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Gandhi ji watch a film! Ram Rajya or Mission to Moscow


I had gathered from internet: Vijay Bhatt.'s Ram Rajya (1943) was the only feature film Mahatma Gandhi ever watched. Read about it at Vijaybhatt.net . They even have a scan of old newspaper clipping that announced: M. Gandhiji Sees Prakash's "Ram Rajya": Historical Event of Indian Film Industry. According to the website it happened in 1945 while he was staying at Juhu, Bombay.

Then recently I came across the following passage in 'Colonial India and the making of empire cinema: image, ideology and identity' by Prem Chowdhry [Google Books]
In the late 1930s the marketability of nationalism and its viability were not merely in the films produced by Indians - most of which became popular hits - but also in the way producers, distributors and exhibitors advertised their products. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, was a favorite for advertising the films. Large size photographs of Gandhi adorned the film advertisements along the much smaller photographs of the lead hero or heroine. Yet other films were advertised as 'helper to the cause of Mahatma Gandhi', or invited the viewers to see their film, advertised as portraying 'the ideals of Mahatama Gandhi', or claimed that 'Mahatma Gandhi's immortal words inspire a picture' So much so that the distributors and exhibitors of a Hollywood film also felt it commercially prudent to put in a sponsored advertisement claiming, 'Mahatma Gandhi sees the first talking picture Mission to Moscow.' The report that followed suggested that Mahatma Gandhi considered this film to be of the 'right type'.
The British officials were aware of the public draw of the Mahatma's name in the film industry. They attempted to curb both advertisements and films that exploited the Mahatma's name.
Intrigued, a bit of searching lead me to cautious lines in 'Gandhi: the man, his people, and the empire' written by Rajmohan Gandh. According to the book, in 1944 while Gandhi was staying at Juha:
On 21, May he was persuaded to watch Mission to Moscow, a Hollywood movie made to popularize America's alliance with the Soviet Union, possibly the first talkie he had ever seen. It did not attract him to Stalin or Communism.
That makes Michael Curtiz's Mission to Moscow Gandhi's first.


After digging a little more, it turned out that 'Ram Rajya' in fact lost out to 'Mission to Moscow' by just twelve days thus only making it 'first Indian talkie to have been seen by Gandhi'. It turns out Gandhi may have caught a fairly decent amount of Cinema in a fortnight. Two film in 12 days in not bad. Gandhi saw 'Ram Rajya' on 2nd June 1944.

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