we dissolve through to
MURROW (clipped, weighted): . . . The object of this massive tribute died as he had always lived a private man without wealth, without property, without official title or office . . .
MURROW'S VOICE-OVER: Mahatma Gandhi was not a commander of great armies nor ruler of vast lands, he could boast no scientific achievements, no artistic gift . . . Yet men, governments and dignitaries from all over the world have joined hands today to pay homage to this little brown man in the loincloth who led his country to freedom . . .
We see the throng, following the weapon-carrier bier of Gandhi as it
slowly inches its way along the Kingsway.
MURROW'S VOICE-OVER: Pope Pius, the Archbishop of Canterbury, President Truman, Chiang Kai-shek, The Foreign Minister of Russia, the President of France . . . are among the millions here and abroad who have lamented his passing. In the words of General George C. Marshall, the American Secretary of State, "Mahatma Gandhi had become the spokesman for the conscience of mankind . . ."
In the crowd following the bier we pick out the tall, English figure
of Mirabehn, dressed in a sari, her face taut in a grief that seems ready to break like
the Ganges in flood. Near her a tall, heavy-set man, Germanic, still powerful of build and
mien though his white hair and deep lines suggest a man well into his sixties
(Kallenbach). He too marches with a kind of numb air of loss that is too personal for
MURROW'S VOICE-OVER: . . . a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empires." And Albert Einstein added, "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."
The camera picks out those who ride on the weapon-carrier with Gandhi's body . . . the stout, blunt, but now shattered Patel, Gandhi's son, Devadas, the strong, almost fierce face of Maulana Azad, now angry at the Gods themselves . . . and finally Pandit Nehru a face with the strength of a hero, the sensitivity of a poet, and now wounded like the son of a loving father.
MURROW'S VOICE-OVER: . . . but perhaps to this man of peace, to this fighter who fought without malice or falsehood or hate, the tribute he would value most has come from General Douglas McArthur: "If civilization is to survive," the General said this morning, "all men cannot fail to adopt Gandhi's belief that the use of force to resolve conflict is not only wrong but contains within itself the germ of our own self-destruction." . . .
A news truck is parked in the mass of the crowd. As the cortege nears, the photographers on it stand to snap their pictures. There is a newsreel crew center. The camera features a woman photographer (Margaret Bourke-White) who sits with her legs dangling over the side of the truck, her famous camera held loosely in her hand, unregarded, as she watches the body of Gandhi approach. The intelligent features are betrayed by the emotion in her eyes. For an instant we see Gandhi from her point of view, and read the personal impact it has on her.
MURROW'S VOICE-OVER: Perhaps for the rest of us, the most satisfying comment on this tragedy comes from the impudent New York PM which today wrote, "There is still hope for a world which reacts as reverently as ours has to the death of a man like Gandhi." . . .
The camera is high and we see the cortege from the rear, moving off
down the vast esplanade, its narrowing path parting the sea of humanity like a long trail
across a weaving plain . . . and as the shuffling sound of sandalled feet fades in the
distance we dissolve through to
GANDHI: Tell me do you think about hell?
The porter has glanced down the corridor, where from his point of view we can just glimpse the European talking with the conductor.
PORTER: Excuse me, baas, but how long have you been in
He looks up suddenly then turns back quickly to his work. Gandhi
glances at the door to see what has frightened him so.
CONDUCTOR: Here coolie, just what are you doing in this car?
Gandhi is incredulous that he is being addressed in such a manner.
GANDHI: Why I I have a ticket. A First
He's taken out the ticket but there is a bit of bluster in his attitude and it is cut off by a cold rebuff from the European.
EUROPEAN: There are no colored attorneys in South Africa. Go and sit where you belong.
He gestures to the back of the train. Gandhi is nonplussed and beginning to feel a little less sure of himself. The porter, wanting to avoid trouble, reaches for Gandhi's suitcases.
PORTER: I'll take your luggage back, baas.
He reaches into this waistcoat and produces a card which he presents to the conductor.
GANDHI: You see, Mohandas K. Gandhi, Attorney at Law. I
am going to Pretoria to conduct a case for an Indian trading firm.
Gandhi is still puzzled by his belligerence, but is beginning to react to it, this time with a touch of irony.
GANDHI: Sir, I was called to the bar in London and enrolled in the High Court of Chancery I am therefore an attorney, and since I am in your eyes colored I think we can deduce that there is at least one colored attorney in South Africa.
The Porter stares amazed!
EUROPEAN: Smart bloody kaffir throw him out!
He turns and walks out of the compartment.
CONDUCTOR: You move your damn sammy carcass back to
third class or I'll have you thrown off at the next station.
GANDHI: But you're a rich man why do you put up with it?
We are in a large Victorian parlor in a well-to-do home. Facing Gandhi are Khan, a tall, impressive Indian. Singh, slighter and older than Khan, but wiry and looking capable of physical as well as intellectual strength, and Khan's twenty-year-old son, Tyeb Mohammed.
KHAN (a shrug): I'm rich but I'm Indian. I therefore do not expect to travel First Class.
It is said with a dignity and strength that makes the statement all the more bewildering. Gandhi looks around helplessly. We see Mr. Baker, a wealthy white lawyer, whose home this is, poking at the fire, slightly amused at Gandhi's naïveté.
GANDHI: In England, I was a poor student but I
Gandhi is holding a British legal document; he lifts it pointedly.
GANDHI: This part of "England's" Empire!
Gandhi look at Mr. Baker almost in disbelief.
GANDHI: But that is very un-Christian.
Mr. Baker smothers a smile.
TYEB MOHAMMED: Mr. Gandhi, in this country Indians are not allowed to walk along a pavement with a "Christian"!
Gandhi looks at Khan incredulously.
GANDHI: You mean you employ Mr. Baker as your attorney,
but you can't walk down the street with him?
He smiles, but his eyes show that it is no joke.
GANDHI: Well, then, it must be fought. We are children
of God like everyone else.
He lifts the documents threateningly.
SINGH: You will make a lot of trouble.
Its tone is chilling, and Gandhi's firmness is shaken a little.
GANDHI: We are members of the Empire. And we come from an ancient civilization. Why should we not walk on the pavements like other men?
The sturdy Khan is studying him with a look of wry interest.
KHAN: I rather like the idea of an Indian barrister in South Africa. I'm sure our community could keep you in work for some time, Mr. Gandhi even if you caused a good deal of trouble. (Gandhi reacts uncertainly.) Especially if you caused a good deal of trouble.
Gandhi glances at Tyeb Mohammed and Baker, then stiffens, plainly
frightened by the challenge, but just as plainly determined to take it.
GANDHI: There's the English reporter. I told you he'd come.
We see the English reporter waiting sceptically. Near him, trying to be inconspicuous on the edge of the small crowd, are five policemen (one sergeant and four constables). A horse-drawn paddy wagon is drawn up beside them.
KHAN: You also said your article would draw a thousand people. (If the crowd numbers 100 they're lucky.) At least some of the Hindus brought their wives.
We see five or six women in saris standing together.
GANDHI: No. I asked my wife to organize that.
We feature Gandhi's wife, Ba, standing at the front of the women. She possesses a surprising delicacy of feature, with large expressive eyes and a beautiful mouth but at this moment she is ill at ease and uncertain, forcing herself to do that which she would rather not.
SINGH (alarmed): Some of them are leaving . . .
Gandhi wets his lips nervously. He glances with a little apprehension at the police, then takes his notes from his pocket and moves to the front of the fire. He holds up his hand for attention. He forces a smile then starts reading
GANDHI: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have asked you to gather here to help us proclaim our right to be treated as equal citizens of the Empire.
It is flat and dull, like someone reading a speech to themselves, and those in the crowd who had hesitated before wandering off shrug and continue on their way. Gandhi is unnerved by it a little but he struggles on louder, but just as colorlessly.
GANDHI: We do not seek conflict. We know the strength of the forces arrayed against us, know that because of them we can only use peaceful means but we are determined that justice will be done!
This last has come more firmly, and he lifts his head to the crowd, as though expecting a reaction. Three or four committed supporters applaud as on cue, but his technique is so inexpert that it draws nothing but blank faces from the bulk of them. He glances nervously at Ba, who is embarrassed for them both now. She wraps her sari more closely around her and her expression is a wife's "I told you so" sufferance, mortification and loyalty, all in one. Gandhi wets his lips again and takes a square of cardboard from his pocket his "pass."
GANDHI: The symbol of our status is embodied in this pass which we must carry at all times, but no European even has to have.
He holds it up. A constable glances at the police sergeant.
GANDHI: And the first step to changing our status is to eliminate this difference between us.
And he turns and drops his pass in the wire basket over the fire.
The flames engulf it.
KHAN (quietly): You write brilliantly, but you have much to learn about handling men.
He takes Gandhi's notes from him, and faces the crowd.
KHAN (the reading not fluent, but firm and pointed): We do not want to ignite . . . the fear or hatred of anyone. But we ask you Hindu, Muslim and Sikh to help us light up the sky . . . and the minds of the British authorities with our defiance of this injustice.
It is the end of the speech. He looks at the crowd. No one knows quite what to do. Gandhi harumphs gesturing to a shallow box Singh holds. Kahn turns back, extemporizing rather lamely.
KHAN: We will now burn the passes of our committee and
its supporters. We ask you to put your passes on the fire with
He has stepped forward with his constables, who have faced the crowd, halting the tentative movements of the few committed supporters toward the fire.
POLICE SERGEANT: Those passes are government property! And I will arrest the first man who tries to burn one!
He is facing the crowd. Behind him, Khan holds himself erect and slowly takes his own card from his pocket. He holds it aloft and then lowers it resolutely into the wire basket. The crowd reacts and the sergeant turns just in time to see it dropped in the flame.
POLICE SERGEANT: Take him away!
He gestures to a constable, who turns from the crowd and marches to Khan, seizing him by the arm and marching him to the paddy wagon. As he passes the sergeant, the sergeant takes his billy club, and faces the crowd, rapping the club menacingly against his hand.
POLICE SERGEANT: Now are there any more?!
Behind him, Gandhi wavers indecisively a moment, then takes the box from Singh and moves to the fire. Ba holds her hand to her mouth terrified. Again the crowd's reaction turns the sergeant. Gandhi is at the fire. For a second, his eyes lock with the sergeant's and then nervously, he takes a card and drops it in the wire basket, and another.
POLICE SERGEANT: You little sammy bastard I
He has leapt across the distance between them, knocking the box from Gandhi's hands, sending the cards flying and shoving Gandhi to the ground. He turns and faces the crowd angrily, pointing the billy club threateningly.
POLICE SERGEANT: You want that kind of trouble you can have it!
Again, a murmur from the crowd turns him. Gandhi, on his hands and knees, blood trickling from his abraded cheek, has picked up a card from the ground and he leans forward apprehensively, his eyes fearfully on the sergeant, but he drops it defiantly in the basket. The sergeant's fury bursts and he slams the billy club down on Gandhi's head. Gandhi sags to the ground. Ba screams. She starts to run to him, but the other women seize her.
BA: Let me go!
She fights loose, but one of the constables takes her firmly.
An instant of hesitation, then Gandhi drops the card into the
basket. The sergeant almost stops, but he strikes again. A quiver of distaste at his own
act crosses his face as Gandhi sags.
GANDHI: You saved the papers.
Ba reaches forth, gently touching the bandages on his head.
BA: I wish you were still struggling for work in Bombay.
Gandhi doesn't take his eyes from the papers, but he shakes his head.
GANDHI: I hated that all the pettiness, the little corruptions. (A reflective grin.) And I was more laughing stock than lawyer.
He smiles whimsically, then turns back to the papers.
GANDHI: But they needed me here. If I'd never been thrown off that train, perhaps no one would ever have needed me.
Ba stares at the back of his head, wounded by that remark, bearing it as stoically as he bore the blows against him.
GANDHI (reading): "A high court judge has
confirmed that Mr. Gandhi would have been within his rights to prosecute for assault since
neither he nor Mr. Khan resisted arrest." I told you about English law.
Before Gandhi can retort there is a knock on the door.
A small, round ayah (an Indian nursemaid) pushes open the door and proudly admits her charges, Gandhi's sons: Harilal (ten), Manilal (six) and Ramdas (two). They are all dressed in European suits, ties and stiff collars. They step forward, one by one, making the pranam (the Hindu gesture of greeting), then bending and touching the hands and lips to Gandhi's feet in the traditional obeisance of child to father.
HARILAL: We are glad to have you back, Bapu.
GANDHI: And I am glad to be back. (He holds his hands out to Ramdas.) Come . . .
And Ramdas runs to him and Gandhi bends to kiss him as Ramdas put his arms around his neck.
BA: Be careful!
Gandhi pats him indulgently, then carefully stands erect, looking at them all with satisfaction.
GANDHI: Tomorrow I will tell you what it feels like to be a jailbird.
The two older boys show the expected apprehension and interest. Gandhi nods to the ayah. She claps her hands smartly.
AYAH: Come. Come.
The boys bow and leave like boys used to household discipline. The ayah closes the door and we hear their chatter at they go down the hall.
GANDHI: Just like proper English gentlemen. I'm proud
Gandhi is stretching out on the bed, taking up another paper.
GANDHI: Hm. Will you take this off (he touches the bandage on his cheek)? It pinches every time I speak.
Ba comes and sits down on the bed beside him, maneuvering so that she can get at the bandage.
GANDHI: Here, you see? Even the South African papers
apologize "a monstrous attack."
Ba pauses and looks at him mischievously, as though that's not a bad idea. He scowls at her, then recognizes her "joke" and grins.
Ba pulls one of the strands of tape and Gandhi flinches.
Gandhi is nursing the moustache; he looks at her wryly.
GANDHI: If you would let me teach you to read, you could see for yourself.
She leans forward to pull at the remaining piece.
BA: I could have told them you were merely foolish.
Gandhi is watching her as she leans across him, her beauty and proximity obviously stirring him.
GANDHI: It proves what I told you. If I had prosecuted him as everyone advised even you they would have hated me by showing forgiveness I ouch!
She has pulled the other piece.
BA: There . . .
And she slowly pries the gauze free from the strands of hair above his lip. As she does Gandhi watches her more and more intently, and slips his arms around her back.
GANDHI (as though continuing the argument): You see there is such a thing as moral force and it can be harnessed.
Ba examines the bandage and gently touches the wound, but she is aware of his burning eyes and arms around her back.
BA: Not always. You have told me twice now that you were giving up the pleasures of the flesh.
It slows Gandhi uneasily for a moment and Ba must grin at his discomfiture. He leans back still holding her, but looking at the ceiling.
GANDHI: I am. I am convinced the holy men are right. When you give up, you gain. The simpler your life the better.
Ba makes a moue of acceptance and starts to pull free of him but his arms still hold her. She smothers a smile and lies down, her face next to his, but neither of them looking at each other. A long beat . . . and then Gandhi turns his head. She is aware of his eyes on her, but she doesn't move. Gandhi leans forward and touches his lips to her neck.
GANDHI: I will fast tomorrow as a penance.
Ba smiles. Still not looking at him, she places her hand behind his head, gently.
BA: If you enjoy it a great deal you must fast for two days.
Gandhi laughs . . . and buries her in love.
TALL CIVIL SERVANT: The London papers have arrived from
the Cape, sir.
The tall civil servant checks his notes.
TALL CIVIL SERVANT: The worst was the Daily Mail, sir. They said, "The burning of passes by Mr. Gandhi was the most significant act in colonial affairs since the Declaration of Independence."
Smuts has given the reins to the stable boy.
SMUTS: Did they? Well, they'll find we're a little better prepared this time. Mr. Gandhi will find he's on a long hiding to nothing.
And he strides into the building, past the smartly saluting
CHARLIE: You'd be Gandhi (Gandhi nods.) .
. . I thought you'd be bigger.
He turns and waves to the parlor window. The three boys are there all bigger and Ba holds a new addition; they all wave. And Gandhi turns back, and starts down the long, hilly street.
GANDHI (to Charlie): Would you care to walk?
He gestures Charlie on and starts walking.
GANDHI (noting Charlie's collar): You're a
FIRST YOUTH: Hey look what's comin'!
Gandhi restrains him and shakes his head.
GANDHI: Doesn't the New Testament say, "If your enemy strikes you on the right cheek, offer him the left"?
He starts to move forward. Charlie hesitates, then follows nervously, more nervous for Gandhi than himself.
CHARLIE: I think perhaps the phrase was used metaphorically . . . I don't think our Lord meant
They are getting closer. The youths laughing, whispering.
GANDHI: I'm not so certain. I have thought about it a great deal. I suspect he meant you must show courage be willing to take a blow several blows to show you will not strike back nor will you be turned aside . . . And when
One youth has flicked his cigarette hard. It lands at Gandhi's feet. He pauses, looking at the youth.
GANDHI: . . . and when you do that it calls upon something in human nature something that makes his hate for you diminish and his respect increase. I think Christ grasped that and I I have seen it work.
He starts forward again, he is almost on the youths clearly frightened, but . . .
GANDHI: Good morning.
And he reaches forth to haul Gandhi from the pavement, but
A WOMAN'S VOICE: Colin! Colin! What are you doing?
A woman is leaning out of an upstairs window, looking down at the fracas disconcertedly. It is the first youth's mother and her presence reduces the pitch of his hostility considerably.
FIRST YOUTH: Nuthing . . . nuthing. We were just cleaning up the neighborhood a little.
A snickering response from the other youths but they are embarrassed by the questioning disapproval of Colin's mother's attitude. There's no note of apology in her cold stare at Gandhi, but she clearly believes her son should not be doing what he is doing.
COLIN'S MOTHER: You're already late for work. I thought you'd gone ten minutes ago.
The moment of crisis has passed. Nothing will happen while she is there. Gandhi steps back on the pavement, addressing the first youth.
GANDHI: You'll find there's room for us both.
And he steps around him, Charlie trailing, as the first youth stares
at them sullenly.
CHARLIE (relieved): That was lucky.
Gandhi laughs as they turn the corner.
A busy street in the center of the town. Gandhi and Charlie come around the corner into it.
GANDHI: . . . you could call it a "communal farm," I suppose. But we've all come to the same conclusion our Gita, the Muslim's Koran or your Bible it's always the simple things that catch your breath "Love thy neighbor as thyself" (He smiles, thinking back at the youths.) not always practiced but it's something we Hindus could learn a lot from.
He has paused before an office and a young girl (Sonja) has come from it to speak to him about something of urgency, but she hovers, not interrupting.
CHARLIE: That's the sort of thing you'll be seeking on
this "farm" . . .
And now he turns to Sonja. Behind her we see the small office "M.K. Gandhi/Attorney." Several clients waits, most of them conspicuously poor. Sonja's tone is loaded with foreboding.
SONJA: They're going to change the pass laws.
Gandhi absorbs the news stiffly.
SMUTS'S VOICE-OVER: It's taken time, but it needed to be done fairly. We didn't want to create an injustice simply because Mr. Gandhi was abusing our existing legislation.
Beneath the signature we see the boldly printed identification: Jan Christian Smuts.
SECOND VOICE: Just one second, sir, please.
Another angle. A cameraman records the moment with a flash photo. General Smuts, whose presence is equal to his office, addresses someone out of shot as a male secretary removes the document.
SMUTS: But on a short trip, I wouldn't spend too much time on the Indian question, Mr. Walker. It's a tiny factor in South African life.
The reporter who stands opposite him is Walker, much, much younger, almost boyish compared to the way we saw him at the funeral.
WALKER (a helpless shrug): It's news at the moment. I will certainly report on your mines and the economy but I would like to meet this Mr. Gandhi.
Smuts has risen. He knows how to concede with grace.
SMUTS: Of course. We Westerners have a weakness for these these spiritually inclined men of India. But as an old lawyer, let me warn you, Mr. Gandhi is as shrewd a man as you will ever meet, however "otherworldly" he may seem. But I'm sure you're enough of a reporter to see that.
The gaze is firm, strong, cynical . . .
GANDHI: . . . so it's not "spiritualism" or "nationalism" we're not against anything but the idea that people can't live together.
They've reached the entrance to the tent, and he gestures in.
GANDHI: You see Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews even Christians.
This last remark has been directed toward Charlie Andrews, who sits near them at a cluttered table, typing on an old typewriter. He waves, and Gandhi shouts out to them all over the putt-putt of the generator:
GANDHI: Mr. Walker! Of The New York Times!
