The good part about Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara is that it is not ostensibly about human emotions or patriotism or morality or any of those murky, viscous and unwieldy concepts that filmmakers (and many others) often try to simplify – simplify into the better and the worse, the higher and the lower; simplify into an animalistic pecking order.
The good part is that this movie is just a simple, lighthearted story that flutters of its own free will from one area to another; without preaching, moralising or attempting to make the audience sympathize. Make no mistake - it might be an oppressing emotional drama, but the treatment is as lighthearted as that of real life. It is what you can choose to sink in as much as you lack the friction. Or what you can float out of, without a scrape. As much as a Forrest Gump, Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara wields the weighty elements of life with the dissociation of a passerby.
The story is about Uttam Chaudhary, a distinguished professor of Hindi who falls prey to Alzheimer's dementia. When his condition worsens, he begins to hallucinate about being jailed as the assassin of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The movie is about his journey through the confusion and the distress, with his daughter struggling to understand him and to come to terms with his condition at the same time.
While the rest in the family – Trisha's two brothers, Ronu (Rajat Kapoor) and Addy (Addy) – manage to view his condition clinically, Trisha is sucked into his world, driven both by empathy and her immense attachment to her father. She suffers as he gets mired further and further in his condition, and winces when he begins to forget his favourite poem that he recited to her all her life; forgets that he has retired and that his wife has passed away.
Trisha's vexation and heartache as she watches the rapid downslide of her father is played by Urmila with superb credibility. Addy and Rajat Kapoor are just right in their roles as well. Parveen Dabbas, who comes in later as a psychiatrist, is extremely easy on the eyes, and not too bad at acting either.
The second half of the movie is the journey of Uttam back from a rampageously deluded mind to one that is grounded enough to allow for a livable existence. Boman Irani comes in, in a slightly overdone court scene that sticks out lumpily in the substance of the movie.
There are actors galore, just as there are facets galore of the situation that are effortlessly captured by the director's eye. Trisha loses her job, and her boyfriend of four years goes on to dump her without a word when his parents disapprove of their marriage, having seen her father's condition. The multi-layered ramifications of the disease are not missed in the script, making it a sensitive, unhurried movie.
Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara is not a movie you can miss, for rarely does it happen in Bollywood that intelligent cinema like this makes its way to the mainstream. Even if you do not have much of an appetite for sentimental drama, watch it as a one-off venture. As the kind of infrequent masterpiece that will sit in a cultural museum. Of course, you can rest assured that you will thoroughly enjoy the process.