Was Mahatma Gandhi unknown before the ’Gandhi’ film? A look at his famous statues worldwide

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said nobody knew Mahatma Gandhi before biographical movie 'Gandhi' was released. In the backdrop of his statement, here's a look at some old and famous Gandhi statues worldwide.

Akriti Anand
Updated29 May 2024
Statues of Mahatma Gandhi Tavistock Square in London and at Park Marie Josee in Brussels
Statues of Mahatma Gandhi Tavistock Square in London and at Park Marie Josee in Brussels

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an interview that nobody knew Mahatma Gandhi earlier, and it was only after the release of the movie 'Gandhi' that the world became curious about him.

In an interview with ABP News on May 29, PM Modi said, "In the last 75 years, wasn't it our responsibility to make Mahatma Gandhi known across the world? Forgive me, but nobody knew Mahatma Gandhi. The curiosity about him grew in the world after 'Gandhi' film was first made."

"The role of this nation was –  if the world knows Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, Gandhiji was no less than them. Gandhi and India should have been given importance through Gandhi," the Prime Minister said.

'Gandhi' film released in 1982

Gandhi, the biographical movie based on the journey of the Father of the nation, the was released in 1982. The film spans 56 out of Gandhi's 79 years. The movie captures the "life of the lawyer [Gandhi] who became the famed leader of the Indian revolts against the British rule through his philosophy of non-violent protest".

'Gandhi' won eight Oscars at the 55th Academy Awards in 1983. Film director Richard Attenborough also won  BAFTA Awards for Best Film and Best Direction. The historical epic remains BAFTA's most nominated film with 16 nominations, of which it won five. He received a BAFTA Fellowship in 1983.

Was Gandhi not known before 1982?

In 1953, Gandhi was the subject of the American feature documentary 'Mahatma Gandhi: 20th Century Prophet'. In 1937, A. K. Chettiar started work on the documentary, IMDB said.

In 1963, British-American thriller-drama film 'Nine Hours to Rama' was released. It was directed by Mark Robson. The story follows a "fictional narrative" of Nathuram Godse's plan to kill Mahatma Gandhi. 

In 1968, a documentary titled 'Mahatma: Life of Gandhi, 1869–1948' was made on the life of Gandhi was directed by Vithalbhai Jhaveri.

Some famous and old statues of Gandhi across world

1. A Gandhi World Peace Memorial was built in 1950 inside Lake Shrine, California, USA, by the spiritual retreat's founder Paramahansa Yogananda. It was reportedly the "first monument in the world to be erected in honour of Mahatma Gandhi". It comprised a thousand-year-old Chinese sarcophagus, in which, a portion of Gandhi's ashes are kept in a brass-silver coffer.

2. One of the oldest statues of Mahatma Gandhi in Europe is located in Park Marie Josee in the Commune of Molenbeek in Brussels houses. The statue, sculpted by the renowned Belgian artist Rene Cliquet, was installed in 1969 to mark the 100th Birth Anniversary of Gandhiji, as per the information on the website of Indian Embassy in Belgium.

3. A statue of "UCL alumnus" Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled in Tavistock Square in London on May 17, 1968, by then Prime Minister Harold Wilson. According to the UCLA website, the statue, by British sculptor Fredda Brilliant, was gifted to London by the Indian High Commissioner in Britain in 1967 and unveiled by Wilson.

4. A statue of Gandhi was constructed close to the source of the Nile, in Jinga, Uganda in Africa, to mark his death and legacy. According to reports, in 1948, part of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were divided up to be scatter in several of the world's great rivers, including the Nile in Uganda. The memorial stands near that place. The bust was installed in 1997.

5. A Mahatma Gandhi statue was unveiled at the Voice of Vedas grounds by David Peterson, Premier of Ontario in Canada, on May 15, 1988. The project was sponsored by the Toronto Organization for the Promotion of the Indian Culture Inc., (TOPIC), a group formed in 1982. This information was shared by the Vishnu Mandir, "the first architecturally structured Hindu temple in Canada in Richmond Hill established in 1982".

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