They nod. One of the Hindus bows with his hands clasped together. Gandhi hands Walker a copy of Indian Opinion and they start across the relatively barren field toward some other tents, Walker glancing at the paper. Gandhi watches him, grinning.
GANDHI: Without a paper a journal of some kind
you cannot unite a community. (A teasing smile.) You belong to a very
This carries a weight and apprehension that none of the rest of the conversation has. Walker measures Gandhi with a little surprise.
WALKER: You're a very small minority to take on the Government and the Empire.
Gandhi seems trapped by an ineluctable fact.
GANDHI: If you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.
Reluctant as it is, it too carries commitment and Walker senses it. But they have come by a site where a building is being erected, and a European (Kallenbach) is perched above a doorway on the half-completed structure, getting a level. Some Indians are working below him. Gandhi turns to him, light-hearted again.
GANDHI: This is Mr. Kallenbach. He is our chief carpenter and also our chief benefactor. He has made this experiment possible.
Walker waves his notebook at him and Kallenbach lifts his level in greeting. On his bronzed chest there is a Star of David. Walker looks around, grinning, shaking his head. We see two women in saris trying to quell some squabbling children in the background.
WALKER: Well, it's quite a place, your
"ashram" is that right?
Walker looks at him appraisingly.
WALKER: You're an ambitious man.
A moment of embarrassed doubt, then he starts toward a half-finished building wooden sides, door, but canvas still covering the roof. It has an awning spread before it. Walker's carriage is tethered nearby, a Black driver standing in the sun, waiting. In the background we see two women cleaning a latrine. Walker glances at the latrine.
WALKER: They tell me you also take your turn at peeling potatoes and cleaning the "outhouse" is that part of the experiment?
As we have approached we see a table set for tea under the awning. There are two places. Having set the places, Ba is walking along the side of the building, away from them. She glances at Gandhi tautly and deliberately avoids speaking or acknowledging him.
GANDHI (a little surprised, a little annoyed): Ba we will need another place set for Mr. Walker's driver.
Ba looks at him coldly.
BA: I will tell Sora.
She turns back and walks into the building by the rear entrance. Gandhi is disconcerted by her attitude, but he tries to answer Walker.
GANDHI: It's one way to learn that each man's labor is as important as another's. In fact when you're doing it, "cleaning the outhouse" seems far more important than the law.
A grin but forced. When a girl (Sora) comes from the building bringing another cup and place setting, Gandhi calls to the driver.
GANDHI: Please come and join us you'll need something before your journey back. (He nods to Walker.) Excuse me a moment.
And he goes into the building, determined to find the source of Ba's aloofness.
Ba is sitting sullenly on a carpet near the rear entrance to the building. She does not look up at Gandhi, but she is aware of his presence. He crosses and stands in front of her with all the irritation of a husband. It is hushed, aware that Walker might overhear them, but bristling with suppressed anger.
GANDHI: What is it?
Now Ba looks at him hostilely.
BA: Sora was sent to tell me I I must rake and
cover the latrine.
He holds her gaze as angrily as she holds his.
BA (finally, scornfully): As you command.
As she starts to rise he grabs her arm, but she pulls free.
BA: The others may follow you but you forget, I knew you when you were a boy!
She says it derisively and it stings, but Gandhi is aware of Walker and he fights to hold his temper.
GANDHI: It's not me. It's the principle. And you will do it with joy or not do it at all!
Ba settles back defiantly.
BA: Not at all then . . .
For a moment Gandhi stares at her, and she back at him, resentfully. He suddenly reaches down and grabs her arm, pulling her roughly to her feet.
GANDHI: All right, go! You don't belong here! Go! Leave the ashram! Get out altogether! We don't want you!
It is hushed but violent as he pulls her toward the rear door, opening it to push her out as she struggles against him.
BA: Stop it! Stop it! What are you doing!?
She lurches free of his grip, glaring at him angrily. For a moment they both stare at each other, shattered by their violence.
BA (bitterly): Have you no shame? I'm your wife . . . (Like lead) Where do you expect me to go?
Gandhi stares at her breathlessly, his temper subsiding into a dazed remorse. He sinks numbly to a stool, sitting, holding his head in his hands. Ba studies him for a moment and she sighs, her temper and breathing subsiding too. She moves and kneels before him.
GANDHI: What is the matter with me . . . ?
A moment, then she soothes the top of his head like the mother-wife she is.
BA (a beat): You are human only human.
Gandhi looks up at her, blankly, abjectly.
BA: And it is even harder for those of us who do not even want to be as good as you do.
And Gandhi grins weakly. Ba catches it and sends it back, warmer, less complicated by doubts. Gandhi sighs, putting his arms around her and she leans into him so that their heads are touching.
GANDHI: I apologize . . .
Ba mutters "Hm" and holds him a little firmer. A moment.
GANDHI: I must go back to that reporter.
BA: . . . And I must rake and cover the latrine.
Gandhi holds her back so that he can look at her. She looks at him
evenly no smile, but the warmth still in her eyes.
GANDHI (to the house): I want to welcome you all!
A buzz, then applause loud and defiant. When is subsides Gandhi looks down at the plainclothes policemen, fixing his gaze on them.
GANDHI: Every one of you. (Then, still at them) We have no secrets.
And again the audience bursts into applause. The policemen just sit like stone confident, sure, immune to rhetoric.
GANDHI: Let us begin by being clear about General Smuts's new law. All Indians must now be fingerprinted like criminals. Men and women. (A rising, angry response; Gandhi just waits.) No marriage other than a Christian marriage is considered valid. Under this Act our wives and mothers are whores . . . And every man here a bastard.
In the gallery a rhythmic pounding signals the anger and protest and is taken up around the hall. The police stare imperturbably. Khan leans towards Singh, nodding to Gandhi.
KHAN: He's become quite good at this.
Singh smiles at the understatement. Gandhi holds up his hand, silencing the hall.
GANDHI: And a policeman passing an Indian dwelling
I will not call them homes may enter and demand the card or any Indian woman
whose dwelling it is.
Gandhi just waits.
GANDHI: Understand! He does not have to stand at the door he may enter.
Now a violent response a large, powerful merchant rises in the third row.
MERCHANT: I swear to Allah I will kill the man who offers that insult to my home and my wife! (A guttural cheer; he glares at the police.) And let them hang me!
Another cheer. When it subsides, Tyeb Mohammed rises near the back, where he is seated with a number of other young men.
TYEB MOHAMMED: I say talk means nothing. Kill a few officials before they disgrace one Indian woman then they might think twice about such laws!
The police half rise to look back at him, but there is a smattering of applause and several stand to look back.
TYEB MOHAMMED'S FRIEND: In that cause, I would be willing to die!
And now there is general applause. Gandhi waits, then
GANDHI: I praise such courage. I need such courage because in this cause, I too am prepared to die . . . (A response; he looks at Tyeb Mohammed) But, my friend, there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.
He looks at the audience. This is the more sober Gandhi they have come to know.
GANDHI: I have asked you here tonight because despite all their troops and police, I think there is a way to defeat this law. Whatever they do to us we will attack no one, kill no one . . . But we will not (the climatic point) give our fingerprints not one of us.
He looks down at the police, making the point stick. There is a tentative reaction from the audience, but uncertain.
GANDHI: They will imprison us, they will fine us. They
will seize our possessions. But they cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give
it to them.
He has their attention now.
GANDHI: We will not strike a blow but we will receive them. And through our pain we will make them see their injustice (quickly) and it will hurt, as all fighting hurts! (Utter silence.) . . . But we cannot lose. We cannot. (He looks down at the police.) Because they may torture my body, may break my bones, even kill me . . . (Up to the house) They will then have my dead body not my obedience.
And now he gets the response he has wanted. Firm, mature, determined. Gandhi holds up his hand.
GANDHI: We are Hindu and Muslim children of God, each of us. Let us take a solemn oath in His name that come what may we will not submit to this law.
He looks at the audience. A second, then a merchant stands, signifying his pledge. And then another. Then Tyeb Mohammed and the youths about him. Then all over the theater they begin to stand and on the stage until everyone is standing. It is all done is silence. Gandhi looks at the full theater all standing. He takes a step forward.
GANDHI (a coarse singing): God save our gracious King . . . Long live our (the audience takes it up) . . . noble King. (And their voices fill the auditorium) God save the King!!
A prison door slams: we are close on one face, another slam, another face, and again and again in the rhythm of marching feet . . .
Gandhi, Singh and Tyeb Mohammed are leading a large procession of
Indian mine workers along a dirt road from a mining complex sheds, elevator
platforms, pulleys toward a distant city.
CIVILIAN: These men are contracted laborers. They
belong in the mines.
The civilian smiles slowly. He looks from Gandhi to the miners.
CIVILIAN: I've warned you.
The civilian looks at him sharply, then smiles derisively, signaling the car off. As it pulls away, Tyeb Mohammed and Singh come up to Gandhi, both made wary by the man's evident satisfaction with what has transpired.
SINGH: I don't think that is very good.
Gandhi watches the disappearing car worriedly, then turns and
signals the miners on. They start forward.
SERGEANT: At the canter for-ward!
They come on fast, batons at the ready. Gandhi screws up his
courage, marching on. Tyeb Mohammed sets his jaw in defiance. Singh forces himself along
at Gandhi's side. The mounted police riding on, batons at the ready.
MINER (half to Gandhi): We should lie down the horses won't tramp on us. (Then shouting out) Down! Down! Everyone lie down!
He starts to go down, and others around him, convinced by the
authority of his voice.
GANDHI: Lie down! Lie down!
And the miners begin to go down, some face up, shielding their faces
with their hands, some burying their faces in the earth and covering their heads with
MINER: The horses have more mercy than the men.
Singh smiles, but suddenly looks up fearfully. The sergeant looms over them.
SERGEANT: You're right!
And without taking his booted foot from the stirrup he swings it
into the miner's face. The man goes down, bleeding.
GANDHI: Lie down! Lie down!
It is a command, and angry in its own way, but it carries all the
weight of his influence on them. They begin to go down again and the sergeant wheels his
horse and rides at Gandhi.
SERGEANT: Follow me!
He turns his horse angrily and gallops back toward the factories.
SERGEANT: What the hell are we supposed to do now?
We are close on Charlie Andrews.
CHARLIE: Some of you may be rejoicing that Mr. Gandhi has at last been put into prison.
The congregation is listening to him stiffly, unsympathetically, and there is more than one murmur of assent at his words. The clergyman who has given Charlie the use of his pulpit sits beneath it, embarrassed, but sticking resolutely to his decision to give Charlie a hearing.
CHARLIE: But I would ask you assembled here in this house of God to recognize that we are witnessing something new, something so unexpected, so unusual that it is not surprising the Government is at a loss. What Mr. Gandhi has forced us to do is ask questions about ourselves.
A few men in the congregation rise and pointedly escort their families from the church. Charlie struggles on.
CHARLIE: As Christians, those are difficult questions to answer. How do we treat men who defy an unjust law men who will not fight, but will not comply?
More of the congregation rise and march from the church . . . though a few pointedly do not.
Small, packed. Gandhi is threading his way in a line for soup. But
it is a line that winds through masses of prisoners, some with bowls, eating, some not yet
in the line.
GANDHI: They're sparing no one, I see.
He takes his soup from Khan.
KHAN (acidly): Don't worry about the meat it's Hindu (referring to the soup) there's not a trace.
Gandhi smiles, but they turn as the gate opens and a paddy wagon is backed into the press of prisoners. Khan shakes his head.
KHAN: I don't know who they've left out there to do the
work. There can't be one mine left open. Have they touched the women?
Gandhi looks around the crowded yard at the soiled bandages, the defiant, determined faces.
GANDHI: If we hold firm, it won't be the last.
He is distracted by a phalanx of guards (an officer and four men) pushing their way through the prisoners.
PRISON OFFICER: Gandhi! I want Gandhi! Which sammy is it?
The prisoners are moving back from them resentfully but their glances reveal who Gandhi is. The prison officer's eyes fall on him.
A side street, but active. Gandhi now manacled is
being marched down the pavement before two guards. The prison officer strides in front of
them. People in the street stop and turn, staring. That part of Gandhi that is still the
dandy is discomfited, but there is a growing part of him that defies appearances.
The tall civil servant, moving with aloof distaste for his
assignment, walks ahead of Gandhi, who in turn is followed by one of the prison guards,
toward a grand staircase that is at right angles to them (i.e. facing the front of the
building). People working in offices pause to stare at Gandhi as he moves along, more
uncomfortably aware of his prison garb than ever.
The tall white doors open, the tall civil servant indicates that Gandhi enter. Gandhi passes two male secretaries, and the tall civil servant scoots decorously around him to knock once on the inner doors. Then he pushes them open and gestures Gandhi in.
We have seen it before when Walker spoke to Smuts, but now we see its full breadth and the imposing figure Smuts makes as he stands behind the grand desk.
SMUTS: Ah, Mr. Gandhi. I thought we might have a little talk.
He nods to the tall civil servant, who bows and closes the door. Smuts crosses the room toward a small cabinet.
SMUTS: Will you have a glass of sherry?
Smuts looks at Gandhi, a little surprised at the frigid tone of that refusal.
SMUTS: Perhaps some tea?
He appraises Gandhi, measuring the irony of his words, his determination. Then with a little sigh at the lost opportunity he replaces the stopper on the sherry, turns and gestures Gandhi on into the room.
SMUTS: Please please do come and sit down. It's prison I wanted to talk to you about.
He has indicated a chair near his desk, but as Gandhi goes forward he pauses by a spread of papers from England on a long table near the middle of the room. We see one headline in close shot: "Thousands Imprisoned in South Africa/Mines Close. Crops Unharvested," a subhead, "Gandhi Leads Non-Violent Campaign." He looks at Smuts. Smuts smiles, a passing nod at the papers.
SMUTS: Mr. Gandhi, I've more or less decided to ask the
House to repeal the Act that you have taken such "exception" to.
SMUTS: Hm. Of course it is not quite that simple.
A wry smile, and he sits on the edge of the chair Smuts has directed him to. Smuts measures him again, not absolutely certain how to deal with him. A pause, and he affects to take Gandhi's irony at face value.
SMUTS: I'm glad to hear you say that . . . very glad.
You see if we repeal the Act under pressure (a nod at the papers again) under
this kind of pressure it will create a great deal of resentment. Can you understand that?
And Gandhi does understand it as a guiding principle. Never humiliate your enemy. And his tone conveys it.
SMUTS (a bit surprised): Good. Good. (The
bland politician: the compromise.) I have thought of calling for a Royal Commission
to "investigate" the new legislation. (He gestures, implying they'll do what
they're told.) I think I could guarantee they would recommend the Act be repealed.
Smuts does a slight double take, a smile, then the "tough" politician.
SMUTS: But they might also recommend that future Indian immigration be severely restricted even stopped.
He measures Gandhi challengingly, obviously expecting some contest. Gandhi mulls it, then
GANDHI: Immigration was not an issue on which we fought. It would be wrong of us to make it one now that we we are in a position of advantage.
Smuts stares at him . . . a moment, then
SMUTS: You're an extraordinary man.
And now Smuts smiles with him. He bends suddenly and signs a group of documents.
SMUTS: I'm ordering the release of all prisoners within the next twenty-four hours. You yourself are free from this moment.
Gandhi stands, a little uncertain about the sudden change in his status. Smuts signs the last document, then sees Gandhi's doubt and misreads it.
SMUTS: Assuming we are in agreement?
The tall civil servant (Daniels) enters.
SMUTS: Daniels, would you lend Mr. Gandhi a shilling for a taxi?
DANIELS: I beg your pardon, sir?
Still a little confused, Daniels reaches in his pocket and produces a shilling. He hands it to Gandhi.
GANDHI: Thank you. (To Smuts) Thank you both for a very enlightening experience.
He bows slightly and starts out the door. Daniels immediately starts to accompany him, but Gandhi stops. A beat.
GANDHI (ice): I'm obliged, Mr. Daniels, but I will find my own way out.
And his own steel shows in the oblique reference to the ignominy of
his way in. Daniel bows, and he and Smuts just stare as the uniformed "prisoner"
goes out through the grand doors, past the stunned men in the office to the outer doors
and on to the grand staircase. The prison guard appears in the doorway, looking off in
confusion at Gandhi, then back at the office for guidance. Daniels simply shakes his head
"Let him be."
SMUTS (a shake of the head): He's either a great man or a colossal fraud . . . Either way, I shall be glad to see the last of him.
Ship's siren, military band . . . a jubilant crowd on the pier,
passengers waving to the receiving crowd. A group of First Class passengers, ninety
percent English, look down from the upper deck.
YOUNG ENGLISHMAN: By God, he loves it . . .
Their point of view. A British general is coming down the gangplank accompanied by his ADC. The officer commanding and the Guard of Honor await him.
SECOND ENGLISHMAN: I'm sure he hates it.
The young Englishman glances at him quizzically. The General has taken the salute and moves to inspect the troops to the accompaniment of the military band.
SECOND ENGLISHMAN: Generals' reputations are being made in France today, fighting on the Western Front. Not as Military Governors in India.
He is suddenly aware of a well-dressed Indian half-listening to their conversation. He glances at him and the well-dressed Indian simply nods slightly and moves off a little. The second Englishman grimaces at the young Englishman and looks down again.
SECOND ENGLISHMAN: What the devil's going on back there?
He is looking aft. His point of view.
YOUNG ENGLISHMAN: It must be that Indian that made all
that fuss back in Africa. My cabin boy told me he was on board.
Their point of view.
There has been a little hiatus in those disembarking but now Gandhi has appeared, coming down the gangplank with Ba and the children (grown-up sons now), and three or four people behind them, including the tall figure of Charlie Andrews. But Gandhi is wearing an Indian tunic and sandals and he has shaved his hair except for a central section on the top.
SECOND ENGLISHMAN'S VOICE-OVER: God he's dressed like a coolie! I thought he was a lawyer.
The young Englishman glances back cautiously toward the well-dressed Indian again, then
YOUNG ENGLISHMAN: After he came out of jail he refused to wear European clothes.
Gandhi is smiling, trying to move on, but answering the questions of an Indian journalist.
GANDHI: No, no, I haven't "refused" . . . I I simply wanted to dress the way my comrades in prison dressed.
He speaks with an uncertainty and tentativeness that he had lost in South Africa, patently overwhelmed by the reception. An English journalist catches him as he turns.
ENGLISH JOURNALIST: Will you support the war effort, Mr. Gandhi?
An exuberant woman puts a garland over his shoulders.
GANDHI: I I have demanded rights as a British citizen, it is therefore my duty to help in the defence of the British Empire.
He smiles uncertainly again. As he turns he is face to face with an American reporter.
AMERICAN REPORTER: What are you going to do now that
you're back in India?
An Indian reporter has cornered Ba behind him.
SECOND INDIAN REPORTER: As an Indian woman how could you accept the indignity of prison?
Gandhi half-twists to hear Ba's answer, but his arm is taken by a young Indian (Nehru) in elegant European clothes. Another garland is thrown over his shoulders.
NEHRU: Please, Mr. Gandhi.
Featuring Ba. Offhand, her eyes on Gandhi ahead.
BA: My dignity comes from following my husband.
She joins her hands, acknowledging a garland placed around her
shoulders, and pushes on after Gandhi. Charlie helps to guide her.
NEHRU (he too speaks with an Oxbridge accent): Just a few words then we'll get you to civilization.
He grins. He has guided Gandhi to the first step of the platform. Another garland is wrapped around Gandhi's shoulders, and in some embarrassment, he mounts the platform. There is a great cheer, but in the silence that follows we hear the military band from across the way as the troops prepare to march off. Gandhi looks around at the crowd. Finally he speaks out.
GANDHI: I I am glad to be home. (A little round of applause.) I I thank you for your greeting.
He makes the pranam and starts for the steps. The crowd is
a little disappointed, but they manage a cheer and applause.
A car door slams. The camera pulls back. Nehru has slammed the door of a gleaming Rolls Royce touring car, the top down. He has seated Gandhi in it beside Patel, taking Gandhi's knapsack. An Indian chauffeur rides in front. The crowd still surges around and Gandhi is looking apprehensively back for Ba.
NEHRU: We'll follow with your wife don't worry, everything's arranged.
He grins boyishly, in part to comfort, in part unable to contain his amusement at Gandhi and his evident confusion.
With Gandhi still looking back anxiously, the car pulls off. He finally turns to Patel.
GANDHI: Who is that young man?
