At the core, this dramatization of circumstances surrounding the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi is an achievement of insight and impact. The success of a drama focusing its attention on the assassinator of a great man is to make the character of the killer dimensional and clearly motivated. This is achieved in the screenplay from Stanley Wolpert’s novel and bolstered by Horst Buchholz’s virile portrayal of the perpetrator.
Action of the drama takes place in the nine-hour span culminating with the fatal measure, with several flashback passages to illustrate the incidents of the past that contributed to the unstable frame of mind of the young man.
The story falls down in its development and clarification of certain key secondary characters. A married woman (Valerie Gearon) for whom the killer-to-be has fallen does not make very much sense. And her abrupt metamorphosis from sophisticated lady of the world to devout woman of India in the final scene is both superfluous and dramatically awkward.
Several other important characters, too, are poorly defined, among them the assassin’s unwilling accomplice (Don Borisenko), a baffling Indian politico (Robert Morley) and an impulsive prostitute (Diane Baker).
Buchholz delivers a performance of intensity and conviction. Jose Ferrer is excellent as a desperately concerned and conscientious police superintendent guarding Gandhi against disheartening odds. An astonishingly accurate personification of the latter is etched by J. S. Casshyap.