Sir Richard Attenborough – Creator of the Classic Film, Gandhi

Shobhana Ranade


The film “Gandhi” produced and directed by Sir Richard Attenborough is considered as an all–time classic. It is one of those films, which created very deep impact in all corners of the world. It ran for days together with the cinema houses packed to their capacity. The stories appeared in the press during its screening how it influenced and changed the lives of the
individuals after witnessing it.
For Sir Richard himself the completion of this film was the fulfilment of a fondly cherished dream. He derived immense satisfaction while working on it. The most prestigious organization selecting film and its creators for rewards, the Oscar Awards found this film worthy of five awards for its different aspects. This film created on the life of Mahatma Gandhi was successful in doing justice to its subject to a great extent.
Some of the scenes of this great film were filmed at Aga Khan Palace in Pune. This was the Palace where Mahatma Gandhi and his wife with Gandhi’s entourage were kept during Mahatma’s last imprisonment of his life. It was at this place where Mahatma’s wife and lifelong partner Kasturba Gandhi breathed her last within a few days after they were
arrested. It was also at this Palace that Gandhiji’s most trusted, efficient and devoted secretary, Mahadev Desai also breathed his last. The enclosure of this Palace contains two memorials of these two devoted and lifelong companions of Mahatma Gandhi. Thus this place had important association with Gandhi’s life.
The entire complex of Aga Khan Palace has been turned into a permanent memorial. It is looked after by a society constituted for the purpose and named as Gandhi National Memorial Society.
Almost from the day of the inception of this society, the well-known  Gandhian social worker Smti Shobhana Ranade has acted as its secretary. This society played host to Sir Richard Attenborough and his team. The team worked on the campus for 12 days and a warm and cordial relationship developed between Shobhana Ranade and the team led by Sir Richard Attenborough. Smti Ranade recalls in this article some of the interesting experiences and incidents that took place in course of the shooting of the film at Aga Khan Palace.
We find that Sir Attenborough took great care to see that shooting of the film at the palace did not hurt the sentiment of the management as well as the people of India. He harboured the deepest respect for the Mahatma and his teachings. It was this deep faith and respect that led to the creation of an immortal classic-“Gandhi”.
Ishani is grateful to Shobhana Ranade for agreeing to write down her reminiscences of Sir Richard Attenborough working at Aga Khan Palace. The experiences and incidents described have a great human value but they also have historical significance to the best of our knowledge. These details are being published here for the first time. We experience great satisfaction for this development.

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