There are crowds along the street, and Gandhi in surprise that they are for him waves tentatively. Patel waves too but he eyes Gandhi rather critically.
PATEL: I must say when I first saw you as a bumbling
lawyer here in Bombay I never thought I'd be greeting you as a national hero.
They have come to a main thoroughfare. A crowd still lines the
streets but it is thin and around and between we see groups of desperate poor, parked on
the pavement, staring with blank curiosity at the passing car, but too listless and too
out of touch to move from their little squatters' patches.
PATEL: The new Military Governor of the North West Province was on that ship. Too bad you came back Third Class he might have been impressed by a successful barrister who had outmaneuvered General Smuts.
Gandhi is staring at the street. From his point of view we hold on a gaunt young, aged woman holding a baby wrapped in rags as threadbare as her sari. Another hollow-faced child leans against her.
GANDHI (leadenly): Yes . . . I'm sure . . .
A splendid peacock, its tail fanned in brilliant
display, lords it on a velvet lawn. A woman in a sumptuous silk sari is trying to feed it
crumbs. Behind her, Gandhi's reception is in full spate silver trays, tables
covered in fine linen, Indian servants, a swimming pool, a small fountain, the grounds
filled with Indian millionaires and dignitaries gathered with their wives to meet the new
hero from South Africa.
MRS. NEHRU (wittily): No, I leave practical matters to my husband and revolution to my son . . .
She nods lightly toward Nehru.
NEHRU: Mr. Jinnah, our joint host, member of Congress, and the leader of the Muslim League and Mr. Prakash, who I fear is awaiting trial for sedition and inducement to murder.
Gandhi has bowed to Jinnah, now he looks a little startled at Prakash. Prakash grins and makes the pranam to Gandhi.
PRAKASH: I have not actually pulled a trigger, Mr. Gandhi, I have simply written that if an Englishman kills an Indian for disobeying his law, then it is an Indian's duty to kill an Englishman for enforcing his law in a land that is not his.
Gandhi nods . . .
GANDHI: It is a clever argument; I am not sure it will produce the end you desire.
He meets Prakash's gaze firmly, the first moment we have seen any sign of the Gandhi of South Africa.
JINNAH (testingly): We hope you intend to join
us in the struggle for Home Rule, Mr. Gandhi.
Charlie Andrews touches Gandhi's arm, excusing himself to the others.
CHARLIE: May I? Mohan I would like you to meet someone.
Gandhi bows to the others and is led off to an Indian bishop in full
clerical robes. Behind him we see Patel regaling a small group with some story of court or
NEHRU: He told the press he would support the British
in the war.
Nehru grins slowly, thoughtfully.
NEHRU: I'm not certain . . . But I wouldn't be surprised.
We get a shot of Ba in a gathering of Indian women. She stands listening, seemingly tongue-tied in the sophisticated patter. And we cut to Charlie introducing Gandhi to a man in obvious ill health, but well dressed, looking like the professor, philosopher and elder statesman he is (Gokhale).
CHARLIE: I lied to you, Mohan, when I told you I decided to come to South Africa to meet you. Professor Gokhale sent me.
Gokhale is pleased, Gandhi amused. He bows very respectfully.
GOKHALE: We're trying to make a nation, Gandhi and the British keep trying to break us up into religions and principalities and "provinces." What you were writing in South Africa that's what we need here.
He has offered his hand during this, and Gandhi has helped him from the garden chair he has been seated on, handing him the cane that is resting against it.
GANDHI (a smile): I have much to learn about India. And I have to begin my practice again one needs money to run a journal.
Another grin. Gokhale has started to walk with him, looking at him intently, penetratingly.
GOKHALE: Nonsense. (He turns to Charlie) Go on, Charlie. This is Indian talk we want none of you imperialists.
It is brusque but affectionate; we know he regards Charlie as Gandhi does . . . and Charlie does too.
CHARLIE (a mock threat): All right I'll
go and write my report to the Viceroy.
He still hasn't smiled, but Gandhi and Charlie have.
This is private beautiful and still. Gandhi walks along slowly, taking the pace of the ailing Gokhale.
GOKHALE: Forget your practice. India has many men with
too much wealth it is their privilege to nourish the efforts of the few who can
raise India from servitude and apathy. I will see to it you begin your journal.
He grins self-deprecatingly but Gokhale persists.
GOKHALE: Well, change that. Go and find India. Not what you see here, but the real India. You'll see what needs to be said. What we need to hear.
He pauses and looks at Gandhi and for the first time he smiles. When he speaks his voice is thick with feeling.
GOKHALE: When I saw you in that tunic I knew . . . I knew I could die in peace. (A dying man's command) Make India proud of herself.
His eyes are watery with emotion, but he stares at Gandhi rigidly. Cut to
Indian. Steam. A breed of its own.
Gandhi sits by a window in the dimly lit coach. Ba sleeps on the
seat next to him, another member of the party next to her. Gandhi's solemn eyes are
studying the huddled humanity in the rocking coach. People are sleeping everywhere, some
half-erect on the benches, many on the floor among the bundles and trunks and bedrolls and
baskets. Some have children, some are very old. One old man, sleepless like Gandhi, stares
back at him across the shadowed squalor of the coach; somewhere unseen a crying baby is
soothed by his mother.
Gandhi is carried along in a ceremonial chair borne on the shoulders
of some trotting men. The chair is swathed in flowers, and flowers are being showered on
Gandhi by the running children and the crowd lining the narrow street. Ba and Charlie and
two others are following in a flower-bedecked ox-cart, lost in the mass of people that are
swirling around Gandhi.
As from a train . . . but the shots are varied; some close of
farmers and water buffalo, and ragged children and women in colorful saris carrying pots
on their heads, and some distant of villages as units, one and another and another.
Gandhi's face in the window, he and Ba standing, looking out together, neither speaking. Gandhi writing in the cramped chaos of the Third Class coaches. Gandhi sweeping part of the carriage, making disgruntled passengers move as he tries to bring some cleanliness to their surroundings.
A broad alluvial plain, the river threading through it, purple and gold in the rising sun. The camera races with the train along the river's edge, the reflected sun glimmering on the windows.
The sun is high and the train is stopped by the river. People have
come out of the coaches to cool their heads with the touch of water, to stretch their
Threading like a lighted necklace across the darkness of a vast plain.
Climbing green hills a totally different terrain and again we intercut, this time the train climbing: a boy and buffalo running a huge, crude grinding wheel, train climbing; farmers in terraced fields, train climbing faster and faster . . . until suddenly with a hoot of the whistle and the screech of brakes it stops!
Gandhi is leaning out of a window in a Third Class coach. Ahead of
him other passengers are looking too; some have jumped down.
TROOP LEADER: Clear the way! Get out of the way!
He is swinging his sword, not lethally, but threateningly at the
Indian passengers from the train. His British NCOs are equally angry and deliberately ride
close to the passengers, forcing them back against the train.
The shadow of a train moves slowly along the ground, a sense of tension and foreboding. We hear the engine chugging slowly. The camera lifts. Gandhi and Charlie stand at a window, staring out grimly. Other passengers are looking off too. Ba is seated, staring straight ahead, her face taut, deliberately not seeing what the others are seeing.
Their point of view: On a hill across from the railroad track part of a prison wall is visible. In front of it a thick pole is straddled across two others. From this crude gallows two Indian men hang by the neck. One is in turban and dhoti, the other in a tunic. The sound of the train stopping.
Close shot. Incense rising in shot. The camera pulls back and back.
The incense is burning in a bowl sitting before Gandhi on a make-shift platform set in the
little valley between the train line and the little hill where the Indian men have been
hanged. A small crowd sits in a crescent before him, Ba and Charlie are bent in prayer on
the platform behind him. When the camera comes to rest, the edge of the gallows and a
portion of one of the hanged men is in the frame. We know we are looking from someone's
point of view near the prison wall.
GANDHI (at first distant, as from the hill): I ask you to pray for those who died. (Closer) For the English soldiers . . . (a murmur) who were doing what they thought was right. (Closer) And for the brave terrorists whose patriotism led them to do what was wrong.
The murmur of resistance from the crowd is louder at this. Gandhi shakes his head at the dissent.
GANDHI: It it not my law, it is the law of creation. We reap what we sow. Out there in the fields and in our hearts. Violence sows hatred, and the will to revenge. In them. And in us.
He looks up.
The troop leader, on horseback, is on the hill beside the gallows. The first view of Gandhi on the platform was his. Some of his troops are lined up beside him. He stares down at Gandhi coldly.
Patel lounges in the water on his back, supported by a large air pillow. Nehru sits at the side of the pool in a swimming suit, his feet dangling in the water. Jinnah sits under an umbrella in an elegant white suit, being served tea by one of three or four servants around. Patel spews a fountain of water.
PATEL: I agree with Jinnah. Now that the Americans are in, the war will end soon. The Germans are worn out as it is . . . (he rolls over, facing Nehru) and our first act should be to convene a Congress Party convention and demand independence.
Nehru takes an iced drunk from a servant.
JINNAH: And we must speak with one voice united.
The others assent. Nehru shakes his head wistfully.
PATEL (it reminds him): Ah we should
invite Gandhi. What the devil has happened to him anyway?
A fireman heaps coal into an engine's boiler.
Gandhi and Charlie are riding on the outside of the coach, hanging on through the door, and both enjoying it immensely. Ba, inside the jammed coach, finds it very unfunny. She has a grip on one of Gandhi's arms.
BA (quietly, private): Please! You're being
She grimaces severely and tugs at him.
CHARLIE: No violence, please.
Featuring the roof. And Indian squats right on the edge of the roof above Charlie. He is looking down, offering a hand.
INDIAN (over the sound of the engine): Englishman Sahib!
Charlie, who has been grinning, suddenly looks baffled, not to say appalled.
INDIAN: Come! Come! There is room!
His hand still dangles in offering to the tall Charlie.
FIRST INDIAN (to Charlie): Place the foot on the window.
Featuring Charlie. Hesitatingly, he grips the inside of the window higher, and starts to swing one foot onto the window ledge.
GANDHI (amused, but disconcerted): What are
Gandhi, baffled a second, sees the outstretched hand above them, and
in puckish complicity, helps boost Charlie up.
BA: Charlie! Be careful!!
Close shot. Charlie. His face flat on the roof of the train as his arm is still gripped by the Indian, but his leg is being pulled from behind.
CHARLIE (desperately): Mohan !!
Resume Gandhi and Ba. Gandhi quickly moves to free Ba's hand from
Charlie's leg and almost loses his own grip.
GANDHI: Let go! You'll kill him!
Ba is confused.
GANDHI: Let go! Let go!
With one hand he pries at her grip. In the chaos of instructions
others in the coach are helping Gandhi, and Ba senses she is doing something wrong, but is
still not sure what. She lets go.
FIRST INDIAN: You see most comfortable.
Charlie nods grimly.
BA: Please, God, no!
Featuring Charlie. He looks around at the rest of the passengers on the roof, their bundles and baskets clutched beside them. Their poverty is appalling, but they are all smiling at him, a sense of gaiety made in part by his Englishman's participation in their experience. They must shout over the train.
SECOND INDIAN (grinning): Are you Christian,
Charlie stares at him in surprise.
SECOND INDIAN (explaining obvious): The blood of Christ every Sunday!
He is nodding, smiling, expecting Charlie's understanding. And Charlie gives it somewhat bleakly. Suddenly
GANDHI'S VOICE (alarmed): Charlie!!
The Indians turn. Charlie turns.
Resume Charlie and the Indians.
FIRST INDIAN: It's all right, Sahib! Very safe bend bend!
All the Indians are crouching. Charlie closes his eyes ruefully he's had better ideas than this and he gets as flat as he can.
The train, with passengers clinging to the sides and riding on the top, steams into the tunnel, its whistle sounding.
Black. A glimmer of light, through steam, the whistle echoing.
INDIAN'S VOICE: Pray to God, Sahib! Now is when it is best to be Hindu!
Close shot. Charlie. In a flash of steamy light, staring wide-eyed
at the Indian.
High. Coming into focus is a lighted platform, and as the scene becomes clearer we see figures on the platform and the banner which reads INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS, and we hear the emotional voice of Jinnah at the microphone.
JINNAH (gradually fading in): We were asked for toleration. We were asked for patience. Some gave it and some did not. Well, their war is over! And those of us who supported it, and those of us who refused must forget our differences!
The camera has been moving in; now it jumps to Jinnah in close shot and intercuts with the impact of his fervid delivery on the audience.
JINNAH: And there can be no excuses from the British now! India wants Home Rule! India demands Home Rule!!
And the audience cheers him. Newspaper cameramen crowded around the
platform photograph him. Patel comes forward from the back of the platform, clapping. He
is chairing the Congress. Jinnah bows, taking his notes, gesturing to the auditorium. A
man made for the spotlight, a man loving the spotlight.
PATEL: And let no one question that Mr. Jinnah speaks not just for the Muslims but for all India!
And again the audience cheers and applauds his little coda. He raises his hands, stilling them again.
PATEL: And now I'm going to introduce to you a man whose writings we are all becoming familiar with . . . a man who stood high in the esteem of our beloved Professor Gokhale . . . a man whose accomplishment in South Africa will always be remembered. Mr. Mohandas Gandhi.
Gandhi has already started to come toward the podium. He is greeted with mild applause, but already the convention is performing like a convention now that the spell of Jinnah's major speech has dissipated. As Gandhi reaches the podium, Patel gestures him to it.
PATEL (politely): Your journal has made a great impact.
Gandhi nods to him and acknowledges the residue of applause.
GANDHI: I am flattered by Mr. Patel (His grin.) I would be even more flattered if what he said were true.
He means about the journal.
PATEL (loudly; he is away from the mike): But it's true! I I read it . . . often.
Again Gandhi grins and takes glasses from his sleeve. This is the first time we have seen them. He has one slip of paper with notes on it which he has put on the podium. He puts his glasses on and faces the convention.
GANDHI: Since I returned from South Africa, I have traveled over much of India. And I know I could travel many more years and still only see a small part of it.
On the platform, the whispered politics go on. On the floor of the convention, some listen, some talk of other things.
GANDHI: . . . and yet already I know what we say here means nothing to the masses of our country.
Nehru has turned, having caught that last remark. He touches Patel on the shoulder "Listen."
GANDHI: Here we make speeches for each other and those English liberal magazines that may grant us a few lines.
And now they are beginning to pay attention on the floor of the hall too.
GANDHI: But the people of India are untouched. Their politics are confined to bread and salt.
Jinnah too is listening now aloofly, challengingly.
GANDHI: Illiterate they may be, but they are not blind. They see no reason to give their loyalty to rich and powerful men who simply want to take over the role of the British in the name of freedom.
There is dissent on the floor and on the platform but it is muttered and English "polite." Gandhi goes on.
GANDHI: This Congress tells the world it represents India. My brothers, India is seven hundred thousand "villages" not a few hundred lawyers in Delhi and Bombay. Until we stand in the fields with the millions who toil each day under the hot sun, we will not represent India nor will we ever be able to challenge the British as one nation.
He takes off his glasses and folds them and in silence starts back
toward his place on the platform. A cameraman flashes a picture, and someone begins to
applaud; it is taken up here and there, tepidly. On the platform, the leaders join in
perfunctorily. We see one peasant face (Shukla) which we will come to know
watching from the crowd of outsiders who stand in the doorways.
NEHRU: Have you read his magazine?
An open touring car struggling along the bumpy trail. Nehru drives, four friends as young as he with him, all dressed in the same expensive, British manner.
FIRST FRIEND: This can't be the way!
Nehru is looking a little harassed, from the ragging he is taking and from the ride. The ashram is only half-finished, the ground unworked, the buildings only partially completed and the whole looking like some primitive frontier outpost. They are finally brought to a halt by a goat that is tethered right across the path.
SECOND FRIEND (a mocking quote): Yes, I'm sure this is the direction India is taking.
The others laugh; Nehru suffers.
SECOND FRIEND: To think I almost got excited by Mr. Jinnah when all this was awaiting me.
Nehru has half risen in his seat to address Charlie Andrews, who, walking from one somnolent building to another, has stopped dead at the sight of the car. He carries sheaves of page proofs.
NEHRU: We're looking for Mr. Gandhi!
He looks around the ashram a little dismally.
FIRST FRIEND (drolly, as he climbs out): Come on! I'm anxious to meet this new "force"!
Gandhi sits under a tree, peeling potatoes. Nehru and his friends are sprawled out around him. Beside them, the river; in the background the business of the ashram goes on.
GANDHI: I try to live like an Indian, as you see . . . it is stupid of course, because in our country it is the British who decide how an Indian lives what he may buy, what he may sell. And from their luxury in the midst of our terrible poverty they instruct us on what is justice and what is sedition. (He looks at them, a teasing but mordant grin.) So it is only natural that our best young minds assume an air of Eastern dignity, while greedily assimilating every Western weakness as quickly as they can acquire it.
His smile is sardonic, but genuine, theirs embarrassed and self-conscious.
NEHRU (defensively): If we have Home Rule that will change.
Gandhi has finished the last potato. He glances at Nehru then drops the potato in the bowl. He lifts the pail of peelings to Nehru.
GANDHI: Would you, please?
Nehru in his fine linen suit takes the pail awkwardly. His friends watch with amusement, but they too rise to follow as they head for the kitchen.
GANDHI: And why should the English grant us Home Rule? Here, we must take the peelings to the goats.
He re-directs Nehru toward a trough where two or three goats are tethered, but he keeps right on talking.
GANDHI: We only make wild speeches, or perform even wilder acts of terrorism. We've bred an army of anarchists but not one single group that can really fight the British anywhere.
NEHRU (surprised): I thought you were against fighting.
They have reached the trough.
GANDHI: Just spread it around they like the new peelings mixed with the rotting ones.
Nehru has carefully walked around something distasteful on the ground, now he dumps the peelings along the trough and spreads them "delicately." Gandhi scoops some peelings from the trough to feed a goat that nudges him.
GANDHI: Where there is injustice, I've always believed in fighting. (He looks at Nehru.) The question is do you fight to change things, or do you fight to punish. (His smile.) For myself, I have found that we are all such sinners we should leave punishment to God. And if we really want to change things there are better ways of doing it than by derailing trains or slashing someone with a sword.
He meets Nehru's gaze, and for a moment something deeper than argument passes between them. Then something catches Gandhi's eye. He looks off. Ba stands, watching him, waiting.
BA: The fire is ready.
Gandhi turns. The goat is reaching for his bowl of potatoes. He pushes it away and starts for the kitchen.
GANDHI: You see, even here we live under tyranny.
Nehru grins, captured by Gandhi's seriousness, and his humor. He hasn't moved, and neither have his friends. They watch Gandhi as he carries his bowl of potatoes to Ba.
NEHRU (reflectively): I told you . . .
Gandhi plods on toward the kitchen, carrying the bowl of potatoes.
Clothes are dipped in the brownish water. Ba and an ashramite woman squat by the river, washing clothes. It is long past the monsoons and they have had to come far out in the riverbed to the water. But they are laughing at their task.
BA: But it's the ink that is the most diffic
She stops, because coming along the riverbed toward them is a man (Shukla) who looks as though he has come a long, weary way. His face is gaunt, his little bundle of belongings pathetic. As he nears them, he pauses.
SHUKLA: I am looking for Mr. Gandhi . . .
Shadowed, the end of the day. Gandhi sits cross-legged, watching solemnly as Shukla reaches with his fingers into a bowl to eat. The fingers are thin, half-starved, like the man himself.
SHUKLA: . . . I've wanted to speak to you for a long time.
He looks up at Gandhi almost sheepishly. He does not eat yet, but his hunger is evident. Ba sits at one side in the shadows watching him as intently as Gandhi.
SHUKLA: . . . our crops . . . we can't sell them . . . We have no money . . . but the landlords take the same rent.
His voice is choked and near to tears, resonant with the unspoken
agony his words mean for him and the others like him. He looks at Gandhi nervously for a
moment, then puts the food to his mouth like a man who is starving, and trying desperately
not to show it.
The camera is low, shooting along the track toward the light of an
approaching train. From its distant glow we can see that people line the platform of the
small station, waiting, but we cannot tell how thick the crowd may be.
ENGLISH CAPTAIN: Clear the way there! Get out of the way!
A details of British troops, already on the station, moves in his wake, just as aggressive toward the crowd as he is.
SERGEANT PUTNAM: Sir! Up here!
The sergeant is on the low sloping roof of the station. The captain turns briskly to two of his detail.
