Multi-media artist Gigi Scaria’s numerous projects include videos. One of them, made in 2007, is an affecting portrait of Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring influence.
Raise your hands those who have touched him (2007) comprises interviews with a cross-section of people who either met or saw Gandhi during the freedom struggle from British rule. The conversations reveal the aura that surrounded Gandhi, the effect he had on people, and the avidity with which numerous Indians followed his movements. In modern language, we would have called him a celebrity.
He was “very thin”, and radiated a “strange energy”, an “astonishing energy”. His brisk walk showed his “total confidence”. His “frail body looked like beaten copper”. Nirmala Deshpande, the Gandhian activist who met him when she was a child, said she was “spellbound” when she first laid eyes on him.
The interviews, which also cover the post-Independent period and include Partition, reveal the hopes, aspirations and anxieties of Indians in an era of tremendous upheaval. Some of the subjects have their differences with Gandhi. But as Scaria’s important oral history project reveals, his charisma is never in doubt. The film is available on YouTube.