Sonia Gandhi writes to Attenborough's Wife
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Mourning the death of Oscar-winning British filmmaker Richard Attenborough, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to his wife, hailing him as a "true friend of India" and "great actor and director" with "inimitable brilliance".

In her letter to Lady Richard Attenborough, Gandhi said that she was grieved to learn of the passing away of Attenborough and she joins the thousands of Indians in mourning his loss.

Attenborough (90), who had struggled for 20 years to bring the life of Mahatma Gandhi on-screen in the 1982 film Gandhi, died yesterday.

Gandhi, starring Ben Kingsley as Mahatma, remains one of the biggest highlights of a distinguished and versatile career that spanned six decades, on both sides of the camera.

In her letter, Sonia Gandhi said, "During his long career as an actor, producer and director, he lit up the stage and screen with his inimitable brilliance. But his finest hour was as the Director of Gandhi, a film that took the story of modern India's greatest man to all over the world."

She said that the film Gandhi so unforgettably reflected different aspects of Lord Richard Attenborough's genius--his empathetic understanding of a momentous period in Indian history, his unerring instinct of casting actors, who were right for their roles and his mastery in conveying the epic scale of human drama and the heroism of India's struggle for freedom.

"He persevered long and hard to fulfill his dream of making a film on the life of Mahatma Gandhi--a dream that was shared by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, who encouraged and helped him at every stage.

"The fruits of the wholehearted labour of love not only won sir Richard Attenborough several Oscars but also a very special place in Indian hearts," the Congress chief said.

Gandhi said that much of Attenborough's success was due to his enormous personal charisma, through which he struck a special rapport not just with the colleagues on the stage and screen, from whom he coaxed their finest performances, but also with people from every walk of life.

"I have warm personal memories of my meetings with him--his warmth and charm, and the infectious enthusiasm with which he undertook every project. Today, I join thousands of Indians in mourning the loss of a true friend of India and a great actor and director. We will always honour Attenborough's memory," Gandhi said in the letter.

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