ENGLISH CAPTAIN: Give me a leg up, will you!
The two men join hands and the captain is hoisted up with an assist
from Sergeant Putnam. We hear the train stop in the background.
ENGLISH CAPTAIN: What the hell is it, Sergeant?
He is now standing and his face has frozen. It needs no answer from Putnam.
ENGLISH CAPTAIN: Jesus . . . !
He turns his head slowly, his mouth agape at
ENGLISH CAPTAIN (awed, a little frightened):
What the hell is going on?
Featuring Gandhi. He has stepped down from the train. Shukla guides
him, Ba and Charlie a step or two behind. Gandhi moves through the silent crowd, his hands
in the pranam, bowing a little to either side. As he advances, the crowd parts
it is almost eerily silent. As their clothes indicate, the area is Muslim, so some
salaam (a touch of the hand to the forehead) and a few tentatively make the pranam
back to Gandhi as he moves through them. Most of the faces are gaunt and lean. A destitute
ENGLISH CAPTAIN: Who the devil are you?
There is a flicker of recognition, but uncertain. The captain stiffens; a steeling of the will. Another glance at the crowd, this time with an air of outraged authority.
ENGLISH CAPTAIN: Well, whoever you are, we don't want
you here. I suggest you get back on that train before it leaves the station.
It has the cold assurance of a lawyer, and the Captain is a little shaken by it. He glances at Charlie who stands behind Gandhi now, and it makes him all the more uncertain.
ENGLISH CAPTAIN: I don't want any trouble.
He tries to make it severe, but it is a comedown.
GANDHI: I am an Indian travelling in my own country. I see no reason for trouble.
It is firm and there is an edge of assertiveness to it that the Captain doesn't like, but Gandhi's unrelenting stare unnerves him. He glances at Charlie again.
ENGLISH CAPTAIN: Well, there'd better not be.
Again, the empty severity of weakness. He looks around, then turns
and marches off briskly shoving his way through the crowd. "Out of my way, there!
Come on, move!"
The early light of the sun illumines the dwelling. We feature a man in middle age, but one who looks ill and drawn (Meha). He lies on a straw mat.
MEHA: For years the landlords have ordered us to grow indigo, for dyeing the cloth. Always they took part of the crop as rent.
Gandhi sits cross-legged, listening. It is the kind of listening that opens the heart. Behind him a mass of villagers sits stoically, outside the dwelling, waiting while their case is heard. Meha tries to speak unemotionally but under Gandhi's sympathetic gaze his despair keeps cracking through.
MEHA: But now the English factories make cloth for everyone. No one wants our indigo. And the landlords won't take their share. They say we must pay our rent in cash.
Near to breakdown, he gestures around the empty house.
MEHA: What we could, we sold . . . The police have taken the rest. There is no food, we
He cannot go on.
GANDHI: I understand. (He examines his hands a moment.) The landlords are British?
It's a rhetorical question. Meha nods.
GANDHI: What we can do . . . we will try to do.
The words are said bleakly, not to raise false hopes. He glances at Meha's wife. Water comes to her eyes, and she lowers her head. Ba puts her hands on her shoulders and clasps her to her, and the woman breaks, and sobs and sobs . . .
Gandhi rides on an open howdah on an elephant, his mind locked in sober reflection. Shukla shares the howdah with him, but does not dare break Gandhi's black mood.
GANDHI: Is all Champaran like this, Shukla?
It registers with Gandhi but inside. A moment.
CHARLIE'S VOICE: Mohan !
Gandhi shakes himself from his absorption and looks back. Ba and Charlie are mounted on a similar howdah on another elephant, both being led by peasant boys. Charlie is pointing behind them. Coming along the path is a tall Indian policeman on a bicycle. He rides right past Charlie and Ba and comes alongside Gandhi. His attitude is superficially polite, but he is full of righteous authority.
POLICEMAN (he knows): Are you Mr. M. K.
It contains more anger than we have seen him display to anyone but Ba.
A ball is hit. The camera pulls back to reveal a lush, verdant
pitch, white-garbed players, English, a few ladies dressed in First World War fashion
watching under parasols near the clubhouse and in the shade of trees with a few officers
and civil servants, while Indian servants discreetly serve cool drinks.
BATSMAN (to the wicket keeper): Who did you say would be buying the drinks?
The wicket keeper makes a rude, facetious gesture, but as the batsman turns to settle in his crease again
BATSMAN: Oh, no
He has looked up. A car is pulling hurriedly in near the clubhouse,
an officer in it, and people are streaming toward it.
MAJOR: . . . I've got no idea. All I know is there's a
riot or something at Motihari in Champaran, and the whole company is ordered out.
Featuring the batsman and some of the players as they walk across the field toward the car. They know something's up.
BATSMAN (disgusted): God, and it's the best
innings I've had since Oxford.
The batsman "takes" on him facetiously, and we cut to
A small building on a little Anglicized square. It is surrounded by
a milling angry throng of peasants.
CHARLIE (firmly): I wish to see the prisoner, please.
The captain looks at his clerical collar, his English face, his determination.
CAPTAIN (reluctantly): All right, Sergeant.
Charlie moves through the Indian soldiers and up toward the entrance. The captain stares out worriedly over the unruly crowd.
A basement chamber dark, thick-walled and poorly lit. The
camera has panned off a close shot of Gandhi as he turns in his cell at the sound of a
door opening and approaching footsteps. We have seen only his head and shoulders, which
are covered in a shawl.
Reverse on Charlie. He looks down at Gandhi and shakes his head.
CHARLIE (a somber grin): . . . Shades of South Africa.
Close shot. Gandhi. Head and shoulders. He returns the grin, but anger and determination still dominate his mood.
GANDHI: Not quite. They're only "holding me"
until the Magistrate's hearing. Then it will be prison.
And now we see Gandhi in full shot for the first time. He is wearing only a white loincloth, the shawl over his shoulders and sandals the costume he will wear for the rest of his life.
GANDHI: These are my clothes now.
Charlie studies him a moment, and being Charlie, he understands.
CHARLIE (affectionately): You always had a puritanical streak, Mohan.
He grins, and it elicits a little grin from Gandhi.
GANDHI (in a tone of defensiveness): If I want
to be one with them, I have to live like them.
And Gandhi laughs.
GANDHI: I'm sure your legs are quite as handsome as
And again Gandhi laughs. Charlie turns to the guard.
CHARLIE: Couldn't I be let in with the prisoner? I am a clergyman.
The police guard hesitates, and then unlocks the cell.
CHARLIE (a bit puzzled): They're calling you
"Bapu." I thought it meant father.
A little grin, but his mood remains pensive and remote.
CHARLIE: What do you want me to do?
Gandhi looks up his anger, his determination there, but then broken by a hopeless sigh.
GANDHI: I think, Charlie, that you can help us most by taking that assignment you've been offered in Fiji.
Charlie is stunned, and obviously hurt. Gandhi proceeds more gently.
GANDHI: I have to be sure they have to be sure that what we do can be done by Indians . . . alone.
And now Charlie understands. Gandhi smiles; warmth, and sadness. Then he speaks with a determined purposefulness, a friend's trust.
GANDHI: But you know the strategy. The world is full of people who will despise what's happening here. It is their strength we need. Before you go, you could start us in the right direction.
He has taken some scratched notes from under the bedding and handed them to Charlie. Charlie nods. He sighs, and rises slowly.
CHARLIE: I must leave from Calcutta, and soon. You'll have to say goodbye to Ba for me.
Gandhi rises, glancing wryly at the prison walls. He nods.
GANDHI: When I get the chance.
And now he faces Charlie; this is the moment of farewell.
CHARLIE: Well, I
He doesn't know what to say, how to say it. Gandhi meets his eyes a smile that shelters Charlie's vulnerability, returns his love.
GANDHI: There are no goodbyes for us, Charlie. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart . . .
The very English, very steadfast Charlie fights to contain his emotions.
It is packed to overflowing; restless. Gandhi sits in the dock. One
or two sergeants-at-arms are trying to keep order, but it the uneven and menacing chanting
of "Gandhi . . . Gandhi" coming from the mobs outside the courtroom that fills
the atmosphere with threat.
MAGISTRATE (whispered conference): I am going
to clear the courtroom.
The magistrate frowns.
MAGISTRATE (worried, angry): I don't know
where they found the nerve for all this.
We see the front row from his point of view. Two or three Indian journalists and one European.
CLERK: That English clergyman sent a number of telegrams yesterday afternoon. I understand one of them even went to the Viceroy.
The magistrate receives that news with some alarm. He indicates that
the clerk take his place.
MAGISTRATE: You have been ordered out of the province on the grounds of disturbing the peace.
GANDHI (defiantly): With respect, I refuse to go.
The magistrate stares. The journalists write. The clerk swallows.
MAGISTRATE (sternly): Do you want to go to
The clerk lowers his eyes to his pad. The magistrate searches the distant wall, the top of his desk, his twitching hands for an answer. Finally
MAGISTRATE (as much sternness as he can muster):
All right. I will release you on bail of one hundred rupees until I reach a sentence.
Again the magistrate stares. And so do the journalists. The magistrate wets his lips
MAGISTRATE: Then I I will grant release without bail until I reach a decision.
And now the court explodes. In the chaos of cheering and delight,
the magistrate rises, looks around the room and heads for his chambers.
Gandhi steps down from the courtroom to the balcony. A huge cheer comes up from the massed peasants below. As he smiles down at them, he is turned by
A VOICE: Gandhiji! Gandhiji! Mr. Gandhi!
Four young Indians elegantly dressed in English clothes are following him, having plunged through the crowd in the courtroom. A beat and the first young man addresses him over the chaos.
FIRST YOUNG MAN (his accent is as refined as his clothes): Gandhiji we are from Bihar. We received a cable this morning from an old friend who was at Cambridge with us. (A smile.) His name is Nehru and I believe you know him.
Gandhi reacts with surprise and caution.
Again Gandhi is surprised but even more cautious. Behind him, the crowd begins to chant "Gandhi Gandhi."
GANDHI: I want to document, coldly, rationally, what is
being done here. It may take months many, many months.
It sounds casually ironic, but they look determined, even angry.
GANDHI: You will have to live with the peasants. (They nod.) I have nothing to pay you. (They only smile.) Hmm.
He is looking at them with a soupçon of scepticism but he is beginning to smell victory. His name echoes around him and is taken up even louder as the news spreads to the street.
Almost total silence. The room is long, large and imposing hardwood floors, overhead fans, an aura of wealth and permanence. Footsteps pace its acres of space . . . and Sir George Hodge comes into frame. He is rich, middle-aged, Tory and at the moment feeling impotent and harried.
SIR GEORGE: I don't know what this country is coming to!
The Governor, Sir Edward Gait the portrait of the King prominent behind him is feeling as cornered as Sir George but for different reasons. His desk is arrayed with several tall stacks of folders all with exactly the same covers and on one corner of the desk, some folded newspapers. We can just read "Gandhi" in a headline. He taps one of the folders irritably with his hand.
SIR EDWARD: But good God, man, you yourself raised the rent simply to finance a hunting expedition!
Sir George looks at him half defensive, half defiant. They are old friends the same school, the same social class, long together in India and their argument is an argument between friend who accept the same premises. But even so the Governor feels the game has not quite been played fairly.
SIR EDWARD: And some of these others (he gestures to the folders again) beatings, illegal seizures, demanding services without pay, even refusing them water! In India! . . .
Sir George is staring out of the window, vexed, bristling but defensive.
SIR GEORGE: Nobody knows what it is to try to get these
people to work!
He picks up one of the papers irritatedly, the London Daily Chronicle.
SIR EDWARD: "One lone man marching dusty roads armed only with honesty and a bamboo shaft doing battle with the British Empire." (He lowers the paper dismally; then the ultimate bitterness) At home children are writing "essays" about him.
Sir George looks at him and sighs heavily. Sir Edward stares back, then drops the paper back on his desk.
SIR EDWARD: I couldn't take another two years of him to save my life.
Sir George turns, and paces back toward him. For the first time we see Sir Edward's personal secretary (a male civil servant) sitting at a small desk and listening with highly developed unobtrusiveness.
SIR GEORGE: What do they want?
It is the first sign of concession. Sir Edward lifts his eyes to his personal secretary.
PERSONAL SECRETARY (reading precisely from a document): A rebate on rents paid. (Sir George huffs.) They are to be free to grow crops of their own choice. A commission part Indian to hear grievances.
Sir George looks from him to Sir Edward. A beat.
SIR GEORGE (wearily): That would satisfy him?
. . .
Sir George looks at the document on the secretary's desk. A moment. The secretary turns it slowly so it is facing him. Sir George looks at it like a snake. The secretary picks up a pen and offers it. A second, then Sir George takes the pen and signs angrily.
SIR GEORGE: It will be worth it to see the back of him. (A flourish at the end of his signature, then he stands.) We're too damn liberal.
Sir Edward is at the liquor cabinet.
SIR EDWARD: Perhaps. But at least all this has made the Government see some sense about what men like Mr. Gandhi should be allowed, and what they should be denied.
He turns, offering Sir George a whiskey in a finely cut glass of crystal.
SIR EDWARD (firmly): Things are going to change.
Jinnah moves from under the portico. His shining, expensive car is coming in the drive and stops by him. He opens the back door, but only the chauffeur is in the car.
JINNAH (in annoyance): Where is Mr. Gandhi?
Jinnah closes the door and looks across at the entrance in exasperation.
JINNAH: The Prophet give me patience.
It's a disdainful comment and he drives the car off toward the
JINNAH (with effort): My house is honored.
Gandhi grins, dismissing the formality.
GANDHI (he makes the pranam): The
honor is ours. May I introduce Mr. Kallenbach. He's an old friend (anticipating
Jinnah's objection) and his interest is in flowers. I presumed to tell him he could
wander your gardens while we talked.
It is spacious, "English." At the door, Jinnah introduces Gandhi to the room.
JINNAH: Gentlemen the hero of Champaran.
Again Gandhi grins at the extravagance.
GANDHI: Only the stubborn man of Champaran.
A polite little laugh; Jinnah introduces him.
JINNAH: Mr. Patel you know. (Patel bows.) Mr. Maulana Azad a fellow Muslim . . . recently released from prison.
Gandhi makes the pranam, studying him with interest after that comment. Azad gives a gentle salaam.
JINNAH: Mr. Kripalani. (A bow we have seen him at the Congress Conference.) And of course you know Mr. Nehru.
GANDHI (a play on Jinnah's introduction): I am beginning to know Mr. Nehru.
PATEL (to business: Gandhi has been admitted to the power circle, he is not the power): Well, I've called you here because I've had a chance to see the new legislation. It's exactly what was rumored. Arrest without warrant. Automatic imprisonment for possession of materials considered seditious . . .
He looks at Gandhi.
PATEL: Your writings are specifically listed.
Gandhi nods at the "compliment," but they are all angered by the severity of it.
KRIPALANI: So much for helping them in the Great War .
Again the temper of it produces a little silence. Then
NEHRU: I don't think so.
He moves to a servant who stands, holding a large tray with a silver service of tea. Of them all, Nehru's manner is the most naturally patrician and Jinnah watches him with a somewhat envious awareness of it.
NEHRU: Terrorism would only justify their repression. And what kinds of leaders would it throw up? Are they likely to be the men we would want at the head of our country?
His stand has produced a little shock of surprise. Holding his tea, he turns to Gandhi with a little smile.
NEHRU: I've been catching up on my reading.
He means Gandhi's of course. Jinnah looks at the two of them. Gandhi has removed his sandals and is sitting cross-legged on a fine upholstered chair. Jinnah's eyes rake him with anger and distaste.
JINNAH (coldly): I too have read Mr. Gandhi's
writings, but I'd rather be ruled by an Indian terrorist than an English one. And I don't
want to submit to that kind of law.
They all look at him with some surprise. As he speaks, he rises and walks to the servant.
GANDHI: I am with Mr. Jinnah. We must never submit to such laws ever. And I think our resistance must be active and provocative.
They all stare at him, startled by his words and the fervor with which he speaks to them.
GANDHI: I want to embarrass all those who wish to treat us as slaves. All of them.
He holds their gaze, then turns to the immobile servant and with a little smile, takes the tray from him and places it on the table next to him. It makes them all aware that the servant, standing there like an insensate ornament, has been treated like a "thing," a slave. As it sinks in, Gandhi pours some tea then looks up at them with a pleading warmth first to Jinnah.
GANDHI: Forgive my stupid illustration. But I want to change their minds not kill them for weaknesses we all possess.
It impresses each one of them. But for all his impact, they still take the measure of him with caution.
AZAD: And what "resistance" would you offer?
"Prayer and fasting"? They are not overwhelmed.
JINNAH: You mean a general strike?
Patel is the first to recognize the implications.
PATEL: My God, it would terrify them . . .
The idea has caught hold. As the others talk of "papers," "telegrams," "speeches," Jinnah looks over his cup at Gandhi with an air of bitter resignation, but he tries to make light of it.
JINNAH: Perhaps I should have stayed in the garden and talked about the flowers.
A garden party in full imperial splendor. A military band plays
discreetly in the background. Princes, maharajahs, generals, ranking British civil
servants and their ladies taking tea on the manicured lawns among the exotic flowers. But
over all there is a thread of anxiety, we pick up one or two nervous phrases: "At the
West Gate there were no taxis at all!," "Of course, the Army will always be
loyal." And the camera picks out a civil servant stepping from a door of the palace
carrying a sheaf of telegrams and cable forms.
ADC: Sir it's Mr. Kinnoch.
Lord Chelmsford turns expectantly.
His firmness doesn't restore Kinnoch's normal aplomb. He holds the telegrams forward.
KINNOCH: No, sir Karachi, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore. It's, it's total.
He glances at the general.
KINNOCH (the ultimate): The Army had to take over the telegraph or we'd be cut off from the world.
That takes the wind out of all of them. Grimly, Lord Chelmsford looks out across the palace's ordered lawns and gardens.
CHELMSFORD: I can't believe it . . .
A prison door opens. Gandhi, in prison clothes, is led along a small corridor to a room. The door is held open by a prison guard.
Nehru waits for Gandhi. He rises when Gandhi enters. The guard signals Gandhi to a chair across a small wooden table from Nehru. The guard closes the door, but remains in the room. Nehru's face is a map of concern, but he manages a small smile of greeting.
NEHRU: Bapu . . .
Gandhi, who also looks worn, rises his eyebrows whimsically at the use of that name.
GANDHI: You too . . .
He means "Bapu" "Father."
NEHRU (a real smile, but the same affection): It seems less formal than "Mahatma."
Gandhi sighs, and their faces and minds go to more somber matters.
NEHRU: Since your arrest the riots have hardly stopped. Not big but they keep breaking out. I run to stop them . . . and Patel and Kripalani they are never at rest. But some English civilians have been killed, and the Army is attacking crowds with clubs and sometimes worse.
Gandhi has listened to it all with a growing sense of despair.
GANDHI: Maybe I'm wrong . . . maybe we're not ready
yet. In South Africa the numbers were small . . .
The golden dome of the Temple fills the screen, shimmering. The sound of a car, and marching feet. The camera pulls back from the dome, revealing the rooftops, the trees and then suddenly, center of frame, the face of General Dyer blunt, cold, isolated in a cocoon of vengeful military righteousness. He is traveling slowly, steadily in an armored car at the head of fifty armed sepoys Gurkhas and Baluchis immaculate, precise, awesome. Behind them a staff car with Dyer's English ADC and a British police officer. It is a relentless, determined procession, filling the dusty street with a sense of menace and foreboding.
A large public garden, enclosed by a thick, old, crumbling wall. A
large crowd is gathered around a speaker on a platform at one side of the park. It is
political, but the crowd is mixed. We see Muslims and Hindus, many of them Sikhs, old men,
little children, women with babes in arms. Some donkey carts, a sense of fair-time gaiety.
SPEAKER: . . . England is so powerful its army and its navy, all its modern weapons but when a great power like that strikes defenceless people it shows it brutality, its own weakness! Especially when those people do not strike back. (He holds aloft the clenched journal.) That is why the Mahatma begs us to take the course of non-violence!
General Dyer, his armored car, his sepoys, moving toward the gate.
Dyer looks ahead calmly.
SPEAKER: . . . If we riot, if we fight back, we become the vandals and they become the law! If we bear their blows, they are the vandals God and His law are on our . . . (He glances up.) side.
