Sir Ben Kingsley (Krishna Bhanji)

Sir Ben Kingsley, CBE, (born December 31, 1943) is a British actor. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film Gandhi, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor.


1 Biography
1.1 Early life
1.2 Film and television career
1.3 Honours
1.4 Personal life
2 Filmography

Early life
Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England, the son of Ann Lyna Mary (née Goodman), an actress and model, and Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, a medical doctor.[1] Kingsley’s father, an Ismaili Muslim,[2] was born in Kenya of Indian Khoja Gujarati descent, as Kingsley’s paternal grandfather was a spice trader who had moved from India to Zanzibar, where Kingsley’s father lived until moving to England at the age of fourteen.[3][4][5] Kingsley’s mother, born out-of-wedlock, was “loath to speak of her background”; she was of partial Russian Jewish descent, though Kingsley has said that he is “not absolutely certain” about his maternal ancestry.[6][7] Kingsley grew up in Pendlebury, Salford, where he studied at University of Salford. He then moved to Lancashire, where he studied at Pendleton College, which later became home to the Ben Kingsley Theatre.

Kingsley began his acting career on the stage at Manchester Grammar School, alongside Robert Powell, but made a transition to film roles early on. Despite this focus on film, he continued to act on the stage, playing Mosca in Peter Hall’s 1977 production of Ben Jonson’s Volpone for the Royal National Theatre. It was at this time in his life that he changed his name from Krishna Bhanji to Ben Kingsley, fearing that a foreign name would hamper his career.[8]

Film and television career
Kingsley’s first film role was a supporting turn in Fear Is the Key, released in 1972. Kingsley continued starring in bit roles in both film and television, including a bit part on the soap opera Coronation Street and regular appearances as a defence counsel in the long-running British legal programme Crown Court. He found fame only years later, starring as Mohandas Gandhi in the Academy Award-winning film Gandhi in 1982, his best-known role to date. Kingsley was critically acclaimed; the majority of film critics were agreed in their scepticism that no other actor could have acted out the role with any conviction. [citation needed] The audiences were agreed with the critics, and Gandhi was an unqualified box-office success. The AMPAS was agreed with the critics and the audiences, and Kingsley won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal.

Kingsley deftly avoided typecasting and, in his on-screen appearances, acted in a variety of roles. His credits included the films Turtle Diary, Maurice, Pascali’s Island, Without a Clue (as Dr. Watson alongside Michael Caine’s Sherlock Holmes, Suspect Zero, Bugsy–which led to an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Sneakers, Dave, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Schindler’s List, Silas Marner, Death and the Maiden, Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story, Sexy Beast, for which he received another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and House of Sand and Fog, which led to yet another Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He won a Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2001.

In 1997, he provided voice talent for the video game Ceremony of Innocence. In July 2006, he received an Emmy nomination for his performance in the made-for-TV film Mrs. Harris, in which he impersonated famed cardiologist Herman Tarnower, who was murdered by his jilted lover, Jean Harris. In 2007, Kingsley appeared as a Polish American mobster in the Mafia comedy You Kill Me, and was also slated to act out a Middle East oil minister to be assassinated in War, Inc.. An Indian Express story reported that Kingsley would appear as the sex guru Osho in a film, of then-unknown title, due to be released in 2008.[9] In August 2007, it was rumoured that he will play the role of Davros, creator of the Daleks in the 2008 season of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who.[10] The BBC has yet to confirm or deny this.

Kingsley was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000. He was knighted in the 2001 New Years Honours list. On promotional material for the 2006 film Lucky Number Slevin, Kingsley was referred to as “Sir Ben Kingsley.” At first, the actor was singled out for some criticism, as such titles had generally come to be omitted from professional credits by that time. It was claimed that the inclusion of “Sir” was a mistake by a studio executive.

Personal life
Kingsley had four children as of the summer of 2007: Thomas Bhanji and Jasmine Bhanji by actress Angela Morant, and Edmund Kingsley and Ferdinand Kingsley by theatrical director Alison Sutcliffe, both of whom became actors themselves. In 2005 he divorced German-born Alexandra Christmann, after pictures of her kissing another lover surfaced on the internet.[11]
He currently lives in Spelsbury, England, where he has lived for over ten years.[12]

Year Title Role Notes
1982 Gandhi Mohandas Gandhi Academy Award Win for Best Actor
1983 Betrayal Robert the film version of Harold Pinter’s play
1985 Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe Silas Marner
Harem Selim
1986 Turtle Diary William Snow screenplay by Harold Pinter
1987 The Secret of the Sahara (TV) Sholomon
Maurice Lasker-Jones
1988 Pascali’s Island Basil Pascali
Without a Clue Dr. John Watson
Testimony – The Story of Shostakovich Dmitri Shostakovich
1989 Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story Simon Wiesenthal
1990 The 5th Monkey Cunda
1991 Bugsy Meyer Lansky Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor
1992 Sneakers Cosmo
1993 Searching for Bobby Fischer Bruce Pandolfini
Dave Vice President Nance
Schindler’s List Itzhak Stern
1994 Death and the Maiden Dr. Roberto Miranda
1995 Species Xavier Fitch
Joseph Potiphar
1996 Twelfth Night Feste from the play by William Shakespeare
1997 Weapons Of Mass Distraction (TV) Julian Messenger
The Assignment Amos
1999 Alice in Wonderland (TV) Major Caterpillar
The Confession Harry Fertig
2000 What Planet Are YOU From? Graydon
Rules of Engagement Ambassador Mourain
Islam: Empire of Faith Narrator voice only
2001 Anne Frank: The Whole Story Otto Frank
Sexy Beast Don Logan Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor
AI: Artificial Intelligence Specialist voice
2002 The Triumph of Love Hermocrates Marivaux’s play
Tuck Everlasting Man in the Yellow Suit
2003 House of Sand and Fog Behrani Academy Award nomination for Best Actor
2004 Thunderbirds “The Hood” loosely based on the super-marionation programme created by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson
Suspect Zero Benjamin O’Ryan
2005 A Sound of Thunder Charles Hatton
Oliver Twist Fagin
Mrs. Harris Herman Tarnower
BloodRayne Kagan
2006 The Sopranos Appearance as himself Installment 72 – “Luxury Lounge”
Lucky Number Slevin The Rabbi
2007 You Kill Me Frank Falenczyk
The Last Legion Ambrosinus
War, Inc. Oil Minister in post-production as of the summer of 2007

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

One thought

  1. Hello there Sir Ben, I am intrigued because your Mothers maiden name Goodman is the same as mine was! I am English though with a bit of Irish and a great great grandad who was Prussian, however, they were on my Mothers side, so I have traced the Goodman line but cannot find anything but English people.
    Your father was my doctor as I lived in the Swinton area and my friend remembers bouncing you on her knee! The house where your father practiced is now a care home called “Heath Cottage” It is near to the house that the artist Lowry lived in. I recall hearing that the lady who bought Lowry’s house burnt all the “Horrible”pictures she found in the room! I bet she regretted that!
    I saw you recently on the One Show, you came over very well. I loved your part as the Mahatma, excellent. I am very interested in India and the partitioning and awful things that went on.
    I am 81 years old and just thought I would drop you a line, first time on twitter, not very conversant with this new technowlegy! Bye Sir Ben and all the best.Kathleen Goodman Richards. My family had shoe shops in Station Road and Partington Lane, I do not expect you remember?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.