GANDHI opens with the showing of the Mahatma's assassination and funeral. An old and haggard man, Gandhi walks with two women acting as his walking stick into a loud crowd. A man called Nathuram Godse bows down to him, draws his pistol and shoots Gandhi three times in the chest. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, then nearly eighty years old, dies with God's name on his lips. The movie then shows Gandhi's memorial service, which has a humongous mob behind it. It shows the popularity of Gandhi at the time in India.
The rest of the GANDHI is a flashback of the major events in Gandhi's long life. We see Gandhi's first confrontation with racism in a train in South Africa in the year 1893. A racially prejudiced white person objects to a 'coloured man' traveling in first-class. Then a suit-wearing, prim and proper lawyer, fresh from his legal studies in England, Gandhi protests against this so he is thrown out in an ugly scene in the next station.
Mohandas Gandhi is shocked beyond words so he appeals to his Indian compatriots, but all they can say is just sympathise with him. They however organise a small meeting between unenthusiastic Indians. Gandhi, being unused to public speaking, resorts to direct action by burning his identity card. The policemen beat him up but he shows his grit by burning more and more of his crowds'. The incident makes the headlines and miraculously, Gandhi becomes the leader of South Africa's Indian community.
General Smuts, the figurehead of South Africa, introduces new and harsh laws for the Indian troublemakers: saying that Indian marriages are illegal and that policemen have rights to come in and inspect all Indian dwellings without a license. Gandhi coordinates a bigger meeting of Indians, open to all regardless of religion,