Long shot his point of view. The two platoons of sepoys,
rifles at the port, trot smartly through the gate and fan out on either side of the
motionless and dominant figure of Dyer.
SPEAKER (soldiering on): . . . We must have the courage to take their anger . . .
Medium close the sepoys and Dyer. He issues his commands in a quiet and unemotional voice, as though they were on maneuvers.
DYER: Port arms, Sergeant Major.
The sergeant major issues the command. The troops port arms.
Again, the sergeant major barks the command, the bolts slam back and
forth, the magazines clatter.
SPEAKER (almost to himself as he too is riveted): . . . Our pain will be our victory.
Their point of view. The distant figures facing them.
ADC: Do we issue a warning, sir?
It is final.
DYER: Sergeant Major
Long shot over the sepoys and their sights, the wavering crowd distant.
Flash shot along the line of sepoys; the rifles jerk and bang. The crowd, running, screaming.
SERGEANT MAJOR: Reload!
A dreadful press of panic-stricken people flying toward the walls.
And again the crash of rifles. Some fall. Others run off-screen in an aimless,
DYER: Take your time. Take your time.
He looks off at the crowd. His eyes narrow.
He nods. The corporal looks.
He directs the attention of his neighbors in the firing line toward
the new target; they shift their aim.
Silence. The camera is close as it crosses a table with legal
documents. Gradually we hear a muffled cough, whispers, shuffled papers, and it at last
comes to a large close shot of General Dyer.
ADVOCATE: General Dyer, is it correct that you ordered your troops to fire at the thickest part of the crowd?
Dyer glances woodenly at the panel a man in some shock at the consequences of what he assumed was an act worthy of praise.
DYER (righteously): That is so.
The Advocate looks at him with a degree of disbelief more at his attitude than his statement.
ADVOCATE: One thousand five hundred and sixteen casualties with one thousand six hundred and fifty bullets.
A slight reaction from the public section. Dyer's jaw tightens.
DYER: My intention was to inflict a lesson that would have an impact throughout all India.
He stares at the panel like a reasonable man making a reasonable point. The evasiveness, the only half-buried embarrassment of their response only deepens his own withdrawal into himself.
INDIAN BARRISTER: General, had you been able to take in the armored car, would you have opened fire with the machine gun?
Dyer thinks about it. Then unashamedly
DYER: I think, probably yes.
A muted reaction from the public section. The Indian barrister stares at him a moment, then simply lowers his eyes to his notes.
HUNTER: General, did you realize there were children
and women in the crowd?
For the first time there is the hint of uncertainty in his manner.
ADVOCATE: But that was irrelevant to the point you were
There is just a tremor of distaste quickly suppressed among the panel. Not so quickly in the public section.
ADVOCATE: Could I ask you what provision you made for the wounded?
Dyer looks at him quickly. The question is unexpected, even a little "clever." The officers listening clearly resent it.
DYER (a moment, then firmly): I was ready to help any who applied.
And that answer stops the Advocate. He smiles dryly.
ADVOCATE: General . . . how does a child shot with a 3-0-3 Enfield "apply" for help?
Dyer faces him stonily, a seed of panic taking root deep in his gut.
Quiet: the same silence as at the Court of
Inquiry. The camera is panning slowly along a section of the wall. We are close and see
the bullet holes, the patches of splashed blood, the scratches where fingers have dug at
the surface of the wall to claw a path to safety . . . And finally the camera comes to a
close shot of
The imposing capitol building of the British Raj in India. We establish then cut into
Featuring the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford.
CHELMSFORD: You must understand, gentlemen, that His Majesty's Government and the British people repudiate both the massacre and the philosophy that prompted it.
Chelmsford is pacing along one side of a large conference table.
Just in front of this is the "British" side two generals (a full general
and a brigadier), a naval officer, two senior civil servants, a senior police officer.
Across from them is the "Indian" side: Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Jinnah, Azad. This
time Gandhi is in the middle and speaks with the full authority of a leader.
CHELMSFORD: What I would like to do is to come to some
compromise over the new civil legis
It is spoken with the cold determination of a man still angry. It stops Chelmsford in mid-pace.
GANDHI: We think it is time you recognized that you are masters in someone else's home. (It chills, stiffens; Gandhi proceeds only an iota softer) Despite the best intentions of the best of you, you must, in the nature of things, humiliate us to control us. General Dyer is but an extreme example of the principle. It is time you left.
The British are stunned almost to speechlessness the audacity, the impossibility of it and from Gandhi of all people. The senior civil servant, Kinnoch, is the first to recover.
KINNOCH: With respect, Mr. Gandhi, without British
administration, this country would be reduced to chaos.
Gandhi and the others just look at him.
CHELMSFORD: Even if His Majesty could waive all other considerations, he has a duty to the millions of his Muslim subjects who are a minority in this realm. And experience has taught that his troops and his administration are essential in order to keep the peace.
He has deliberately if delicately caught the eye of both Jinnah and Maulana Azad during this. Gandhi knows the trouble this can cause and he answers more for those on his side than the Viceroy's.
GANDHI: All nations contain religious minorities. Like other countries, our will have its problems. (Flat, irrevocable) But they will be ours not yours.
Its finality is such that for a moment there is no response at all, but then the General smiles.
GENERAL: And how do you propose to make them yours? You don't think we're just going to walk out of India.
His smile flitters cynically on the mouths of the others on his side.
GANDHI: Yes . . . in the end you will walk out. Because one hundred thousand Englishmen simply cannot control three hundred fifty million Indians if the Indians refuse to co-operate. And that is what we intend to achieve peaceful, non-violent, non-co-operation.
He looks at them all, then up at Lord Chelmsford behind them.
GANDHI: Until you yourself see the wisdom of leaving . . . your Excellency.
Close shot a crystal decanter. The top is lifted, whiskey
GENERAL (mocking his exchange with Gandhi): "You don't just expect us to walk out?" "Yes."
And they all laugh.
BRIGADIER: Extraordinary little man! "Nonviolent, non-co-operation" for a moment I almost thought they were actually going to do something.
There are some smiles, but not all of them are quite so amused.
CHELMSFORD (thoughtfully): Yes but it would be wise to be very cautious for a time. The Anti-Terrorist Act will remain on the statutes, but on no account is Gandhi to be arrested. Whatever mischief he causes, I have no intention of making a martyr of him.
It is an instruction they all find correct.
A roar of approval from a huge crowd. We are featuring two British
soldiers, their faces partially lit by a flickering torch light that reveals their tense
BA (simple, direct): . . . but now something worse is happening. When Gandhiji and I were growing up, women wove their own cloth. But now there are millions who have no work because those who can buy all they need from England. I say with Gandhiji, there is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness.
It is the end of her speech and she makes the pranam and
turns away. There is applause and noise, but Ba does not acknowledge it; she simply sits
cross-legged behind Gandhi, who is talking with Patel and Nehru. At last he rises, and the
noise and applause increase to something like chaos.
GANDHI: My message tonight is the message I have given to your brothers everywhere. To gain independence we must prove worthy of it.
We intercut with the crowd, listening raptly. Gandhi holds up one finger.
GANDHI: There must be Hindu-Muslim unity always. (A second finger.) Secondly, no Indian must be treated as the English treat us so we must remove untouchability from our lives, and from our hearts.
Neither of these goals is easy, and the audience reaction shows it. Now Gandhi raises a third finger.
GANDHI: Third we must defy the British.
And the crowd breaks into stamping and applause. Gandhi lets it run for a time, then stills it with the one small gesture as before.
GANDHI: Not with violence that will inflame their will, but with firmness that will open their eyes.
This has sobered the audience somewhat. Now he looks out across them as though seeking something. Then
GANDHI: English factories make the cloth that makes our poverty. (A reaction.) All those who wish to make the English see, bring me the cloth from Manchester and Leeds that you wear tonight, and we will light a fire that will be seen in Delhi and London!
There is an excited stir; he silences it.
GANDHI: And if, like me, you are left with only one piece of homespun wear it with dignity!
Close shot the ground. As suitcoats, shirts, vests, trousers, are flung into a
The small train station near the ashram. Kallenbach stands by a new
(early 1920s) Ford touring car, watching as a train pulls into the station.
PATEL: Excuse me just let me get out of your way, please. (Someone reaches for his bedroll and bag.) No, thank you, I'll manage.
He looks up; it is Kallenbach who is the insistent "helper."
PATEL (joyous it's been a long time): Ah, Herman! (Of the bags) No, no don't destroy my good intentions. I'm feeling guilty about traveling Second Class.
Kallenbach is smiling too. He reaches for the bags again.
KALLENBACH: I do it as a friend and admirer
not a servant.
And grandly, he relinquishes the bags and looks back.
PATEL: Maulana is made of sterner stuff. Our trains met in Bombay, but he's back there in that lot somewhere.
Their point of view. In the chaos of the Third Class we see Maulana Azad coming out of a section of the coach. He is carrying a baby wrapped in rags. The child's mother with two little ones hanging on her has followed him out.
PATEL'S VOICE-OVER: There he is out Gandhi-ing Gandhi.
Azad hands the woman the baby and she obviously thanks him. He makes
a little salaam to her and moves through the confusion of the platform toward the camera.
PATEL (shaking his head at it all): When I
think what our "beloved Mahatma" asks, I don't know how he ever got such a hold
over us. Is he back?
Azad approaches them.
AZAD (to Patel): It was a Hindu child and it tried to wet on me.
He and Kallenbach clasp with their free hands, both grinning.
PATEL: Of course. A Muslim beef eater I'm only
surprised he missed.
And the camera pans with their glances at they look back with real
interest toward the First Class coach.
PATEL: And what does the daughter of an English admiral
propose to do in an ashram sink us?
Patel grins. Like most witty men, he loves wit in others.
KALLENBACH: She wants to make her home with us and Gandhiji has agreed.
Patel groans. They turn back to the train and just as they do, the tall Indian woman in the red sari tips a porter, taking one small bag from him and turns: Mirabehn (Madeleine Slade) is tall, quite pretty and extremely English despite the sari. The minute she turns, she stops on seeing the now startled Kallenbach.
MIRABEHN: You'd be Mr. Kallenbach.
Kallenbach recovers sufficiently to
KALLENBACH: . . . And you would be Miss Slade.
The word means "daughter." Patel and Azad stare at each other in something like bafflement.
An ox labors along in harness. We follow him for a moment, then move along the traces of the harness to the Ford touring car that it is pulling. In the car Kallenbach and Mirabehn sit in the front seat, Patel and Azad in the back.
KALLENBACH (of the car): It was a gift and it only worked a few weeks, but when Gandhi came home he struck on this idea. He calls it his ox-Ford. Comfortable and yet more our pace.
He does what little steering is necessary and Mirabehn smiles at it all, finding everything delightful. She peers ahead in the direction of the distant ashram.
MIRABEHN: Might Mr. Nehru be there too?
Mirabehn has turned to look at him. She has the same sophomoric eagerness and intensity as the young Gandhi.
MIRABEHN: You can't know how closely we follow your
struggle (to Patel personally) how many in England admired what you did in
Bardoli. It must have taken enormous courage.
Mirabehn is enthralled by the wit, the modesty that underlines the words. She faces Kallenbach.
MIRABEHN (a note of wonder): And you're German
. . .
She thinks she does, and that he would want to.
It surprises, but it doesn't deflate.
MIRABEHN: But you've been with him so long why?
Kallenbach, whose size and stillness carry the aura of some great piece of primitive sculpture solid, true, disturbingly profound searches inside himself for the answer.
KALLENBACH: . . . I'd come to believe I would never meet a truly honest man. And then I met one.
It is so profoundly simple and deeply felt that it obviously touches the deeply emotional Mirabehn.
Ba has a spinning wheel on the small porch and Gandhi is sitting next to her with another. He is trying to imitate her action which is fast and dexterous and he gets in a terrible jumble. Ba watches, laughing.
BA: Stop stop . . .
She leans across and tries to extricate his fingers.
BA: God gave you ten thumbs.
And Ba laughs again and Gandhi smiles, tapping her with playful reproval on the top of her bent head. There are footsteps and Gandhi looks up. Patel stands in the doorway. Gandhi's face changes to something like elation. A beat.
GANDHI: Sardar . . .
It means "leader" and it is the name the peasants have
given Patel. Gandhi uses it with an intonation of novelty and respect. He stands and
crosses to Patel, clutching him emotionally, and it brings a bit of emotion from the
GANDHI: What you've done is a miracle. You have made all India proud.
Patel gets hold of himself, and affects his usual glib cynicism.
PATEL: It must have been the only Non-violent campaign
ever led by a man who wanted to kill everybody every day.
He smiles again, then, his arm still around Patel's shoulder, he turns to greet the others. Azad looks at him, then facetiously, as though to put down Patel.
AZAD: He came Second Class.
Gandhi laughs again, squeezing Patel's shoulder.
GANDHI: Well, we can't expect miracles all the time. (Then to Azad, more soberly) Your news I understand is not so good.
Azad shakes his head.
Gandhi reaches forward and touches his hand, and he sees Mirabehn on the porch. For a moment their eyes meet and then Mirabehn moves forward quickly and takes his hand, kissing it, tears running down her cheek. Gandhi touches the top of her head.
GANDHI: Come, come you will be my daughter . . .
The camera is on a row of sandals by the door Patel's, Azad's, Desai's, Gandhi's. It pans to the room. Gandhi sitting facing Patel and Azad, Desai in the background, making notes of the discussion. Gandhi is carding fiber to thread as they talk. Mirabehn, seated like the others, is almost in the circle, sitting near Ba, and listening like her. Ba's spinning never stops.
AZAD: . . . but then some rioting broke out between Hindus and Muslims violent, terrible . . .
Gandhi looks up at Azad, Azad shakes his head solemnly
AZAD: Whether it was provoked . . . (he shrugs, a hint of suspicion). But it gave them an excuse to impose martial law throughout Bengal. (He looks at Gandhi, shaking his head grimly.) Some of the things the military have done . . .
But he does not go on. It has a terrible sobriety.
GANDHI: Is the campaign weakening?
Azad shakes his head.
AZAD: The marches and protests are bigger if anything but with the censorship here (a nod toward Mirabehn) they know more in England than we do, and it saps the courage to think you may be suffering alone.
Gandhi reaches out and touches his hand.
GANDHI: They are not alone. And martial law only shows how desperate the British are.
He holds Azad's eyes, giving strength. Then he turns to Mirabehn, made more aware of her by Azad's reference. For a moment he looks at her sari.
GANDHI: Is that homespun? Or cotton from Leeds?
The tone suggests he thinks it is homespun. Mirabehn nods, a little choked that his attention is turned to her.
MIRABEHN: I I sent for it, from here. I dyed it myself.
Gandhi smiles approvingly. Then a shadow
GANDHI: What do the workers in England make of what we're doing? It must have produced hardship.
MIRABEHN: It has. But you'd be surprised. They
understand they really do. It's not the workers you have to worry about.
Mirabehn nods and looks resignedly at Ba. Ba is spinning. She smiles.
BA: First lesson: To march, wear shoes, to spin, do not.
Mirabehn looks down at the shoes on her feet and then at the others and their bare feet and she looks up in grinning, self-conscious embarrassment. Ba smiles at her affectionately.
BA: I'll teach you all our foolishness, and you must teach me yours.
Mirabehn looks at her, accepting the warmth behind the teasing. It is the beginning of an enduring friendship.
A small town. Featuring the faces of six Indian police constables as a torch light parade passes them. There are enough of them in their group to be watching the marchers with a challenging disdain. The marchers are men in loin-clothes and tunics; they brandish torn and ripped English cloth and shout in unison.
MARCHERS: Home Rule! Long live Gandhi! Buy Indian! Long live Gandhi!
We have cut to the parade and it is the tail end, going around a corner ahead. Some of the marchers wave their cloth tauntingly at the police. One policeman suddenly steps out and grabs at a piece of cloth waved at him. He pulls it viciously from the marcher.
POLICEMAN: I'll stuff your damn mouth with it!
He chases the marcher and boots him with his foot. Another marcher runs at the policeman, swinging at him with his piece of cloth.
SECOND MARCHER: Leave him alone he wasn't harming you!
Another angle sudden. He is whacked across the face with a
billy club and falls, clutching his face and spouting blood from his nose.
TAIL-ENDERS: Help! Help us!
as they try to scramble away from the attack. Out of shot we can still hear the disappearing chant: "Home Rule! Long live Gandhi!"
The parade is on this street. A tail-ender, blood streaming down his
face, runs around the corner.
TAIL-ENDER (screaming): Help! Help us!
Another angle. Some of the marchers turn at the shout.
A few of the tail-enders watching, some running clear of the police,
some being beaten.
Their point of view. The corner where the parade has disappeared. It
is now packed with more marchers, more flooding in from behind.
THE POLICE STATION. EXTERIOR. NIGHT.
A small building for this small town. A policeman on duty holds the
door and the fleeing police, first one, then two more, then the last three, run into the
Close shot Gandhi. His face drawn, stunned, as he stares emptily at the floor. He is sitting on the carpet in the center of the room. A moment of silence and then we begin to hear the tick of a clock, the sounds of others moving in the room, and finally
PATEL'S VOICE: That's one bit of news they haven't censored.
Another angle. Patel leans with one arm on a table, his mood as devastated as Gandhi's; he is looking at an Indian paper on the table by his hand. A moment then
JINNAH'S VOICE: Oh, it's all over the world . . . (ironically) India's "non-violence."
He has been standing, looking out of a window. He turns, and tosses
a newspaper on a desk. It is a New York Times and we just glimpse the picture of
the severed head lying in the smoldering ashes.
NEHRU (bleakly): What can we do?
They turn to him a sense of surprise, but they don't really believe he means the statement.
JINNAH: After what they did at the massacre it's
only an eye for an eye.
He looks at him. Gandhi doesn't move. Patel looks up hopelessly at Jinnah. Azad keeps his eyes fixed on Gandhi, sensing, fearing what is going to happen.
JINNAH: We would never get the same commitment again ever.
He looks at Gandhi with a mounting sense of annoyance.
GANDHI: If we obtain our freedom by murder and
bloodshed I want no part of it.
Jinnah turns away in anger. Patel sighs. Nehru feels helpless but he continues to try.
NEHRU: Bapu the whole nation is marching. They wouldn't stop, even if we asked them to.
Gandhi stares into nothing mulling that. Finally
GANDHI: I will ask. And I will fast as penance for my part in arousing such emotions and I will not stop until they stop.
Nehru stares at him surprised. Azad is not.
JINNAH (disgustedly): God! You can be sure the British won't censor that! They'll put it on every street corner.
Gandhi does not react. And Nehru ignores the thought too, because like Azad his mind is already on the real danger.
NEHRU: But but Gandhiji people are aroused . . . they won't stop.
Gandhi looks up at him a resigned fatalism.
GANDHI: If I die, perhaps they will . . .
Mirabehn walks across the grounds toward Gandhi's bungalow. She
carries a small tray with a pitcher and a glass. We see a few people working in the
background, and a mass of people camped near the entrance, some sprawled, some sitting,
some standing all waiting.
In the shadows, Ba sits by Gandhi's mat bed. She is holding him as
he heaves in a spasm of dry retching, his face to the wall. When he is finished, he lies
almost limp in her arms and she gently lowers him to the mat. She strokes his head.
BA (softly): I must get ready for evening prayers. Mirabehn is here.
She strokes his sweating head again, touches his shoulder and gets
up. For a moment the two women hold each other's gaze, then Ba smiles weakly, and leans
her head into the taller Mirabehn's shoulder. With her free hand Mirabehn touches Ba's
head. Then Ba straightens, and leaves without looking back.
MIRABEHN: I've brought your drinking water. May I turn you?
Gandhi struggles to turn, and Mirabehn helps him. When he turns we see that his face is wet with sweat from the dry heaving and his hands and arms are quivering and he cannot stop them. She looks at him nervously, then pours a glass from the pitcher.
MIRABEHN: There is a little lemon juice in it. That is all.
She turns back, and propping up his head, helps him to sip.
MIRABEHN: Herman has gone to meet Pandit Nehru there was a telegram. Almost everywhere it has stopped.
Gandhi swallows with difficulty. He pauses, letting his head fall back and she lowers it down to the mat again. He tries to smile.
GANDHI: When it is everywhere, then my prayers will be answered.
Mirabehn looks daunted by his intractability.
GANDHI: Do you find me stubborn?
Gandhi signals her down to him. She bends so she is looking at the floor and he is speaking almost into her ear.
