I thought Ram Rajya (1943) was the first and only movie that Gandhi had ever seen. So I was quite surprised when I found out that it was not the only movie that he had watched. Moreover, it appears that it was not even his first one!
According to this website he watched Ram Rajya in 1945:
‘Ram Rajya’ was shown to Mahatma Gandhi in 1945, when he was convalescing at Juhu. His secretary, Smt. Sushila Nayar, had given Vijay Bhatt only 40 minutes for “Bapu” to see the film. But the movie so engrossed him, that Mahatma Gandhi saw it for over 90 minutes, uninterrupted. Since it was a ‘moun’ [silence] day for him, he gave Bhatt a pat on the back at the end, to show his appreciation.
Ram Rajya, by the way, was a very successful film which ran for 100 weeks in a theatre in Bombay. The director and producer of the movie, Vijay Bhatt, went on to make another classic in 1952: Baiju Bawra.
In Gandhi: The Man, His People and the Empire Rajmohan Gandhi writes about the other movie that Gandhi had seen [Chapter 14: Rejected, Page 497]:
Twenty years earlier, released from Yerawada jail after an attack of appendicitis, Gandhi – a son of Porbandar – had gone to convalesce by the sea at Juhu in North Bombay. In May 1944 he turned once more to the Juhu beach, where he was again entertained by the Morarji family. On 21 May he was persuaded to watch Mission to Moscow, a Hollywood movie made to popularize America’s alliance with the Soviet Union, possibly the first talkie he had ever seen. It did not attract him to Stalin or Communism. [Emphasis is mine.]
So there. Michael Curtiz’s Mission to Moscow (1943) was the first movie that the Mahatma had watched. And that makes Ram Rajya the first Indian movie to have been seen by Gandhi.
[Hat Tip: At the Edge]