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 The Making of the Mahatma
The Making of the Mahatma
an epic film by SHYAM BENEGAL
Based on the book ‘apprenticeship of a Mahatma’

It all began in South Africa
A hundred years ago …
Resistance without violence
Confrontation without enemies
Victory without losers
The Making of the Mahatma


Gandhi – more relevant now than ever before!


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a young England-educated barrister-at-law then practising in Rajkot in Kathiawad is invited by an Indian firm in South Africa (originally from Probandar where Gandhi was born) to handle their law-suit. His services are required for not more than a year, and he would be paid “a first class return fare and a sum of 105 Sterling Pounds, all found.” M.K. Gandhi left India for South Africa in April 1893. He went there on a purely professional visit and had no idea of the previous history of the Indian emigrants. But during the very first year he was a witness to and the victim of unjust humiliation and racist hatred. The political and social repression of all Indians in South Africa, and especially the desperate condition of those who went as labourers on a system equivalent to legalized slavery, had made a deep and lasting impression on Gandhi. Indentured labourers were called ‘coolies’ by the Europeans. Hundreds of Europeans called Indian lawyers and Indian traders ‘coolie’ lawyers and ‘coolies’ traders.
As events developed, Gandhi had no option but to plunge into a long drawn-out struggle against injustice. Barrister M.K. Gandhi who had gone to South Africa for a year had to eventually stay in South Africa for twenty one years (1893-1914) from the age of twenty-four to the age of forty-five. During this time, he led the great Satyagraha struggle which closed after eight years (1906 –1914). The term satyagraha was invented and employed by Gandhi, first in South Africa.
M.K. Gandhi went to South Africa as a shy, tongue-tied, average little man whose past was full of failure. But almost a decade later, called a saint even by those who opposed him, he was a leader of 100,000 people in one of the most remarkable experiments in history – satyagraha, a war without violence. He returned to India not as M.K. Gandhi but Mahatma, ‘great soul’ – the man who was to free his country from foreign rule without firing a shot.
As a family man, Gandhi had to experience some melancholic events while in South Africa. When he landed at Durban in January 1897 he had with him his wife Kastur and two sons, nine and five years of age. For him Satyagraha began at home, but that was easier said than done.
The Making of the Mahatma is M.K. Gandhi’s early story of experiments with truth, which gave a mankind a new weapon of liberty, the most civilized and humane. The process of transformation from Gandhi, the man to Gandhi, the Mahatma is an exciting as soul searching and that’s what The Making of the Mahatma is all about.

Mahatma Gandhi Kanjit Kapur Director Shyam Benegal
Kasturba Pallavi Joshi Screenplay Fatima Meer, Shama Zaidi & Shyam Benegal
Rustomjee Keith Stevenson Editor Avril Beukes (S.A.G.E.)
Smut Paul Slabolepszy Music Vanraj Bhatia
Cachalia Himal Devnarain Director of Photography Ashok Mehta
Dada Abdullah Strini Pillai Costume Designers Pia Benegal (India), Diana Cilliers (S.A.)
Thambi Naidoo Charles Pillai Production Designers Mark Wilby
Adult Harilal Siraj Khan Executive Producers Ravi Gupta (India ), Georgina Kriel (S.A.)
Seth Tyeb Shafa’ath Khan Associate Producer Shan Moodley
Mir Alum Kacey Padayachee    
Mr. Chamney Douglas Bristow    
Kallenbach Zane Hannah    
Harilal (9) Bhavik Ganda    
Manilal (5) Janesh Ganda    
Manilal (12) Jatil Kassanjee    
Polak Bradley Mart    
Reverend Dube Mac Mathunjwa    
Magistrate Jordan Clive Scott    
Volksrust Magistrate Peter Ucko
Captain Milne Len Sparrowhawk
Pretora Jail Superintendent Peter Elliot
Boer Coach Leader Lieb Bester