Nine Hours to Rama (1963)

 

 

 

Director:  Mark Robson

Starring:  Horst Buchholz (Naturam Godse), Jos Ferrer (Supt. Gopal Das), Valerie Gearon (Rani Mehta), Don Borisenko (Naryan Apte), Robert Morley (P.K. Mussadi), Diane Baker (Sheila), Harry Andrews (Gen. Singh), Jairaj (G.D. Birla), David (Det. Munda), Achala Sachdev (Mother), Marne Maitland (Karnick), Harold Goldblatt (Selvrag Prahlad), Wolfe Morris (Det. Bose), Francis Matthews (Rampure), Nagendra Nath (Magin Mehta).

Portrayal of the events leading up to Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

The police have gotten wind of an assassination plot against Gandhi.  They have picked up a suspect named Chacko.  Superintendent Gopal Das asks Chacko to help him save Gandhi by telling him everything he knows about the plot.  Chacko acknowledges that there is a plot but that is all he knows.  Das has to think fast.  He goes to a Hindu astrologer to ask the days that are deemed auspicious.  He learns that this very day is an auspicious day.  So now the pressure is really on Das and the police.  Das discusses with his assistants  the Society of Nations Saviors, a secret extremist Hindu society. 

Das grabs P.K. Mussadi to try to help him convince Gandhi that his life is in danger.  They talk to Gandhi but he will not budge.  He will take no precautions to prevent a possible shooting. 

Naturam Godse and his pal Naryan Apte are staying in a very low-end hotel (bring your own bedding).  The hotel managers tries to throw them out of their room because their time is up, but Godse gets him to let them stay in the hope of a possible room cancellation.  Godse blames Gandhi for "giving half the country away."  He blames Gandhi for the creation of Pakistan from India even though Gandhi worked as hard as he could to prevent partition. 

Flashback.  As a young boy Godse wanted to join the army.  But he is from the high Brahmin caste and his family has had a long history as priests and they are devastated by his wish to join the army.  His father arranges a marriage for him to a child bride.  But Godse will not give up his dream.  When he turns of age he tries to enlist.  But the army enlister throws him out when he learns that Godse is of the Brahmin caste saying that those of that caste just cannot take orders.  Godse is furious at the crushing of his dream. 

There is religious rioting in the country between Muslims and Hindus.  The Godse house is attacked and his father dies.  His mother tells him to repay violence with violence and that he must avenge his father.  Gandhi again gets the blame because Naturam believes that his politics caused all the religious rioting even though Gandhi worked extremely hard to stop the religious violence.  Naturam marries and he joins the Society of Nations Saviors.

Back to the present.  Naturam sees Rani's picture in the paper.  Naturam wanted to marry her, but his Society forbids marriage for its members and so Rani broke off the relationship. 

Flashback.  Naturam meets his intellectual hero, the man who runs the Society.  Godse tells him that he wants to join.  They accept him after warning him of the no-marriage clause and the fact that no one can leave the organization once they join.  He meets Rani for the first time and is taken by her beauty.  He speaks with her only to find that they are complete opposites on politics with Rani being a liberal and Naturam being an extremist Hindu. Somewhat later, he takes Rani on a bus trip to Nasik.  He finds out that she in married.  He tells her that he is falling in love with her.  But when she learns that he has reserved a room for them for the night she becomes insulted and demands that they return home. 

Back to the present.  The conspirators learn that their member Chacko has been arrested.  The leader Karnick tells them that they have to remain in hiding until 4 p.m.  Naturam says that just he and his buddy Apte will kill Gandhi. They are thrown out of their room. The two get separated and Apte shows up at the hiding place, while Naturam sees a movie.  He finds himself sitting next to a prostitute.  When the police come in the movie house, Naturam escapes with the prostitute.  They go to her place.  When he learns that she is a widow, he feels she has not been true to Hinduism, goes berserk and knocks her around.  He comes to his senses and apologizes, but the prostitute now certainly does not trust him.  Naturam talks to her about Rani. 

Flashback.  Naturam sees Rani at her restaurant on Malabar Hill.  They go for a picnic.  Naturam tells her that his young wife had died and that he had not touched her.  When the religous riots broke out she was raped and killed.  Rani says that she will ask her husband for a divorce.  This forces Naturam to tell her that he cannot marry her because of his oath.  Furious, Rani leaves.

Back to the present.  While Naturam sleeps, the prostitute takes his gun and leaves.  But she is picked up by a policeman who discovers the gun and arrests her.  Das sees that the police have rounded up hundreds of suspicious people and brought them to the police station.  Das talks with the prostitute and they follow her to her place to try to capture Naturam.  But Naturam leaves just before they arrive and joins the conspirators.  At the hiding place, Naturam has a disagreement with Karnick, who does not want Naturam and his buddy to leave before the designated time.  But with a new gun, Naturam forces them to let him and his leave the hiding place.  The buddies separate to meet later at the designated place. Naturam goes to see Rani.  He asks her to leave with him right now and when she says she can't do that to her husband, he leaves.  Apte has a change of heart.  He tells Rani about the assassination plot and they both go to the designated place in order to stop Naturam. 

It is almost 5 o'clock.  It is time for Gandhi to make his walk through the gathered crowd.  Gandhi has been depressed about the religious rioting and he is weak from his fast for peace that he recently ended.  Das and Mussadi try to stop him from walking with his two grandchildren through the gathered throng, but again Gandhi refuses any offer of protection and begins his walk.

Naturam waits in the crowd for Gandhi to come to him.  When Gandhi is very close, Naturam says to him: "You're late Gandhi."   He then empties his gun into the frail old man.  Gandhi says to him: "I forgive you my brother.  I bless you."  Hoping to get rid of Naturam, Karnick and an associate call for the crowd to kill the assassin.  But the crowd just sits down and remains down.  Naturam is arrested.  Shortly after, Karnick and his associate are arrested. 

 

An o.k. movie.  The love affair between Naturam and Rani disrupts the flow of the story of an infamous assassin.  The love story starts to make the audience start to sympathize with the couple and that is just distracting.  Also distracting was the use of many flashbacks.  The main actors are certainly not Indian and that also was a bit disturbing.  The movie would have been better if they had concentrated on it as a crime drama and political tragedy.  The acting was o.k.  J.S. Casshyap did a good job as Gandhi.  He had the look and accent of the great man. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

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