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From Gandhi to Fifty Dead Men Walking

April 06, 2009 17:36 IST

These days, you can't talk about Western cinema set in India without mentioning Slumdog Millionaire, which just recently won an astonishing 8 Academy Awards, including best picture.

But before Slumdog mania, there was only one film generally held up as the pinnacle of 'Hollywood does India'.
That film, of course, is nothing less than a modern-day epic. That film, of course, is Gandhi.

And for anyone who's watched the film, Gandhi will forever remain inseparable from the man who played the Mahatma himself: Sir Ben Kingsley.

Born Krishna Bhanji, in England, to a father from Africa with Indian heritage and a British mother, only later in life would he take on the name Ben Kingsley, Anglicised for the stage.

Though he's most famous for his turn as Gandhi, Kingsley career -- both on the big-screen and on-stage -- has been nothing short of spectacular. Today, he is one of few men to have won all four major motion picture acting awards: Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild.

In 2001, to honour his accolade-laden career, Kingsley was knighted, and from that point forward has been known as Sir Ben Kingsley.

Now, we await his newest film, which releases this month in Britain.

Fifty Dead Men Walking, written and directed by Kari Skogland, is a loose adaptation of Martin McGartland's 1997 autobiography, also called Fifty Dead Men Walking. McGartland was a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), but became an informant for the British government in 1987. The film stars Jim Sturgess as the informant, McGartland, and the aforementioned Kingsley stars as Fergus, his British handler.

Fifty Dead Men Walking premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada, way back in September 2008. Its theatrical release, however, is set for April 10 in the UK.

In the run-up to the UK release, the usually-reserved Kingsley's been on a bit of a promotional tour, engaging in free-wheeling interviews with various publications.

In the picture: Ben Kingsley and actress Daniella Lavender pose on the red carpet at the 81st Academy Awards.

Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters