Released in 2006, Lage Raho Munna Bhai is a movie directed by Rajkumar Hirani, screenplay by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and starring talented actors like Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Vidya Balan, Boman Irani, etc that proved to be a massive hit on the box office. The story begins with Munna Bhai being in love with the radio jockey Jhanvi. To win a chance to meet her, he cheats his way through the Mahatma Gandhi quiz and passes. When he finally meets Jhanvi, Jhanvi requests him to give a lecture on Mahatma Gandhi to the old people in her house. Munna who pretended to be a History professor and a Mahatma Gandhi fan has no choice left but to study all about Mahatma Gandhi for the remaining 3-4 days that he has left until the fixed date. This causes an extensive load on his brain due to which Munna Bhai starts hallucinating about Mahatma Gandhi’s persona.
The whole story moves forward with a battle against the corrupt Lucky Singh who deceives Munna and takes over the 2nd Innings House (of the old men) versus Munna Bhai who fights back using Gandhigiri. All along the movie Munna’s hallucinations of Gandhi continue to help him win and showcases Gandhi’s ethics that were long forgotten. Lage Raho Munna Bhai leaves its viewers with a deep sense of morality and Gandhigiri along with bouts of humor and comedy that keeps the audience engaged throughout the end, making it such a massive hit.!
The movie succeeds in reminding the long-forgotten ethics laid by Mahatma Gandhi for the country that he visioned. Below are the major matters that the movie tackles by implementing the concept of Gandhigiri. A neologism that refers to implementing and following the methods and guidelines laid and preached by Mahatma Gandhi. Throughout the movie, Munna acts as a spokesperson for Gandhiji’s values.
Here are some of the valuable lessons from the movie:
1. Truth – Truth is one of the fundamental teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. In this movie too, the value to always speak the truth no matter what is depicted firmly. There are 3 major instances when the characters are encouraged to speak the truth. The first instance is when Munna hides his real identity from Jhanvi and is later persuaded by Gandhi to tell Jhanvi the truth.
The second instance is when Munna and Jhanvi start their ‘Gandhigiri’ program to help people and a caller explains his desire to die as he doesn’t have the courage or way to return the hard-earned money of his father. To this Munna convinces the caller to tell his father the truth honestly and work hard to return the money. No matter how small the amount he earns or how long it takes to return the money Munna requests the caller to speak the truth.
The last instance is when Lucky’s daughter runs away from her wedding because she is upset about the lie that her father told her in-laws about her not being ‘Manglik’. Munna advocates her to face whatever it is and to tell the truth to her in-laws. Further, he comforts her by saying that if the boy loves her then he will not care about such stuff and will still marry her regardless of all this.
2. Non-Violence – This is the 2nd fundamental teaching of Mahatma Gandhi. Non-violence is also preached through the movie in a very subtle and effective way. The first example of non-violence in the movie is when Gandhi advocates Munna to turn to non-violence rather than hurting his enemy.
The second example is when another caller asks Munna for help to stop his fellow neighbour from spitting on his entrance wall. Munna suggests him to adopt the Non-Violent way and instead of beating or spewing bad words, he should clean up the spit every day with a smile on his face. This will reduce the hatred in the enemy’s heart and make him realize his mistake. And so, it happens!
3. Importance of values and respect for elders – At the start of the film, we see how children abandon their parents in their old age. This is a very heart-wrenching scene. Later Munna is seen remarking and rebuking the son of one of the old men. He scolds him saying that the parent who raised him with everything he got, is being abandoned today by his son when he needs him the most. This is a strong criticism towards people who, in their selfishness forgets the values and morals that one needs to follow in life.
4. Satyagraha and peaceful methods of protests – The very core theme of Lage Raho Munna Bhai movie explores the aspects of corruption and bribery. Gandhi Ji advocated the concept of Sarvodaya for everyone’s progress however, we know that the present world does not focus on equity but greed.
Corruption in the system is growing at a stark rate. By adopting the Gandhigiri way to fight against this, the peaceful methods of protests preached by Mahatma Gandhi are ignited again in this movie. First, Munna adopts the peaceful method of Satyagraha to fight against Lucky Singh’s corruption. In another instance, again through one of the callers, we are reminded about how to fight bribery and corruption in the system i.e. by making the other person feel ashamed in the most non-violent way.
5. Superstitious beliefs in India Lage Raho Munna Bhai smoothly tackles the superstitious problems that are still common in India. We see the plot of the movie revolve around Lucky Singh’s daughter being ‘Manglik’ and how Lucky Singh lies about it, which in the end is revealed to the in-laws by Lucky Singh’s daughter. It shows how most of the superstitions that Indians have is nothing but a way for the so-called ‘pandits’ and ‘Jyotish’ to extract money from people. Mahatma Gandhi never showed support for superstitious beliefs and always asked people to walk with reason, empathy, truth, and non-violence. Thus, this also remains an important point in Gandhian Philosophy.
The film succeeds in lining up with the expectations of people. Lage Raho Munna Bhai proves to be a great movie to convey the message of Gandhigiri to the audience in a serious yet humoristic way without being didactic. It not only shows Gandhi’s principles of thought but also shows a way to employ them in the present situations in India. The film is a great medium for anyone who wants to explore Gandhi Ji’s ideals without needing to have any prior knowledge about it.