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Upperstall Review

Synopsis


Gandhi to Hitler

 

Hindi, Drama, 2011, Color





1939 - Adolf Hitler's ruthless ambition for German expansion in Eastern Europe is becoming increasingly violent and inhuman. Whereas another nation, India, struggles in its fight for freedom against the British as the idealistic Mahatama Gandhi continues to appeal to his countrymen to adopt a stand of non-violence. A stark contrast in ideologies even with an eventual common opponent, Gandhi one day decides to pen a letter to the German dictator... a letter he hoped would persuade Hitler to change his path and avoid the Second World War, avoid the massive calamity that it would bring on. Gandhi to Hitler also looks at Hitler's downfall, his last days when only his love Eva Braun and his trusted aide Joseph Goebbels stood by him, as Germany crumbled around him and his trusted comrades deserted him; and through the central young couple Balbir and Amrita we see that the fate of many was determined by the ideology that they chose to adopt...



Ruchi Pugalia, the costume-in-charge of this latest piece of historically inaccurate ‘masterpiece on World Peace’ (as humbly presented on posters), is probably the only crew member with a bright future. I’m also willing to wager that she was NOT the only crew member who was completely clueless about the story, purpose and alleged plot of this film.

Director Rakesh Ranjan Kumar brings us a muddled mess of unfathomable shallowness that could very well pass off as a haphazard school history project. Or an amateur docudrama gone bizarrely wrong. Even if the facts were not spot-on (cinematic liberty, if you may), you’d expect some degree of coherent narration or common sense- considering the sensitivity of subject material at hand. It would be too harsh to call this a ‘dishonest’ effort but when you watch stock footage aplenty and random historical representations making up atleast half of the film’s running time, there seems little choice but to call this project lazy and tangential. Never mind that the Gandhi angle seemed to have been inserted reluctantly only after the title had been conceived. If some sort of metaphorical correlation between the two lives was intended, the filmmakers have failed sensationally.

Other than the alluring fact that Gandhi did, indeed, write a few letters to Hitler in 1940, there was really nothing else that could have been exploited - and it shows. There are times when you wonder what the whole Indian angle has been thrown in for, especially when you are forced to watch Aman Verma and his merry band of troops trudging through Desi jungles up North that are labeled as the borders of France, Switzerland and Germany at different points of time (read different dirt paths). That there is a bigger picture that has something to do with Bose’s constant struggle with Gandhi’s ideals is totally lost on us because of murky storytelling.

This film seems to have been made primarily to portray to us the inner struggle that ‘poor Hitler’ may have gone through during his last week in the Bunker when most of his close allies began to betray him. The poor chap. He gave up his ‘fight’, and defended his honour. Now this is not what I (or anyone in their sane mind) believe, but this is what the film seems to be telling us or atleast that is how it comes across on screen. If the other release this week Khap went wrong by presenting to us two sides of an argument that involves Honour Killing (there is only ONE side)- then this piece of work goes terribly wrong by presenting to us only ONE side (‘human’ aspect, as they call it) of the greatest mass murderer/leader in World History. And guess what, the wrong side has been chosen.

Clearly. As far as technicalities are concerned, there is some sort of consistency. The editing is unbelievably amateur, and it almost feels like the editor has newly discovered Windows Moviemaker and proceeds to go wild with the variety of transitions. The cinematography seems to be restricted by a limited budget so much so that the entire film seems to have been shot in India with Indian extras and junior artistes parading as Germans, Russians, Frenchmen and…Indians. There is also something very disconcerting about watching Hitler (Yadav) and his chums spit out orders in chaste Hindi and Braun (Dhupia) resembling a classy vamp. Even if the language issue is pardonable, do not show us a tanned soldier dude and expect us to believe he is Russian. And what’s with this latest trend of having CG fires? Is it really so tough to lend that last touch of authenticity by creating a REAL bonfire and then filming it as destroyed rubble? If you make a film dealing with a topic as vast as this (being universal and all), you better have the moolah or resourcefulness to back it up. If not, well, make a comedy.

Yadav tries his best to emulate one of the greater performances in cinematic history (Bruno Ganz in Der Untergang), but is bound massively by vague dialogue and sloppy direction. Dhupia as Eva Braun has made it clear that she can act only if a director is smart enough to pass her off as a satirical wheel. The rest of the cast is too Indian (read non-German) for my liking. In the context of this particular film, that is not a good thing.

Kumar may have been inspired by the brilliant and delicately balanced Der Untergang (The Downfall) about the last days of the dictator in that infamous bunker, which is obvious from the elaborate production design and familiar framing/lighting of most scenes. The only thing(s) missing was a half-sensible screenplay, competent acting and decent vision, which made this effort seem more inspired by the famous Hitler parody videos that have taken YouTube by storm. The best part about this film is you don’t really need to subtitle the popular Hitler breakdown scene to make it a parody.

- Reel Reptile

 




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