Gandhi (1982)

Brief Intro

Released in 1982 and directed by Richard Attenborough, Gandhi is a cinematic masterpiece that chronicles the life of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s non-violent independence movement against British colonial rule. The film not only showcases the historical events but also delves deeply into the personal and ideological struggles of Gandhi, portrayed brilliantly by Ben Kingsley.

Literary Devices Used in Gandhi


Movie SceneDevice Example
Gandhi’s hunger strikeThe hunger strike serves as a metaphor for Gandhi’s dedication and self-sacrifice for the cause of Indian independence.
The salt marchRepresents the broader struggle for Indian self-reliance and resistance against oppressive laws.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Gandhi’s spinning wheelSymbolizes self-sufficiency and resistance to British industrial goods.
Burning of British clothRepresents the rejection of British economic dominance and a step towards independence.


Movie SceneDevice Example
British violence against peaceful protestersHighlights the irony of a ‘civilized’ empire using brutal force against non-violent resistance.
Gandhi’s arrestShows the irony of imprisoning a man who preaches and practices non-violence and peace.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Early scenes of Gandhi experiencing racism in South AfricaForeshadows his lifelong commitment to fighting injustice and inequality.
Gandhi’s conversations with his wifeHint at the personal sacrifices he will make for his cause.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Crowded streets of IndiaVividly depict the bustling life and struggles of ordinary Indians.
Scenes of violence and bloodshedConveys the brutality of colonial oppression and the cost of freedom.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Gandhi reading from the Bhagavad GitaAlludes to the spiritual foundation of his philosophy of non-violence.
References to British political figuresGrounds the story in historical context and highlights the global significance of Gandhi’s actions.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Peaceful protests vs. violent crackdownsEmphasizes the stark contrast between Gandhi’s methods and the British response.
Gandhi’s humble lifestyle vs. British opulenceHighlights the moral high ground of Gandhi’s simplicity.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Descriptions of British rule by Indian charactersOften exaggerated to stress the severity of colonial oppression.
British officials’ rhetoricSometimes uses hyperbole to justify their actions and dismiss Indian grievances.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Gandhi’s life storyFunctions as an allegory for the struggle for human rights and justice worldwide.
Scenes of Gandhi’s interaction with common peopleReflect broader social and political themes.


Movie SceneDevice Example
India as ‘Mother India’Personifies the nation as a nurturing and suffering figure.
British EmpireSometimes depicted with human-like arrogance and cruelty.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices


MetaphorGandhi himself becomes a metaphor for peace and non-violence.
IronyHis non-violent methods ironically provoke violent responses, highlighting the moral high ground he maintains.

Kasturba Gandhi

SymbolismRepresents the emotional and personal sacrifices behind the public figure of Gandhi.
JuxtapositionHer personal struggles are juxtaposed with the larger political struggles, showing the impact of Gandhi’s mission on his family.

Jawaharlal Nehru

ForeshadowingEarly interactions hint at his future role as India’s first Prime Minister.
AllegoryRepresents the educated, progressive future of India.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah

IronyHis initial cooperation with Gandhi turning into opposition shows the complexities of political alliances.
JuxtapositionHis political ambitions contrast sharply with Gandhi’s spiritual and moral approach.

Character Dynamics

The relationships between characters like Gandhi and Nehru or Gandhi and Jinnah drive the narrative, highlighting the tension between different visions for India’s future. Literary devices such as irony and juxtaposition are key in exploring these dynamics.

Thematic Analysis

Freedom and Independence

MetaphorGandhi’s hunger strikes symbolize the extreme lengths to which one must go for freedom.
SymbolismThe spinning wheel is a powerful symbol of self-reliance and resistance.


IronyThe violent responses to non-violent protests highlight the moral strength of Gandhi’s methods.
ImageryVivid scenes of peaceful protests emphasize the power of non-violent resistance.

Colonial Oppression

HyperboleExaggerated descriptions of British rule underscore its brutality.
JuxtapositionThe contrast between British opulence and Indian poverty highlights the injustices of colonialism.

Unity and Division

AllegoryGandhi’s efforts to unify India serve as an allegory for overcoming division.
ForeshadowingEarly tensions foreshadow the eventual partition of India and Pakistan.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
ImageryCinematographyUse of wide shots to capture the scale of protests and the Indian landscape.
SymbolismCostume DesignGandhi’s simple attire vs. British officials’ elaborate uniforms.
MetaphorMusicTraditional Indian music underscores scenes of cultural resistance and identity.

Key Scene Analysis

Salt March

Link to Scene

Breakdown: The Salt March scene employs a combination of powerful imagery, metaphor, and music to emphasize the significance of this act of defiance against British rule. The vast crowds and the sweeping landscapes underscore the unity and determination of the Indian people.

Assassination of Gandhi

Link to Scene

Breakdown: This poignant scene uses irony and juxtaposition, contrasting the violent act with Gandhi’s lifelong commitment to non-violence. The use of silence and slow motion heightens the emotional impact, leaving a lasting impression on the audience.


Interactive Quiz

  1. Which literary device is exemplified by Gandhi’s hunger strike?
  2. The spinning wheel in Gandhi symbolizes:
    • A) British industrialization
    • B) Self-sufficiency
    • C) Unity and division
    • D) Non-violence
  3. What device is used when the British violence against peaceful protesters is shown?
  4. The Salt March scene is an example of which device?
  5. Which character in the film represents the future of India through allegory?
    • A) Kasturba Gandhi
    • B) Jawaharlal Nehru
    • C) Mohammad Ali Jinnah
    • D) Mahatma Gandhi