This is the first complete audio-visual documentary biography of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. All events and principles of Gandhi's life and thought are viewed as integrated parts of his truth-intoxicated life depicting permanent and universal values and not merely as stray events of history.
The purpose of the film is to tell the present and the future generations "that such a man as Gandhi in flesh and blood walked upon this earth", to acquaint them with his life and work and to spread his message of peace and universal brotherhood to the war-weary and fear-stricken world - a message that is bound to endure and grow in the understanding of man.
In accordance with this aim, it was tried to translate Gandhi's ideas in celluloid which involved many years of deep research and hard labour. The film brings together a mass of visual record not only of 78-year life of Gandhi but also of an important period of India's history.
"No man can write a real life of Gandhi", wrote Jawaharlal Nehru, "unless he is as big as Gandhi".
If it is difficult to write a biography of Gandhi, perhaps it is more difficult to prepare a biographical documentary film of his life - that too under all kinds of limitations.
Every possible attempt is made to see that the film remains documentary in the full sense of the term. The aim of the film being education and not entertainment, there is no attempt at dramatization of those exciting times. The story is told with an eye to truthful documentation of the main events within the limits of available documentary visual material. It is hoped that though no attempt is made at embellishment, truth itself stated, as far as possible, in Gandhi's words in all its dignity and simplicity would convey the message to the audience with directness and precision characteristic of Gandhi's utterances and writings.
It was tried to organise and give shape to the scattered film material on Gandhi. The earliest film-shot of Gandhi used in the film is of 1912 taken during Gopal Krishna Gokhale's visit to South Africa. The photographs, documents, hooks, maps and paintings used in the film are all authentic. The new coverage is based on historical and authentic facts. The voices of Gandhi and other leaders have been used wherever available and possible.
A new generation is growing up to whom Gandhi is almost a name. It is fortunate that the film has been produced during the life-time of some of Gandhi's close associates and colleagues. This adds to its authenticity. The music of the film is composed in traditional Indian tunes by V. Shirali. It emerges spontaneously from the sequences of the film and is used only to produce the desired effect. Some of Gandhi's favourite hymns and devotional songs are adopted in their original form. At times complete silence is preferred. Effect sound also is created musically where necessary.
The narration is by Romesh Thapar.
This 30,000 feet documentary is divided logically into 33 reels. The first 6 reels deal with the first 45 years of Gandhi's life including his 21 years' stay in South Africa. This period is very important since it was during this period that the foundations of his life and work were laid. Great attention has been paid to those books read by Gandhi which influenced his thought and some of his important writings. The remaining 33 years of his life from 1915 to January 30, 1948 have been covered in the remaining 27 reels, which also depict important facets of the history of India's freedom struggle. Thus the film is perhaps one of the longest biographical documentaries of the world.