in my opinion, gandhi is a martyr and leader greater than jesus (because his legend obscures the facts and because of what’s been done in his name). the film, rightly, begins by acknowledging that no single telling of a man’s life can possibly do his work justice and, if you view the film in this way, it’s a great picture. the film not only reveals the greatness of gandhi’s message and deeds, but, ironically and maybe unintentionally, also shows the greatness of his chief rival – the british government. if not for the relative civility of the british government, gandhi would not have been able to flourish and succeed on the level that he did. if, for example, gandhi was battling the oppression of the nazi regime, he would be relegated to a mere paragraph in our history books. but because the british did, to some extent, respect and believe in their (admittedly flawed) laws, gandhi was able to succeed in helping free india. again, this is ironically a victory for the british, though they may not see it that way.
the final act of the film shows gandhi as two things: the country’s conscience and a leader whose time has passed. when he fasts for internal peace, both muslims and hindi comply because of their collective respect for this great man. but i see this as a blip, especially with the hindsight we have here in 2007. when it comes to the war of uniting muslims and hindi, gandhi was vastly outmatched. an adversary like the british government, for all its brute military strength, is nothing when compared to the ideological divide of muslims and hindi people. fighting that battle was likely beyond his ability, even if he were to have lived to attempt to tackle it in earnest.