The movie Gandhi starts off with the assassination of Gandhi on January 30, 1948. He was killed because of the split of Hindus and Muslims into Pakistan and India, instead of trying to keep the country united (which was impossible at the time). The story then jumps back to Gandhi early in his life, when he is a practicing attorney. He is traveling in South Africa on a train and is thrown off because he refuses to give up his first class seat. The conductor wants him to move because he is Indian. This upsets him and he organizes a burning of the discriminatory codes. The protestors are arrested and released.
Gandhi is motivated by religious means; he believes that everyone is equal in Gods eyes. He gets involved in several movements for equality, and he stresses non-violence very strongly. The Indians are very mad because British rule continues to limit their rights. They are supposed to all get fingerprinted, and their marriage laws are invalid. Gandhis followers vow to fight their oppressors to the death, but he discourages them from violence.
He and his wife form a sort of commune of purity. They live off of the land entirely. During one scene, they ask all of Gandhis followers to burn all of their clothes that were made in Britain and wear only what they can make themselves. Gandhi practices this for the rest of his life, usually wearing just a loincloth.
In another scene, Gandhi is in jail, and some of his followers are peacefully gathered in a square. The police lock up the square and kill almost everyone, over 1,500 people. Gandhi is disgusted and discouraged. He continues to preach non-violence, but the Indians do have occasional conflict with the police. Gandhis counter to the popular phrase an eye for an eye says that after that, everyone will be blind. Gandhi leads several organized protests against British rule. In one, all Indians stopped doing their work, and the major cities in the country were disabled. Another time, he led a 165-mile walk to the sea to protest the British monopoly on salt. The Indians made their own salt out of the sea.
A turning point on the Indian fight for independence was the western press. Reporters witnessed a scene in which Indians tried to get into a factory row by row, and were brutally beaten by soldiers, row by row, as the women pulled the dead and injured away. Also, a reporter for Time magazine met Gandhi when he was in jail, took a lot of pictures of him, and made his plight known to the world.
Finally, Gandhi travels to Europe to negotiate Indias freedom. While there, they cover some ground, but the actual release comes several years later, on August 15, 1947. After they are free, there is a civil war between the Hindus and the Muslims. They are forced to move around so they are in separate parts, India and Pakistan, and total chaos breaks out. Gandhi goes on another one of his fasts and refuses to eat until he is convinced all fighting has stopped. This is very difficult, but is accomplished. Soon afterwards, however, is his asassination.