GANDHI (hoarse, strained): When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won.
We intercut their faces, very close, as he speaks.
GANDHI: There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it always . . . When you are in doubt that that is God's way, the way the world is meant to be . . . think of that.
During the very last of it Mirabehn has turned her face to him, touched with emotion.
GANDHI (the paternal smile): And then try to do it His way. (A tear runs down Mirabehn's face. She touches his shoulder. Gandhi just leans his head back in exhaustion.) And now could I have another feast of lemon juice?
Mirabehn straightens up, smiling, wiping the tear from her cheek
with mock discipline. She starts to pour water from the pitcher into the glass again, then
she turns suddenly, her attention caught.
MIRABEHN: Panditji come in.
She stands, moving back from Gandhi.
NEHRU: Jinnah, Patel, all of Congress has called for the end of non-co-operation. There's not been one demonstration. All over India people are praying that you will end the fast. They're walking in the streets, offering garlands to the police and to British soldiers.
It is a victory. Gandhi's face cracks into a tearful grin.
GANDHI (croaked): Perhaps perhaps I have overdone it.
And Nehru chokes with emotion and laughter at the same time. He buries his head on Gandhi's hand, clutching it to him.
Bright sunshine. A little boy is pulling a goat by a tether. He turns with a bright smile.
LITTLE BOY: Good morning, Bapu!
Reverse angle. Gandhi is walking, holding Ba's shoulder for support with one hand, and Mirabehn's with the other. It is some days later.
GANDHI: Good morning. (Of the goat) Don't let her go. If she bumps me I am done for.
The boy grins at Gandhi's feigned alarm.
LITTLE BOY: Don't worry. I milk her every day, she's not
The sound of a motor disturbs them. Gandhi turns.
POLICE SUPERINTENDENT (a beat): Sedition.
Nehru stares at him and the policemen with growing incredulity.
NEHRU: I don't believe it even the British can't
be that stupid!
It stops Nehru. He looks at Gandhi and sighs in unmastered frustration, but he moves to Gandhi's side. Gandhi turns to Mirabehn.
GANDHI: You must help Herman and Ba. (He releases her, and says more loudly to the others) I have been on many trips it is just another trip.
He smiles at them, then slips his free hand on Nehru's shoulder and he turns to the superintendent.
GANDHI: I am at your command.
Featuring Gandhi, Ba and Nehru, as they walk to the car behind the somewhat surprised superintendent.
GANDHI (to Nehru): If there is one protest one riot a disgrace of any kind, I will fast again.
He looks at Nehru firmly. Nehru knows him well enough now not to argue even at this, though his face shows the struggle.
GANDHI (and now he smiles Gandhi to Nehru, special): I know India is not ready for my kind of independence. If I am sent to jail, perhaps that is the best protest our country can make at this time. And if it helps India, I have never refused to take His Majesty's hospitality.
He laughs and Nehru struggles to join in the joke.
A quiet hum in a packed courtroom. Armed sepoys line the wall.
CLERK: Call the prisoner to the bar.
The sergeant-at-arms turns and moves to the door at the side of the
bench. The courtroom immediately falls silent. The sergeant-at-arms opens the door
a moment and Gandhi enters slowly. He has recovered a bit more, but he still moves
ADVOCATE GENERAL: . . . "Non-co-operation has one
aim: the overthrow of the Government. Sedition must become our creed. We must give no
quarter, nor can we expect any." (He looks up at Gandhi.) Signed M. K.
Gandhi, in your journal Young India, dated twenty-second March of this year. Do
you deny writing it?
There is a little shock of reaction around the courtroom. The Advocate General smiles with a brittle disdain, then he turns to the judge.
ADVOCATE GENERAL: The Prosecution rests, M'Lord.
The judge nods. He turns, glancing at the empty table for defense counsel, and then to Gandhi.
JUDGE BROOMFIELD: I take it you will conduct your own
defense, Mr. Gandhi.
It is almost a cruel challenge to the obviously humane Broomfield.
JUDGE BROOMFIELD: It is impossible for me to ignore that you are in a different category from any person I have ever tried, or am likely to try.
He looks up at Gandhi and his own respect for him is almost poignantly manifest.
JUDGE BROOMFIELD (a long beat): It is nevertheless my duty to sentence you to six years' imprisonment.
A stunned intake of breath from the whole courtroom, then in absolute silence the clerk scribbles the sentence in his notebook. A pause. The Judge lowers his eyes.
JUDGE BROOMFIELD (a personal statement, not a real hope): If however His Majesty's Government could at some later date see fit to reduce that term, no one would be better pleased than I.
He folds, and refolds his glasses and then without looking at anyone
he rises. The court rises and he walks stiffly to his chambers.
Long shot. From far above the hills we see a car traveling along the
road. Its style tells us some years have passed.
COLLINS' VOICE-OVER (English accent): Yes, I'm sure that's exactly what they hoped. Put him in prison a few years and with luck he'd be forgotten. And maybe they'd even subdue him . . .
We see from Walker's point of view an Indian woman walking along the
road, leading a tall camel that carries sacks of produce. Two young girls in ragged saris
walk with her, and a boy of eight leads a smaller camel behind them. They are staring off
at the car.
COLLINS: Well, he certainly wasn't forgotten! And as soon as he got out he was back tramping the country, preaching non-violence and demanding a free India. Everybody knows another showdown's coming but when, and over what
He shrugs, "Nobody knows" . . .
WALKER: Well, I read you account of that crowd in Calcutta and that he was twisting the Lion's tail again . . .
Collins has suddenly slowed the car, then swerves around a pair of elephants hauling logs.
WALKER (falteringly): . . . and I knew
something had to give. And I was determined to be here when it did.
Collins glances at him in surprise as he steers the car around another procession of camels heading toward the port.
COLLINS: He certainly makes good copy. (A laugh.) The other day Winston Churchill called him "that half-naked Indian fakir."
Walker smiles too, but it soon passes.
WALKER: I met him once.
Collins looks at him in real surprise.
COLLINS: You mean Gandhi?
He honks as he goes around a wooden-wheeled cart.
Simple. Austere. Filtered light. Featuring Gandhi close. He
is looking straight ahead.
BA (a step forward): "In every worthy wish of yours, I shall be your helpmate."
Another angle featuring Walker and Collins, who are sitting alone, in the cool shadows of the temple, watching with fascination as Gandhi and Ba repeat their marriage ceremony for them, Walker jotting notes occasionally, but his eyes always glued to Gandhi and Ba, who are in part lost in memories and echoes of a significance only they can know.
GANDHI (a step): "Take a fourth step, that we may be ever full of joy."
Wide shot. Showing the two of them before the altar of the temple, moving closer to each other.
BA (a step): "I will ever live devoted to you, speaking words of love and praying for your happiness."
Close shot Gandhi.
GANDHI: "Take a fifth step, that we may serve the
Featuring Walker, now too entranced by the ceremony, by the depth of layered emotions in Gandhi and Ba's voices and eyes to take any notes . . .
GANDHI: "Take a sixth step, that we may follow our
vows in life."
Ba and Gandhi. Near to meeting now.
GANDHI (a last step): "Take the seventh step, that we may ever live as friends."
Ba takes the last step, so that they are face to face. A beat.
BA: "You are my best friend . . . my highest guru, and my sovereign lord."
For a moment their eyes hold the many dreams, and hopes and
pain the love of many years.
GANDHI: Then I put a sweetened wheat cake in her mouth.
He touches Ba's lips with his extended fingers and she kisses them gently.
BA: And I put a sweetened wheat cake in his mouth.
She has lifted her fingers to his mouth and he kisses them gently.
GANDHI: And with that we were pronounced man and wife. (Solemnly) We were both thirteen . . .
A tiny, beautiful city rising steeply out of the Arabian Sea with
tall, thick-walled buildings, half-fortresses, half-homes, their white walls tinted amber
and gold now by the early light of the sun.
WALKER: It's beautiful.
Walker looks down at him. Gandhi scowls up in the early light.
WALKER: Trying to keep track of you is making me change all my sleeping habits.
GANDHI: And you've come all this way because you think
something is going to happen?
They both watch the waves beat on the shore a moment, the changing hues of the sunrise on the whites of Porbandar.
GANDHI (musing): Do you remember much of South
He looks out to sea, and we intercut his face with Walker's, the sea, and the town itself as the sun turns it white.
GANDHI: When I was a boy I used to sing a song in that temple: "A true disciple knows another's woes as his own. He bows to all and despises none . . . Earthly possessions hold him not." Like all boys I said the words, not thinking of what they meant or how they might be influencing me. (He looks at Walker . . . then out to the sea again, shaking his head.) I've traveled so far . . . and all I've done is come back home.
Walker studies him as this profound man reaches, in his middle
years, a profound insight.
WALKER: You know what you're going to do.
Gandhi looks at him, a teasing smile.
GANDHI: It would have been very uncivil of me to let you make such a long trip for nothing.
The grin broadens, and then he starts briskly down the promontory. Walker scrambles up after him.
WALKER: Where are you going?
Gulls fly over them, squawking in the growing light. Gandhi pauses, looking up at the gulls, then back down to the sea.
GANDHI: I'm going back to the ashram (then firmly) and then I'm going to prove to the new Viceroy that the King's writ no longer runs in India!
He turns from the sea to Walker, his eyes confident, elated, then he
continues on down the promontory. Still baffled, Walker glances at the sea, at him, then
Close shot the Viceroy, a "new one," Lord Irwin.
Another angle. He is looking in astonishment at his principal secretary. His ADC, a general, a brigadier, a senior police officer are with him. Like him they hold the same offices, but are a new team.
PRINCIPAL SECRETARY: Yes, sir. He is going to march to the sea and make salt.
Irwin looks at him, still trying to penetrate the significance of the act. The senior police officer helps.
SENIOR POLICE OFFICER: There is a Royal Monopoly on the manufacture of salt, sir. It's illegal to make it or sell it without a Government license.
Irwin has listened; it's beginning to make a little sense.
IRWIN: All right he's breaking the law. What
will he be depriving us of, two rupees of salt tax?
The principal secretary blanches.
PRINCIPAL SECRETARY: No, sir. I in this climate, sir, nothing lives without water or salt. Our absolute control of it is a control on the pulse of India.
Irwin looks at his ADC, then paces a bit, pondering it.
IRWIN: And that's the basis of this "Declaration
A moment as Irwin considers it, then it is the general who speaks.
GENERAL: I say ignore it. Let them raise their damn
flags, let him make his salt. It's only symbolic if we choose to make it so.
Irwin has turned to him. And this makes up his mind.
IRWIN: General Edgar is right ignore it. Mr. Gandhi will find it's going to take a great deal more than a pinch of salt to bring down the British Empire.
He is concerned enough to be angry, but certain enough to be dogmatic.
It is very early, the light just beginning to break, and we are
looking out across the river toward the distant town, and against the pink glow of the sky
we can see people in groups wading across the river toward the ashram. And suddenly a mass
of people, hidden by the embankment, appear at the top of the steps coming up from the
river, and the camera lifts slightly with their movement and we see that they are but the
forerunners of a long tendril of humanity that stretches across the river, all the way
back to the distant outskirts of the city.
Quiet, just the buzz of activity from outside the building. Gandhi lies on a mat and Ba and Mirabehn are massaging him with oil as he checks page proofs, an oil lamp by his side. Nehru sits cross-legged next to him, taking the proofs as Gandhi finishes them. Maulana Azad sits to one side. Behind them Desai is making notes on Gandhi's instructions.
GANDHI (to Nehru): . . . the real test will come if I am arrested. If there is violence we lose all our moral advantage. This time it mustn't happen.
He looks at Nehru and Azad solemnly to emphasize the point. Nehru nods; a little smile.
NEHRU: We're not beginners anymore. We've been trained by a strict sergeant major.
He means Gandhi of course, and Gandhi accepts the reference, but it is the acceptance of the strict sergeant major: "Don't fail me." Then he looks to Azad.
GANDHI: If I'm taken, Maulana is to lead the march. If he is arrested, Patel, then Kripalani, then yourself.
Nehru nods. Ba moves to massage the top of Gandhi's head.
BA: You should be relaxing.
Gandhi grins, looking at Mirabehn, who is massaging his legs.
GANDHI: I'm sure I'm fit for at least five hundred
Gandhi looks at Nehru, a benign shrug.
GANDHI: I have two of them bossing me now.
Nehru smiles. He stands, having taken the last proof sheet. Azad rises with him.
NEHRU: We must get these to the printer. (He looks down at Gandhi.) I know it will succeed. Even my mother is prepared to march.
Gandhi is pleasurably impressed with that.
GANDHI: And Jinnah?
He leans back and closes his eyes. Ba rubs his head soothingly. Nehru bends and squeezes his arm in farewell. Gandhi nods, not opening his eyes. Nehru and Azad smile at Ba and leave.
The sun higher, but still early light. A green, white and saffron
flag (the colors of India) is pulled up an uneven pole. The sound of gentle clapping.
GANDHI (of the press): You've done me a great
Gandhi smiles. He turns back toward his bungalow. Ba and Mirabehn
stand there watching, Desai with them. Gandhi holds their gaze a second, then turns and
starts forward. Pyarelal takes up a position next to him, the marchers follow.
A thinner crowd here, but going all along the path. To one side we
see two police cars drawn up, and several policemen (a British officer, a British
sergeant, and four Indian constables) lined up near them.
WALKER: Is it over if they arrest you now?
Walker smiles a little uneasily for they are now near the police. Gandhi nods to them amiably as he passes along in front of them. Walker is turning, watching for a move from the police but begins to grasp that there may be none. He hurries along closer to Gandhi again, one eye still on the police.
WALKER: What if they don't arrest you? What if they don't react at all?
Gandhi glances at him. Walker too wears a knapsack. Gandhi nods to it, though never breaking his pace.
GANDHI: Do you still have your notebook? (Walker fumbles for it; Gandhi goes right on talking.) The function of a civil resister is to provoke response. And we will continue to provoke until they respond, or they change the law. They are not in control we are. That is the strength of civil resistance.
He nods politely toward the British police officer at the end of the police line. Walker stops, letting the procession march on by him, looking at the British police officer, then writing busily in his notebook. Collins stop by him.
COLLINS: What'd he say?
A dusty approach to a dusty little village. Both sides of the track
are lined with peasants holding flower petals and leaves, all gazing expectantly down the
road. Behind them the village is strung with the green, white and saffron colors of
GANDHI: Are you going to walk all the way?
Gandhi smiles and turns back. He shakes his head.
GANDHI (to himself): "My name is Walk-er" . . .
And grinning at it, he passes by the policemen and into the cheers
of the crowd.
In the dark a large group of students comes stumbling, laughing, across the ditch that separates the road from the field. The student leader gets clear of the ditch and comes upon Pyarelal and Walker. They are standing near a group of American newsmen playing poker by a campfire. He addresses Pyarelal good-naturedly.
STUDENT LEADER: We've come to join the march. What do
The student leader follows his gaze and the camera pans off with his glance. We see that the numbers have grown immensely. Fires dot the field and spread and spread and spread. Behind Walker and Pyarelal the newsreel truck and three cars for reporters are spread out around the fires. We identify a couple of Frenchmen and a Japanese. Walker looks at Pyarelal and shakes his head in wonder at it all.
A small Indian boy is high in a dead tree. Below him a couple of bone-thin cattle graze in the early light as he stares off.
The huge procession stretched out along the road.
A blunt, rotund, powerful-looking woman (Sarojini Naidu) in an
outrageously colorful sari strides along the dusty road as though she could cover another
thousand miles and means to. The sound of hundreds of marching feet, of cars, some
distant singing. The camera lifts and pulls back. We see that Naidu is marching just
behind Gandhi, like a determined lieutenant, and that the procession has grown even
greater. Two newsreel trucks now, four cars of reporters, some people riding donkeys, some
walking with camels trailing, loaded with belongings.
The camera closing fast (helicopter) as the
silhouette of a man appears running up a sand dune, lifting his arms to the sky and the
camera sweeps over him and up, revealing a crescent of beach and ocean, and for a second
it holds on the sea as it did at Porbandar, then pivots to the truly astronomical crowd
thronging the shore, an immense wheel of human beings, and in its hub a gathering around
Gandhi. We descend on that center, recognizing the newsmen, Walker, Pyarelal, Sarojini
Naidu, and at last Gandhi picking up a handful of natural salt and lifting it high.
GANDHI'S VOICE-OVER: Man needs salt as he needs air and water. This salt comes from the Indian Ocean. (The salt crystals are added to an urn already partially full. The camera pulls back and Gandhi lifts the urn. All around him the pressing crowd: newsreel cameramen, reporters Walker, Collins, Naidu, Pyarelal. Firmly) Let every Indian claim it as his right!!
A wide-angle shot.
ANNOUNCER'S VOICE-OVER: . . . and so once more the man of non-violence has challenged the might of the British Empire.
And with that we get the Movietone Music tag and as the film fades, the lights go up on
A couple of civil servants move about to raise the window shades
while Lord Irwin stares at the blank screen set up in his office. The general, the
brigadier, the senior police officer, Irwin's ADC and the principal secretary are all
present. The two men who ran the projector are quietly dismantling it.
SENIOR POLICE OFFICER: They're making it everywhere, sir mobs of them publicly. Congress leaders are selling it on the streets of Delhi.
BRIGADIER: We're being made fools of around the world!
IRWIN: We're required to stop it. (He stands, his mind made up.) And stop it we will. (He looks at the senior police officer.) I don't care if we fill the jails, stop it. Arrest anyone, any rank except Gandhi. We'll cut his strength from under him. And then we'll deal with the Mahatma.
For the first time he is truly angry.
A young British subaltern trots up to the wall and looks down. His face falls.
BRITISH SUBALTERN: Oh, my God!
The beach. Subaltern's point of view. Packed with people making
salt, selling salt, buying salt.
SUBALTERN: Right jump to it clear this beach!
Men, women and children are making little paper packets of salt from
piles heaped along long tables. A group of policemen barge into the room, knocking tables
and salt and paper in every direction with their lathis, seizing some of the volunteers
Nehru is on the back of a big open truck that is stationary in the
street. The truck is loaded with boxes that contain salt packets and Nehru and eight or
nine others are selling them to people who flock about the truck. The sound of horses.
Nehru lifts his head.
NEHRU: No violence, Zia!
And a lathi is brought smashing across the side of Nehru's head. He is knocked to his knees; blood streams from his head. He feels the side of his head, the blood soaking his hand. He struggles to his feet, facing the policeman who has struck him.
NEHRU (repeating quietly, as though to Zia): . . . no violence.
It stops the policeman for a second, and a sergeant suddenly intrudes, recognizing Nehru.
SERGEANT: You're Nehru
The sergeant sighs grimly.
The desk lights are on. Irwin, the senior police officer, the principal secretary. Tension, fatigue, frustration as the senior police officer outlines the situation.
SENIOR POLICE OFFICER: . . . There's been no time to
keep figures, but there must be ninety a hundred thousand under arrest. (Grimly,
incredibly) And it still goes on.
The senior police officer looks up, realizing his gaffe and wishes desperately he could relive the last couple of minutes.
SENIOR POLICE OFFICER: Oh, no, sir no, I'm
He means incite violence. The Viceroy ponders it favorably.
IRWIN (to senior police officer): He's
addressed this letter directly to you, has he?
The senior police officer is brought up by the chill directness of it. He looks at Irwin and the principal secretary for a moment in uncertainty. Then
SENIOR POLICE OFFICER: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. It will be my pleasure.
As he turns to leave Irwin speaks almost offhandedly.
IRWIN: And Fields, keep that salt works open.
The senior police officer stares at him, then
SENIOR POLICE OFFICER (delighted): Yes, sir!
Barbed wire stretches on either side of the stockade-like entrance.
Above the gate we see the sign DHARASANA SALT WORKS.
Before it six British police officers and two Indian police officers command a large troop
of Indian policemen. They face their opposition, unmoving, tense. The camera pans from
them, across a sloping dip in the ground, to a huge group of volunteers lining up to face
the police as tautly as the police face them.
AZAD: I would like admission to the Works.
Azad looks at him a second, then glances at the troops. He is
clearly afraid, but there is an air of tragic inevitability in his face.
AZAD: Last night they took Gandhiji from us. They expect us to lose heart or to fight back. We will not lose heart, we will not fight back. In his name we will be beaten. As he has taught us, we will not raise a hand. "Long live Mahatma Gandhi!"
