How Gandhi’s Celibacy And Austerity Have Defined The Hindi Film Hero?


Sex has always dominated Hindi cinema – but in a curious hide-and-seek sort of way.

Sanjay Suri argues that Hindi cinema was the unlikely offspring of the Father of the Nation in this respect – a product of his celibacy and austerity. Gandhi’s heroic retreat from wealth and sexuality was written into the cinema and then elaborately filmed shot by shot. Just about every film brings up these two themes for the hero to then rise above.

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Suri draws on numerous examples – from Mother India to Do Bigha Zameen; Naya Daur to Pyaasa; Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam to Guide; and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to Lage Raho Munna Bhai – to show how cinema was made within well-defined moral fences that were built with dos and don’ts about sex and money.

In the 150th year of his birth, A Gandhian Affair is a history of India through the preoccupations of its cinema under the spell of the Mahatma.

AUTHOR BIO Sanjay Suri has been a London-based journalist since 1990. He studied at Delhi University and the London School of Economics. He is the author of Brideless in Wembley, Naked Rain and Other Poems and 1984: The Anti-Sikh Violence and After.

The Press Release First appeared in Storizen Magazine August 2019 Issue