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Saturday September 23rd 2023

Gandhi | 1982

Gandhi filming location: Rajpath and India Gate, New Delhi
Gandhi location: Gandhi's funeral preocession: Rajpath and India Gate, New Delhi | Photograph: Wikimedia / Gughanbose

Ben Kingsley’s performance and the big set pieces enliven this worthy, coffee-table epic biopic, which was made almost entirely in India, including the ‘South African’ scenes.

General Smuts’ office is Hyderabad House, near India Gate, New Delhi, built in1928 as a residence for the ruler of Hyderabad, from designs by architect Edwin Lutyens. Ultimately regarded as too Western in style, it was used as a guesthouse for visiting dignitaries.

The enormous funeral procession, as with so many other scenes, was filmed on the actual location of the real event, from Rashtrapati Bhavan – the Viceroy’s Palace in Delhi – down Rajpath (the 'King's Way') to India Gate.

Scenes were also shot at Gandhi’s birthplace, the coastal city of Porbandar.

The protest at the salt works and the ‘Calcutta’ riots were filmed in Mumbai, with the shipboard scenes shot on board the MS Dwarka in the city’s port.

More filming took place at the Aga Khan Palace, Pune Nagar Highway, Pune, southeast of Mumbai, where Gandhi was interned during the Quit India Movement in 1942. It’s now designated as a Gandhi Memorial and is open to the public. Also in Pune were the ‘South African’ mosque scene and the protest in the Imperial Theatre. The 'South Africa Town Hall' scene was shot in Fergusson College in Pune.

Patna in the northeast was the setting for the Champaran indigo farmers’ riots, and the train scenes were staged in Udaipur. A small railway station near Faridabad doubled as the 'Sabarmati station'.

The assassination was filmed on the spot where Gandhi was actually shot, in the gardens of Gandhi Smriti (formerly Birla House), 5 Tees January Marg, New Delhi, also a national memorial.

Gandhi location: Kingsley Hall, Bromley-by-Bow, London E3
Gandhi location: Gandhi stays in London’s East End: Kingsley Hall, Bromley-by-Bow, London E3

English locations include Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, Bromley-by-Bow London E3, in the East End, seen in the newsreel of Gandhi’s visit to London. This really is where Gandhi stayed in 1931, as a Blue Plaque attests; also the Institute of Directors Club, 116 Pall Mall, seen also in the 1956 Around The World In 80 Days, became the Viceroy's office in India.

The Old Town Hall Arts Centre, Market Square, Staines in Berkshire used to be the council HQ. It was restored and in 1994 opened as a theatre and function room. It became the ‘Indian’ courtroom, where Judge Broomfield (Trevor Howard) sentences Gandhi to six years imprisonment for sedition. It’s since been seen in Ali G Indahouse.