THE DISCOVERY OF NEHRU: An Experience of India by Kenneth Griffith

THE DISCOVERY OF NEHRU: An Experience of India

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When Griffith was asked by Indira Gandhi (and, after her assassination, by her son Rajiv) to make a movie about Jawaharlal Nehru, the British actor/filmmaker/author didn't know what he was getting into--as he shows in this brightly accomplished and offbeat view of contemporary India. Earlier, Griffith had produced films about Irish patriot Michael Collins, pamphleteer and gadfly Thomas Paine, and Robert Clive of India, each of them a fairly controversial figure. Despite the difficulties of writing and acting in these well-received films, however, Griffith was unprepared for the frustrations that attended the making of the Nehru biography. Indian bureaucrats, Moslem and Hindu zealots, even some members of his Film crew--all attempted to influence Griffith's approach to his subject. In addition to being an involving portrait of India's first Prime Minister, then, this is a flank and sometimes frightening analysis of the forces that divide the Indian subcontinent. Griffith discusses, for example, the impact that caste still has on Indian life and, most interestingly, compares the situation with the current black-white confrontation in South Africa. Many readers may Find his musings on South Africa simplistic and vaguely right-wing, as when he states that with the enfranchisement ""of all adults in the Republic of South Africa. . .the liberal-thinking world would very soon lose the biggest patch of democracy (limited now to European White Africans) that presently exists on the African continent."" Nonetheless, Griffith has thought about the parallels and brings a lively sensibility to the subject. He also turns his attention to such historical matters as the bloody Mutiny of 1858 and delves into the remnants of the British Raj that survive in today's India. Lively and balanced, and far more manageable for most readers than M.J. Akbar's monumental Nehru: The Making of India (1989).

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Michael Joseph/Viking