He turns and starts down the dip toward the gate and the waiting
lathis of the police.
POLICE COMMANDING OFFICER (finally): Now!
And with the volunteers a foot from them, the police strike with
their lathis. A groan of empathic anguish from the waiting volunteers, but then we get
Close shot a telephone cradle being pounded.
WALKER (into the phone): Hello! Ed! Ed! Goddammit, don't cut me off! (Then suddenly he's through.) Ed! Okay yeah right.
And he continues urgently reading the story that lies on his notes on the little stand before him.
WALKER: "They walked, with heads up, without music, or cheering, or any hope of escape from injury or death." (His voice is taut, harshly professional.) "It went on and on and on. Women carried the wounded bodies from the ditch until they dropped from exhaustion. But still it went on."
He shifts the mangled notes and comes to his last paragraph. He speaks it trying only half successfully to keep the emotion from his voice.
WALKER: "Whatever moral ascendance the West held was lost today. India is free for she has taken all that steel and cruelty can give, and she has neither cringed nor retreated." (On Walker close. His sweating, blood and dirt-stained face near tears.) "In the words of his followers, 'Long live Mahatma Gandhi.' "
Silence. The camera moves across the empty room and discovers Irwin,
standing by himself, looking out of the window down into the street.
Through the formal entrance comes a single black car. A motorcycle policeman precedes it.
The black car pulls up before the front of the palace and stops.
There is no sign of activity. It is as though the building and grounds are deserted except
for Irwin alone in his office.
The principal secretary, with a look of faint distaste for someone
out of shot, discreetly moves out of the doors, and closes them behind him.
GANDHI: I am aware that I must have given you much cause for irritation, your Excellency. I hope it will not stand between us as men.
Reverse angle. Irwin is in shadows behind his desk looking, still, in some kind of shock, staring at Gandhi.
IRWIN: Mr. Gandhi, I have instructions to request your attendance at an All-Government Conference in London to discuss to discuss the possible Independence of India.
He faces Gandhi stiffly.
Wide screen, but slightly under-cranked with the bad cutting and
predictable music of the old newsreels.
MACDONALD: I think our first duty is to recognize that there is not one India, but several: a Hindu India, a Muslim India, and India of Princely States. And all these must be respected and cared for not just one.
Beneath its unctuous political veneer it is blatantly divisive and
clearly reveals the true intent of the Conference. As Gandhi looks at MacDonald, we read
on his face his perception of the sad truth.
GANDHI (to Walker): Do I speak into that?
Walker cringes, glancing at the lighted "On the Air" sign. He signals "Yes" frantically.
GANDHI: Are they ready? Do I start?
He glances at the booth. Everybody including Walker and Mirabehn are nodding "Yes." Gandhi shrugs, grins at everyone's excitement, and begins.
GANDHI: I am glad to speak to America where so many friends exist that I know only in my heart.
As the speech continues in the thin, static-y tones of thirties' radio, we see Mirabehn and the technicians listening in the control room./ Walker, across the table from Gandhi./ The outside of Broadcasting House./ The Empire State Building and Manhattan./ A mid-western farmhouse./ A thirties' radio set in a thirties' American living room./ A family, listening, kids playing on the floor, half ignoring it, the mother ironing, the father in an armchair, a newspaper open.
GANDHI'S VOICE (continuing over all): I think your interest and the world's has fallen on India, not only because we are struggling for freedom, but because the way we are doing so is unique as far as history shows us. Here in Europe mighty nations are, it seems, already contemplating another war, though I think they, and all the world, are sick to death of bloodspilling. All of us are seeking a way out, and I flatter myself that perhaps the ancient land of India will offer such a way. If we are to make progress we must not repeat history, but make history. And I myself will die before I betray our belief that love is a stronger weapon than hate.
H. Gandhi shaking hands with MacDonald outside No. 10 Downing
Street, MacDonald smiling the politician's smile, Gandhi smiling rather sadly.
The gentle sounds of the country. A girl of twelve leads a limping
goat slowly across the grass. She pauses and looks up questioningly.
GANDHI: It is only a sprain. Take her to the river, and we'll make a mud-pack for her. Go I won't be long.
He turns back.
JINNAH: So the truth is, after all your travels, all your efforts, they've stopped the campaign and sent you home empty-handed.
He is in his white suit, the black-ribboned pince-nez. He sits on a wicker chair, Nehru and Patel lean against the railing, Azad and Kripalani sit on the floor like Gandhi.
GANDHI: They are only clinging to old dreams (looks
up from his spinning to Jinnah) and trying to split us in the old way. But the will
has gone Independence will drop like a ripe apple. The only question is when (another
glance at Jinnah) and how.
Gandhi winds up what he has done, and starts to rise.
GANDHI: They are preparing for war. I will not support
it, but I do not intend to take advantage of their danger.
Gandhi has moved toward the steps. He stops and looks at Patel. A wry, gentle smile.
GANDHI: No. That is just another way of striking back. We have come a long way together with the British. When they leave we want to see them off as friends. (He starts down the steps and heads for the river.) And now, if you'll excuse me, there is something I must attend to.
Featuring Nehru. He looks at Jinnah and shrugs. Jinnah takes it less philosophically and his eyes burn with anger as he watches Gandhi head for the young girl with the injured goat.
NEHRU (resignedly): "Mud packs."
Gandhi is moving with the stream of passengers disembarking from the
Third Class section. Ba and Mirabehn are struggling along behind him, Desai and Pyarelal
completing the little group. They pass a newspaper stand: "Hitler's Armies Sweep
On." As they move out into the flux of the station we see many uniforms, the sense of
a nation readying for war.
BRITISH COLONEL: Mr. Gandhi sir.
Gandhi stops, looks up at him, at the troops behind him.
BRITISH COLONEL: I have instructions to inquire as to the subject of your speech tonight.
Gandhi shakes his head with a weary grin.
GANDHI: The value of goat's milk in daily diet. (Into his eyes) But you can be sure I will also speak against war.
The British Colonel signals back to the troops.
BRITISH COLONEL: I'm sorry, sir. That can't be allowed.
As a detail marches up to them, the colonel's adjutant speaks gently to Ba.
ADJUTANT: It's all right, Mrs. Gandhi. I have orders to
return with you and your companion to the Mahatma's ashram.
She stares at the adjutant belligerently. He looks flummoxed.
A jeep bounces along the road. It is driven by an American lieutenant and his passenger is a woman dressed in an American War Correspondent's uniform (Margaret Bourke-White). As the jeep passes the camera we pan with it and see the walls of a palace ahead.
BOURKE-WHITE: Stop! Wait a minute!
The jeep slithers to a stop, and Bourke-White grabs a camera that is strapped around her, stands, and takes a picture of the palace.
The palace looks evocative a lonely, incongruous building.
LIEUTENANT: It was the Aga Khan's palace, but they've turned it into a prison.
Bourke-White slips back down into her seat; we see the arm band on her jacket: "Press." The lieutenant starts the jeep up and they head toward the gate, where we see a British soldier on guard.
LIEUTENANT (shouting over the motor): They've got most of the leading Congress politicians in this one. But Nehru and some others are over in Dehra Dun. Your timing's pretty lucky. They had your Mr. Gandhi cut off from the press but last month his personal secretary died and they've let up on the restrictions.
Bourke-White just absorbs it, staring at the palace, taking in the experience with the appetite of her breed, and her own particular sensitivity.
Gandhi sits by the window that is grilled rather than barred. He is spinning in a shaft of light and looking off as we hear a camera click and the rustle of movement. His hair, only half-gray in London, is now white.
GANDHI: Yes, I have heard of Life Magazine. (A smile.) I have even heard of Margaret Bourke-White. But I don't know why either should be interested in an old man sitting in prison when the world is blowing itself to pieces.
Bourke-White who has been moving, crouching to shoot him and the light sags back against the wall, relaxing at last. She has a smile as penetrating and warming as his.
BOURKE-WHITE (a beat and she smiles): You're the only man I know who makes his own clothes.
Gandhi grins and glances toward his dhoti.
GANDHI: Ah, but for me that's not much of an accomplishment.
Meaning he doesn't wear many clothes. Bourke-White bursts into an appreciative radiance already she has assessed him, and been won.
Gandhi walks along, Bourke-White loping along beside him, a little distance away, listening, but searching too for an angle, a moment that is right.
GANDHI: No prison is rather agreeable to me, and
there is no doubt that after the war, independence will come. My only worry is what shape
it will take. Jinnah has
She has Gandhi in the foreground, a soldier on the wall above and behind him.
BOURKE-WHITE: Now go on just as you were.
Gandhi shrugs but suffers it. We feature him, low, from her point of view, as he walks on, the soldier pacing on the wall in the background.
BOURKE-WHITE (coaching): ". . . what
shape it will take." Jinnah has what?
A spinning wheel works rapidly. The camera lifts. Gandhi is at the wheel and he is smiling off at Bourke-White, who is trying ineptly to imitate him on another spinning wheel. The garden they are in has gone to seed a bit, but with latticed fretwork in the walls dappling sunlight on the grass and shrubs it is still beautiful.
BOURKE-WHITE (archly, but emphatically of the spinning): I do not see it as the solution of the twentieth century's problems!
She's grinning at her own frustration and she keeps trying, but there's no doubt she means it. Gandhi's smile broadens. Wryly he lifts his own "product" a tiny roll of thread.
GANDHI: I have a friend who keeps telling me how much it costs him to keep me in poverty.
And they both laugh . . . a guard on the wall distantly looks at them wonderingly.
GANDHI (a bit more seriously): But I know happiness does not come with things even twentieth century things. It can come from work, and pride in what you do. (He looks at her steadily.) It will not necessarily be "progress" for India if she simply imports the unhappiness of the West.
And she responds to the sophistication of that observation. He pivots around, moving beside her, and slowly demonstrates the process, taking her hands, guiding her. Bourke-White watches him as much as the wheel.
BOURKE-WHITE: But do you really believe you could use
non-violence against someone like Hitler?
And he smiles a little wisely at her.
BOURKE-WHITE: Is my finger supposed to be wrapped
His tone is not altogether patient. She looks at him in surprise and he sighs tolerantly. Then reflectively
GANDHI: Every enemy is a human being even the worst of them. And he believes he is right and you are a beast. (And now a little smile.) And if you beat him over the head you will only convince him. But you suffer, to show him that he is wrong, your sacrifice creates an atmosphere of understanding if not with him, then in the hearts of the rest of the community on whom he depends.
Bourke-White looks at him and there is enough sense in this argument to give her pause.
GANDHI: If you are right, you will win after much pain. (He looks at her, then smiles in his own ironic way.) If you are wrong, well, then, only you will suffer the blows.
She stares at him, and we know she thinks him much more profound than she had thought initially.
Ba, Mirabehn and Bourke-White sit on straw mats around the room, an oil lamp is the only light. It is women's talk, but Ba is defending her husband, speaking simply, but with total conviction.
BA: . . . not at all. Bapu has always said there were two kinds of slavery in India one for women, one for the untouchables and he has always fought against both.
Bourke-White accepts it at face value. She opens another line of inquiry.
BOURKE-WHITE: Does it rankle, being separated from him this way?
BA: Yes . . . but we see each other in the day.
She's terribly curious, but she doesn't want to offend. Ba sees both the curiosity and the hesitancy. She smiles across at Mirabehn, then
BA: In Hindu philosophy the way to God is to free
yourself of possessions and the passions that inflame to anger and jealousy. (A
smile.) Bapu has always struggled to find the way to God.
Again Ba smiles.
BA: Four times he tried and failed. (Mirabehn and Bourke-White grin. The older woman gives a wistful smile.) But then he took a solemn vow . . .
She shrugs . . . the implication is it was a long time ago.
BOURKE-WHITE: And he has never broken it?
She looks at them soberly and then they all burst into laughter like girls.
Military move quietly but urgently in and out around the main
entrance. Two military ambulances are drawn up nearby.
MAJOR: I've got permission to move her he can go too.
The doctor shakes his head.
DOCTOR: She's had a coronary throm a serious heart failure. She wouldn't survive a trip. It's best to leave her and hope.
The major looks defeated and depressed by the news.
Ba lies on a mat, a pillow beneath her head, her eyes closed, her
breathing short. Mirabehn sits next to her, rubbing a hand up and down her arm.
GANDHI: It is time for my walk I won't be long.
Ba's eyes flutter open. She holds her hand out to him and he takes
it. When he goes to release it, she clutches it. Gandhi hesitates, and then he sits,
holding Ba's hand in his lap. He looks across at Mirabehn and nods for her to go.
The funeral pyre burns, its work almost done.
Extreme close shot. A piece of cloth, shimmering in a stiff breeze .
. . For a moment we hold it in silence and then we hear the sound of an aircraft growing
louder and louder. And slowly the camera pulls back and we see that the cloth is part of a
pennant of the nose of an aircraft.
Nehru, Lady Mountbatten and dignitaries. English and Indians watch as Mountbatten approaches a group of microphones identified as NBC, CBS, BBC, etc.
MOUNTBATTEN: We have come to crown victory with friendship to assist at the birth of an independent India and to welcome her as an equal member in the British Commonwealth of Nations. (A little smile.) I am here to see that I am the last British Viceroy ever to have the honor of such a reception.
He grins in his youthful, beguiling manner and makes the pranam
to the cheering crowd.
Jinnah stands by one of the great pillars of the immense portico. It is a break in their Independence Conference, and as he lights a cigarette, a weary Gandhi approaches him with Azad. Jinnah's anger is clearly too deep to be left at the conference table. He slaps his lighter shut and addresses Gandhi in hushed but fiercely felt words.
JINNAH: I don't give a damn for the independence of India! I am concerned about the slavery of Muslims!
Nehru and Patel are approaching from the conference room, both of them looking worn and angry too. Jinnah raises his voice deliberately so Nehru will hear.
JINNAH: I will not sit by to see the mastery of the
British replaced by the mastery of the Hindus!
Jinnah sneers at the idea, though he cools a little.
JINNAH: The world is not made of Mahatma Gandhis. (He
looks at Nehru and Patel.) I am talking about the real world.
Gandhi is staring at Jinnah trying to fathom the source of his anger
and fear. He turns to see that
MOUNTBATTEN: Gentlemen, perhaps we should recommence.
Gandhi nods, and reluctantly the adversaries move back to the conference room. Gandhi is last through the door. He pauses by Mountbatten, a little sigh "How difficult, how difficult" then he puts a friendly hand on Mountbatten's shoulder and the two of them enter together.
Featuring Godse waving a black flag and shouting.
GODSE (with others): Death to Jinnah! Death to Jinnah!
We have pulled back and we see a whole gathering of Hindu youths
near the entrance to the ashram. Many wave black flags. A couple of trucks that have
brought them, and a car, are along the path. Kallenbach is stepping out of an old 1942
open Austin that he has put in a waiting position near the entrance to the path. The
chanting shout "Death to Jinnah!" suddenly dies. The youths and
Kallenbach look back toward the ashram.
Gandhi is rising from the floor, where his spinning wheel sits. He stops, halfway up, listening, then, a weary sigh.
GANDHI: Thank God, they've stopped.
Mirabehn is spinning across the room. She lifts her head as a signal
to someone out of shot.
GANDHI: I'm your grand uncle but I can still walk either of you into the ground and I don't need to be pampered this way!
It's cross he's worried about other things. Mirabehn just smiles at it. Gandhi looks down at Abha, and taps her sharply on the top of the head.
GANDHI: Finish your quota of spinning.
She nods obediently, the flicker of a smile around her mouth, youthful, irrepressible. The beauty of it almost saddens Gandhi. He taps her again gently and goes out.
Kallenbach shoos a chicken from the back seat of the Austin and
dusts off the seat. He steps back out.
HINDU YOUTH: Bapu please. Don't do it!
They are all awed, timid even in his actual presence, and the mood of their gathering has changed altogether. Gandhi looks at the youth and the line of others.
GANDHI (impatiently): What do you want me not to do? Not to meet with Mr. Jinnah? (Fiercely) I am a Muslim! (He stares at them, then relents.) And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew and so are all of you. When you wave those flags and shout you send fear into the hearts of your brothers.
He sweeps them sternly with his eyes, all his fatigue and strain showing.
GANDHI: This is not the India I want. Stop it. For God's sake, stop it.
And he lowers his head and moves on to the car, where Kallenbach
holds the door for him, Nehru, Azad and Pyarelal following.
Jinnah is on the small balcony of this elaborate room. He is looking down in a slightly supercilious manner. As usual he is impeccably dressed.
JINNAH: Now, please, if you've finished your prayers, could we begin with business.
He has been looking at
GANDHI: My dear Jinnah, you and I are brothers born of the same Mother India. If you have fears, I want to put them to rest. (Jinnah listens impatiently, sceptically. Gandhi just glances in Nehru's direction.) I am asking Panditji to stand down. I want you to be the first Prime Minister of India (Jinnah raises an eyebrow of interest.) to name your entire cabinet, to make the head of every government department a Muslim.
And Jinnah has drawn himself up. His vanity is too great not to be
touched by that prospect. He measures Gandhi for a moment to see that he is sincere, and
when he is satisfied with that, he turns slowly to Nehru, Patel and Azad.
NEHRU: Bapu, for me, and the rest (his hand
gestures to Patel and Azad), if that is what you want, we will accept it. But out
there (he indicates the streets) already there is rioting because Hindus fear you
are going to give too much away.
It bears the stamp of undeniable truth. Gandhi's eyes sag with the
despair of a man whose last hope, whose faith, has crumbled around him.
JINNAH: It is your choice. Do you want an independent India and an independent Pakistan? Or do you want civil war?
Gandhi stares at him numbly.
On a platform in the foreground Mountbatten and Nehru. A band plays the Indian National Anthem loudly and there is the roar of a tremendous crowd as the green, white and saffron flag of India is raised on the flagpole.
On a platform in the foreground Jinnah and a British plenipotentiary. A band plays the new Pakistani National Anthem loudly and there is the roar of a tremendous crowd as the white, green with white crescent, flag of Pakistan is raised on the flagpole.
Silence. The little flagpole is empty, the rope dangling, flapping
loosely down the pole.
Featuring Kallenbach. He is taking the goat and tethering it near the path of the ashram. He stills the bell with his hand. As he ties it the camera angle widens and we see Margaret Bourke-White sitting on the grass, watching Kallenbach and looking off toward Gandhi's bungalow.
BOURKE-WHITE: Aren't you being a little overprotective?
Kallenbach looks at her. Her tone criticizes more than his stilling the goat's bell.
KALLENBACH: Tomorrow. Tomorrow photograph him.
Kallenbach stands and looks across at her, judging, then appealing to her humanity.
KALLENBACH: It is violence, and the fear of violence, that have made today what it is . . . Give him the dignity of his grief.
Bourke-White grabs a clump of grass, twists it free, and sighs. She tosses the grass vaguely at the goat.
BOURKE-WHITE: And while we're sitting here feeding goats, what will happen to all the Muslims in India and the Hindus in Pakistan?
Kallenbach stops, staring absently at the ground ahead, then
KALLENBACH: Gandhi will pray for them . . .
The camera is high (helicopter) and moving and from its position we
meet and then pass over an immense column of refugees ten, twenty abreast
moving down one side of the railroad track toward camera. Women, children, the sick, the
aged, all burdened with bedding, utensils, household treasures, useless bric-a-brac and
trudging with them every type of cart, wagon, rickshaw, pulled by donkey, camel, bike,
oxen. It stretches endlessly to the horizon. Tiny green, white and saffron flags here and
there indicate that it is a Hindu column and spotted through it we see people in fresh
bandages, some on stretchers, sticking out like radioactive tracers in the huge artery of
The sound of the vast refugee column. A woman's arms cradle a baby
in swaddling. Blood has seeped through the swaddling in three or four places, some of it
dried. Flies buzz around it. And suddenly we hear the woman's sobs and she rocks the baby
and we know it has stopped moving, stopped breathing, and a male hand gently touches the
back of the baby, checking, and the camera pans up to the face of a man.
The two columns and a howl of hate and grief! And the camera
sweeps to where men are running at each other across the track, some already fighting.
Knives, pangas, hatchets; women screaming and running; a beseiged wagon tipped.
A Muslim pulled through broken glass in an urban market shop./ Night: a Hindu temple daubed with blood, the bodies of women and children strewn before it; screams, the sound of fighting./ Mud and straw houses burning, figures running through them./ A city street: a truck crashes into a barricade of rickshaws and bales, and is set upon by a swarm of knife- and panga-bearing men. From the back of the truck opponents with swords and clubs leap into battle.
