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With Gandhi & Churchill sharing the same ground, can they finally become friends?

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Gandhi statue

By Harshmeet Singh

One of the biggest news of this week was the unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Britain’s famous Parliament square. The 9 foot tall bronze statue is ironically dedicated to the group of people he stood against – the loyal servants of the British Empire. Funded by the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust which was founded by Meghnad Desai, the statue was given shape by the famous British sculptor Philip Jacksonn.

When the British PM David Cameroon was unveiling his statue in the presence of Arun Jaitley, Amitabh Bachchan and Gopalkrishna Gandhi (Gandhi’s grandson), Bapu was being gazed at by his old nemesis, Winston Churchill.

Unveiled on the occasion of completion of 100 years of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa, the magnificent statue would be in an esteemed company of Sir Robert Peel, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and a number of other former British PMs.

Gandhi & Churchill

It is hard to imagine the installation of Gandhi’s statue going too well with Churchill, considering that the latter was a staunch opponent of everything Gandhi stood for.  In 1931, Britain invited Gandhi to hold peace talks. Gandhi saw no reason to change his attire before attending the important meeting with the Viceroy.  Not impressed with Lord Irwin’s decisions to carry on negotiations with Gandhi to ensure a political truce in India in 1931, Churchill remarked “It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, an Inner Temple lawyer, now become a seditious fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal Palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor. I am against these conver­sations and agreements between Lord Irwin and Mr. Gandhi. . . The truth is that Gandhi-ism and all it stands for will have to be grappled with and finally crushed.”

True to his image of remaining calm, Gandhi sent a letter to Churchill with the following words –

“Dear Prime Minister,

You are reported to have a desire to crush the simple ‘Naked Fakir’ as you are said to have described me. I have been long trying to be a ‘Fakir’ and that naked — a more difficult task. I, therefore, regard the expression as a compliment though unintended. I approach you then as such and ask you to trust and use me for the sake of your people and mine and through them those of the world.

Your sincere friend,

K. Gandhi”

Despite Churchill’s evident animosity towards him, Gandhi wanted to meet him when he was in London for the second round table conference, a request which Churchill refused. Churchill’s imperialistic approach was never in line with Gandhi’s democratic values. Churchill was ever so against the labour party’s decision to grant independence to India. The massive bloodshed during the partition gave him a reason to remind everyone of his views, saying “The fearful massacres which are occurring in India are no surprise to me.”

Never the one to hide his likes and dislikes, Churchill was all praise for Jawaharlal Nehru and called him “Here is a man who has conquered both hate and fear. A smartly dressed diplomatic Nehru was always going to be more pleasing to the eyes of Churchill. After the death of Mahatma Gandhi, condolences poured in from all across the world, excluding Churchill. Although he had gone a bit softer on Gandhi after he was ousted from the post of British Prime Minister, he could never like Gandhi enough.

Gandhi’s statue at the Parliament Square has intentionally been made slightly smaller in height than most of the statues already present in the area, indicating his will to be considered a common man. With Gandhi and Churchill sharing the same home now, let’s hope they finally become friends!

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Living up to professional demands: Amitabh Bachchan

I am a very proud father and I am delighted that the legacy of my father continues

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Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan Is Living up to professional demands.

Stunts can be risky at 75, but that’s not stopping Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan from doing any of it. He says there’s always an effort to meet professional demands.

The actor, who will next be seen in “102 Not Out”, has performed stunts for his other film “Thugs of Hindostan”.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. You’ve been off interview for quite some time now. What prompted you to stay away from interviews?

Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan will be in two films releasing soon.

Interviews mean being questioned by one, and the need for an answer by the other! I have had nothing to say, so what is the need for an interview. Now, there is a film on release and protocol and obligations towards media and interviews are the need of the hour for promoting what we have created, for the audience. And so here I am, selfishly, presenting myself for questioning.

Q. How has life been treating you during the past months? There were sporadic reports of ill health and injury. Has the body repaired and are you, as usual, infused with inspirational energy?

A. I have had some injuries during my work recently, which persist. These are related to some old action injuries of the past, catching up as the body ages. Treatments are on and to expect the body at this age to repair completely is wishful thinking.

Q. So one stumbles along “102 Not Out” which is your new release. Tell us what was it like like playing a 100-plus man?

The script and character analysis that was narrated to me by the director Umesh Shukla and the Writer Saumya Doshi, was to play a youthful 102. An attempt has been made!

Q. I feel your beard and white hair makes you look uncannily like painter M.F. Hussain.

A. Never thought about that. But since you say so I shall go with it.

Q. The film reunites you with Rishi Kapoor after decades. What was it like shooting with him after all these years?

A. It was as glorious, as it was all those past years and the historic films we did together. It’s not like we were separated at birth and were meeting after 27 years.
“102 Not Out” addresses itself to the question of mortality and longevity.

Also Read: At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence: Amitabh Bachchan

Q. Did you have discussions on these themes with the director and your co-star?

A. I do not possess the intellectualism to delve into such deep philosophies. But yes I do know that we are born to perish someday and how wonderful if we can live that life with the fulfilment the joys and the happiness that life brings.

Q. I believe you are doing some audacious stunts in “Thugs Of Hindostan”. Aren’t these risks not worth taking at the cost of your health and well being?

A. They are audacious and they are a risk. But then, I could well slip on a banana peel and head to Thy Kingdom Come. So… we try to live up to the professional demands required of us and proceed subsequently with adequate precaution.

Q. Your daughter Shweta has turned into a novelist. Your comments on that?

I am a very proud father and I am delighted that the legacy of my father continues. IANS