Chaos. It and the adjoining office have been made into something
like operations rooms. Military and civilian aides move back and forth. Telephones at work
everywhere. A huge map on the wall is constantly having data changed by people receiving
NEHRU (fast, curt): No. There just are not
that many troops.
He turns. Patel has a message he was going to present to him. He hesitates, grins dismally, and crumples the message "No use." Nehru sags. He looks at Patel with haggard eyes.
NEHRU: He was right. It's insane anything would
have been better.
Nehru nods solemnly.
NEHRU: He's in Noakhali.
Patel reacts to that surprise, apprehension.
NEHRU: He's tramping from village to village no police, no troops trying to quell the madness single-handedly. (He sighs, half in admiration, half in hopeless exasperation at the old man's audacity.) Maulana has gone to bring him back.
Patel nods grimly the noisy chaos of the room. Someone shouts at Nehru, "Prime Minister!"
In silence looking tragic, tired and defeated. He is sitting in his characteristic manner, staring down at the carpet before him.
NEHRU'S VOICE (dull, lifeless): What you have done in Noakhali is a miracle, Bapu, a miracle, but millions are on the move millions. There is no way to stop it . . . and no one can count the dead.
The camera angle has changed. We are in
Patel and Azad are there and Pyarelal of course, and with them now the giant figure of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the first time we have seen him among Gandhi's intimate group.
NEHRU: In Calcutta it's like civil war. The Muslims
rose and there was a bloodbath, and now the Hindus are taking revenge and if we
can't stop it there'll be no hope for the Hindus left in Pakistan.
It is an empty and despairing echo of Gandhi's words.
AZAD: Aren't there any troops to spare?
He has turned and seen Gandhi standing slowly. It has almost stopped him.
PATEL: Could we cut all news off? I know
He is moving toward the door. It stops them all. Pyarelal moves tentatively to open the door.
PATEL (impatiently): We need your help!
Gandhi turns, looks at him bleakly.
We are high. There are fires, the sounds of spasmodic gunfire, of
looting, screams, the roar of police vehicles and occasional sirens. The camera zooms in
on a poor quarter of artisan dwellings in narrow streets. Outside one of the houses is a
car, an army jeep, policemen, a few soldiers and a group of people. It seems a little
island of calm in a sea of wild chaos.
The figure is Gandhi. He peers down at the dark, rioting streets.
Azad, Tahib, a Muslim whose house this is, Mirabehn and Pyarelal are with him along Abdul
POLICE COMMISSIONER: Sir, please, I don't have the men
to protect you not in a Muslim house. Not this quarter.
There is a sudden commotion just below them and angry shouts:
"Death to Muslims!," "Death to Muslims!"
A YOUTH: There he is!
A feral roar goes up at the sight of Gandhi, but he stands unmoving.
HINDU YOUTH LEADER (his voice emotional, tearful): Why are you staying at the home of a Muslim! They're murderers! They killed my family!
Featuring Gandhi. It is a comment too grave for glibness, and Gandhi is obviously struck by the pain of it. He pauses for a moment, staring down at the youth:
GANDHI: Because forgiveness is the gift of the brave.
He makes it mean the youth. For a second it makes an impact, but then the youth shouts his defiance at him and his message.
YOUTH: To hell with you, Gandhi!!
An angry chorus of acclamation; when it dies
GANDHI (to the youth): Go do as your mother and father would wish you to do.
It is ambiguous, open-ended, meaning anything your mother and father
would wish you to do. Tears flush from the boy's eyes and he stares at Gandhi with a kind
of hopeless anguish and rage. But the impact is on the youth alone; around him the others
begin to take up the chant "Death to Muslims!," "Death to Muslims!"
GANDHI: I have lived a lifetime. If I had shunned death or feared it I would not be here. Nor would you be concerned for me. (He lets it sink in then he takes the commissioner's arm and moves back toward the center of the roof). Leave me and take your men. (An understanding touch of the arm.) You have more important things to worry about.
The commissioner looks at him, uncertain, not knowing what to do, as the angry chanting continues above the sound of rioting.
An old, inadequate hospital dark cavernous. Margaret
Bourke-White is moving among the densely packed litter of wounded women. She is
positioning herself to photograph Gandhi, who is speaking to a woman who cradles a small
baby. The corridors behind him are even more packed. The few doctors and nurses hardly
have room to move.
WOMAN: Bapu . . . Allah be with you . . .
There are tears in Gandhi's eyes now.
GANDHI: And with you. (He touches her wrinkled hand.) Pray . . . I cannot help you pray . . . pray.
And the weight of his helplessness hangs on him.
A streetcar (tram) crashes into a barricade of carts, rickshaws, a
couple of old cars, smashing through to breach the barricade, but stopped in the end by
the mass of debris. The streetcar is loaded with Indian troops and they break from the
stalled vehicle to chase
He speaks across his desk to a senior police commissioner. The same activity going on in the background.
NEHRU (angrily): No! There will not be a Hindu Police and a Muslim Police. There is one police!
An aide slips a newspaper on his desk in front of him. He doesn't
look at it till the senior commissioner lowers his head and turns, accepting defeat. Then
Nehru glances at the paper.
NEHRU: Why must I read news like this in the paper?
The aide shakes his head there's no answer. Nehru lowers his head again; it is like another burden on a man who already has too many. He grips his temples . . . a terrible sigh.
NEHRU: Tell Patel. Arrange a plane. We will go
Nehru thinks on it solemnly, then nods yes.
The sounds of rioting and looting on nearby streets, but here a mass of people are gathered. Many youths with black flags. Two black government limousines. Motorcycles. Police and soldiers. They are looking off to
It runs up the side of the building and is lined with waiting
people. Nehru and Patel are climbing the stairs, moving past them almost irritably as they
mutter "Nehru, Nehru," "Patel," and make the pranam to the
Nehru crosses and kneels so that he is almost at Gandhi's eyeline. Gandhi must take his eyes from his writing to look, and he is almost moved to tears at the sight of Nehru. His hand shakes a little as he holds it out to him.
NEHRU: Bapu . . .
Gandhi turns to pat their joined hands with his other hand. He does so with effort, and at last he sees Patel.
GANDHI: Sardar . . . (He looks him over.) You have gained weight. You must join me in the fast.
Patel sits near the head of the cot so the three of them are on a level. Outside the canopied area, Bourke-White is crouched, her camera framing the three of them.
PATEL (wittily, warmly): If I fast I die. If you fast people go to all sorts of trouble to keep you alive.
Gandhi smiles and reaches to touch hands with him.
NEHRU: Bapu, forgive me I've cheated. I could have come earlier. But your fast has helped. These last days people's minds have begun to turn to this bed and away from last night's atrocity. But now it is enough.
Gandhi shakes his head.
GANDHI: All that has happened is that I've grown a little thinner.
It is despairingly sincere. But Nehru feels he has an antidote for that despair. The distant sound of an explosion.
NEHRU: Tomorrow five thousand Muslim students of all ages are marching here in Calcutta for peace. (The real point) And five thousand Hindu students are marching with them. It is all organized.
Bourke-White captures the sense of elation in his face. From her
discreet distance, she lowers the camera, holding it against her mouth, waiting for
GANDHI: I'm glad but it will not be enough.
Nehru isn't prepared for this resistance. He glances at Patel, and we see that they recognize that their bland conviction that they could talk him out of the fast was deeply misplaced. Nehru turns back this time no confidence, only concern. A forced smile.
NEHRU: Bapu, you are not so young anymore.
Gandhi smiles, pain etched in his eyes. He touches Nehru's hand.
GANDHI: Don't worry for me death will be a deliverance. (There is water in his eyes, but his words have the weight of a man truly determined to die.) I cannot watch the destruction of all I have lived for.
Nehru stares at him, feeling the sudden fear that Gandhi means it. Patel, Mirabehn, Azad, Bourke-White are gripped by the same realization.
An outside broadcast truck is parked among the usual crowd, grown even larger now, and more women among them. The sounds of distant fighting.
The senior technician, in earphones, signals across to Mirabehn. She holds a microphone by Gandhi, who is lying on his side. He seems almost out of touch.
MIRABEHN: Bapu . . .
Gandhi looks at her, and then the microphone. When he speaks into the microphone his voice is very weak.
GANDHI: Each night before I sleep, I read a few words from the Gita and the Koran, and the Bible . . . (we intercut with Bourke-White and those on the roof watching) tonight I ask you to share these thoughts of God with me.
And now we go into the streets, intercutting with Gandhi but seeing Hindus listening around loudspeakers on corners, in little eating houses, Muslim shops where people live in the back, and neighbors gathering defensively in groups.
GANDHI (the books are there, but he does it from memory of course): I will begin with the Bible where the words of the Lord are, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" . . . and then our beloved Gita which says, "The world is a garment worn by God, thy neighbor is in truth thyself" . . . and finally the Holy Koran, "We shall remove all hatred from our hearts and recline on couches face to face, a band of brothers."
He leans back, exhausted. Mirabehn is looking at him; she starts to sing softly.
MIRABEHN: "Lead Kindly Light, amidst the circling gloom . . ."
Gandhi, his eyes closed, takes it up in his weak, croaking voice.
GANDHI/MIRABEHN: "The night is dark, and I am far from home, Lead thou me on . . ."
Two police motorcycles lead a black limousine to a stop before
Tahib's house. The crowd now gathered is very large. More mixed than before but still
predominantly of youths, many still with black flags.
NEHRU (hysterically): Who dares say such things! Who?! (And he is running at them and they spread in fear.) Come! Kill me first! Come! Where are you?! Kill me first!
The crowd has spread from him all along the street; they stand
against the walls of the houses staring at him, terrified to move. We see, just in
passing, the frightened, apprehensive faces of Godse, and near him, Apte and Karkare.
We are featuring a copy of Life Magazine. On the cover is a
picture of rioting men fighting and diagonally a cut-out of Gandhi lying on his cot. The
caption reads: "An Old Man's Battle." As the magazine starts to be opened, it is
suddenly put to one side.
MIRABEHN: His pulse is very irregular the kidneys aren't functioning.
Nehru looks across at Gandhi. The doctor, who is testing Gandhi's pulse yet again, glances at him no encouragement and moves away. Nehru moves to the side of the cot and Gandhi smiles weakly and holds out a hand, but he is in pain.
NEHRU: Bapu, I have brought Mr. Suhrawardy. It was he who called on the Muslims to rise; he is telling them now to go back to their homes, to lay down their arms.
Gandhi looks up at Suhrawardy, who nods. Gandhi looks back at Nehru. There is no hint of him changing his mind.
NEHRU (personally): Think what you can do by living that you cannot do by dying.
Gandhi smiles whimsically, he touches him again but there is no change in his attitude.
NEHRU (pleadingly): What do you want?
Nehru looks at him hopelessly.
A huge crowd, some smoke in distant buildings, some damage near to help us know this is still Calcutta, and all is not yet at peace. The camera sweeps over the crowd, past the loudspeakers on their poles. We see surly knots of belligerent rowdies, mostly young, but not all, hanging on the fringes as we move over the heads of the mass of listening people to a platform where Nehru speaks. Azad, Suhrawardy, and others sit on the floor behind him. We have heard his voice over all this.
NEHRU: . . . Sometimes it is when you are quite without hope and in utter darkness that God comes to the rescue. Gandhiji is dying because of our madness. Put away your "revenge." What will be gained by more killing? Have the courage to do what you know is right. For God's sake, let us embrace like brothers . . .
Featuring the Muslim leader Suhrawardy, leaning against a wall,
watching an action out of shot with evident tension. We hear a little clank of metal.
GOONDA LEADER: It is our promise. We stop. It is a promise.
Gandhi is looking at him, testing, not giving or accepting anything that is mere gesture.
GANDHI: Go try God by with you.
The Goondas stand. They glance at Suhrawardy; he smiles tautly and they start to leave, but one (Nahari) lingers. Suddenly he moves violently toward Gandhi, taking a flat piece of Indian bread (chapati) from his trousers and tossing it forcefully on Gandhi.
Mirabehn and Azad start to move toward him the man looks immensely strong and immensely unstable. But Gandhi holds up a shaking hand, stopping them. Nahari's face is knotted in emotion, half anger, half almost a child's fear but there is a wild menace in that instability.
NAHARI: Eat! I am going to hell but not with
your death on my soul.
Gandhi stares at him, breathless.
GANDHI (in a fearful whisper): Why? Why?
It is as though the man has told him of some terrible self-inflicted wound.
NAHARI (tears now and wrath): They killed my son my boy!
Almost reflexively he holds his hand out to indicate the height of his son. He glares at Suhrawardy and then back at Gandhi.
NAHARI: The Muslims killed my son . . . they killed him.
He is sobbing, but in his anger it seems almost as though he means to kill Gandhi in retaliation. A long moment, as Gandhi meets his pain and wrath. Then
GANDHI: I know a way out of hell.
Nahari sneers, but there is just a flicker of desperate curiosity.
GANDHI: Find a child a child whose mother and father have been killed. A little boy about this high.
He raises his hand to the height Nahari has indicated as his son's.
GANDHI: . . . and raise him as your own.
Nahari has listened. His face almost cracks it is a chink of light, but it does not illumine his darkness.
GANDHI: Only be sure . . . that he is a Muslim. And that you raise him as one.
And now the light falls on Nahari. His face stiffens, he swallows,
fighting any show of emotion; then he turns to go. But he takes only a step and he turns
back, going to his knees, the sobs breaking again and again from his heaving body as he
holds his head to Gandhi's feet in the traditional greeting of Hindu son to Hindu father.
A second, and Gandhi reaches out and touches the top of his head.
GANDHI (gently, exhaustedly): Go go. God bless you . . .
Trucks with riot squads (shields and truncheons) in place, but they
are lounging, waiting. There is silence, and air of somnolence. Some of the riot squad
lounge in little groups around the courtyard. A distant cough.
A constable mans the telephone. He listens as the senior riot squad officer and the sergeant run to him tensely. The sound of the great doors opening in the courtyard, more engines revving up.
CONSTABLE: Yes, sir, yes, sir, (He holds up his hand to the senior officer) "Wait."
He glances up at the senior riot squad officer.
CONSTABLE (writing, from the phone): Accident, "Christie crossroads," a lorry and a rickshaw. Yes, sir, I have it.
He shrugs at the senior riot squad officer and hands the information
slip to another constable behind the desk.
The senior riot squad officer and the sergeant stand in the doorway as the engines die. The men relax . . . the silence returns. A dog barks distantly, disturbed by the noise . . . A bird caws once or twice.
SERGEANT: I wouldn't have believed it, Mr. Gupta.
It lies in silence.
Mirabehn is bent over Gandhi. He is curled almost in the fetal position, his face looking wan and sunken. For the first time there is silence, no explosions, no distant shouts, no gunfire.
MIRABEHN: Bapu, there's been no fighting anywhere. It has stopped the madness has stopped.
We see the police commissioner, Suhrawardy, two doctors, Abdul
Ghaffar Khan, and some others. Nearer Gandhi, behind Mirabehn, are Nehru, Patel, Azad and
GANDHI: It is foolish if it is just to save the life of
an old man.
His weary eyes look at her; he looks up slowly to Azad. Azad nods "It's true." Then Patel
Gandhi looks at Nehru. Nehru just nods tautly. Gandhi looks down, then lifts his head to Azad.
GANDHI: Maulana, my friend, could I have some orange juice . . . Then you and I will take a piece of bread together . . .
The relief brings water to their eyes and grins to their faces. Nehru bends to Gandhi. Gandhi holds his hand out to him, and Nehru clutches it. Then
NEHRU: You see, Bapu, it is not difficult. I have fasted only a few hours and I accomplished what you could not do in as many days.
It is a joke in their way with each other and Gandhi's eyes light, his smile comes. But it is tired. He puts his other hand over Nehru's and Nehru lowers his head to it, crying silently.
As in the opening sequence but a few minutes earlier. The crowd is beginning to gather for the evening prayers. We see a tonga or two, a gardener opening the gate to the garden, three policemen standing, talking idly among themselves.
Laughter. Gandhi is eating muli; he holds his head back to capture the lemon juice. We hear the click of a camera
GANDHI: That is how you eat muli.
Manu hands him a cloth and he wipes his hands. Another click of a camera. He is not fully recovered, but well on the way.
GANDHI (to the photographer): I'm not sure I want to be remembered that way.
It is all light and for fun. We get a wide-angle shot now and see that Bourke-White is shooting one of her favorite subjects again. She is enjoying the banter, as is Mirabehn, who is spinning quietly to one side of the room, and Patel, who sits cross-legged like Gandhi on the floor. Pyarelal is working on papers with him but grins at this.
BOURKE-WHITE: Don't worry, with luck you may not be.
And she shoots him again, as he hands the cloth back to Manu. Abha is sitting next to Manu, looking at a collection of pictures of Gandhi, obviously Bourke-White's.
PATEL: No, he'll be remembered for tempting fate.
It is wry, but waspishly chiding. Abha suddenly holds a picture up for Gandhi to see. It's one of him, ears wide, eyes round.
ABHA: Mickey Mouse.
Gandhi taps her on the head with his finger as she smiles. But Bourke-White has looked from Patel to Gandhi, clearly shaken by the implication in Patel's words.
BOURKE-WHITE: You really are going to Pakistan, then? (Gandhi
shrugs, and she chides too) You are a stubborn man.
Abha has signaled to the cheap watch dangling from his dhoti. He glances at it, and holds his arms out. The two girls help him.
BOURKE-WHITE: And what kind of a warrior have you been in that warfare?
She is photographing his getting-up and leaning on the two girls.
GANDHI: Not a very good one. That's why I have so much tolerance for the other scoundrels of the world.
He moves off, but has a sudden thought and turns to Patel.
GANDHI: Ask Panditji to to consider what we've discussed.
Patel nods soberly and Gandhi starts for the door, Bourke-White moving with him.
GANDHI (of the photographs): Enough.
He has passed her, he's in the doorway. We see the crowd at the end of the garden, where the light of the day is beginning to soften. He turns, teasing in his slightly flirtatious way with women.
GANDHI: You're a temptress.
She shoots him against the door the crowd milling distantly, waiting then she lowers her camera.
BOURKE-WHITE: Just an admirer . . .
He turns; the last words have betrayed the smile on his face; they
have a painful sense of truth about them. Bourke-White watches as he moves into the garden
toward the crowd in the distance.
BOURKE-WHITE: There's a sadness in him.
It's an observation and a question. Mirabehn accedes gravely.
MIRABEHN: He thinks he's failed.
Bourke-White stares at her, then turns to look out at him.
BOURKE-WHITE: Why? My God, if anything's proved him right, it's what's happened these last months . . .
Mirabehn nods, but she keeps on spinning and tries to sound cynically resigned but her innate emotionalism keeps breaking through in her voice and on her face.
MIRABEHN: I am blinded by my love of him, but I think when we most needed it, he offered the world a way out of madness. But he doesn't see it . . . and neither does the world.
It is laced with pain. Bourke-White turns and looks out at Gandhi so tiny, so weak as he walks between his "props." He has now reached the end of the garden and is moving among the crowd assembled there.
Gandhi is moving forward in the crowd, one hand resting on Manu, the other on Abha. He makes the pranam to someone, the crowd is bowing to him, some speaking, and we also see the crowd from his point of view "Bapu," "God bless you," "Thank you thank you." He turns to a very old woman, who makes a salaam to him. Gandhi touches her head.
GANDHI: Allah be with you.
Smiling, he turns back. A jostling, the sound of beads falling.
MANU (to someone): Brother, Bapu is already late for prayers.
Gandhi turns to the person; he makes the pranam.
GANDHI: Oh, God . . . oh, God . . .
Manu and Abha bend over him, silent in their first shock. The sound of panic and alarm begins to grow around them, they suddenly scream and begin to cry.
MANU/ABHA: Bapu! Bapu!
A helicopter shot coming slowly up the wide river, low, toward a
barge and a mass of people in the distance.
GANDHI'S VOICE (weak, struggling, as he spoke the words to Mirabehn): . . . There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it always . . . When you are in doubt that that is God's way, the way the world is meant to be . . . think of that.
And slowly the camera begins pulling back, leaving the flowers, the
brown, rolling current as though leaving the story of Gandhi, going far out, away from the
great river, reaching higher and higher, through streaks of clouds as end titles begin.