Retrospective: Actor Sir Ben Kingsley – African Roots and Indian DNA

Gandhi’s birthday, celebrated on 2 October, invokes an interesting Indian-Africa link to explore Sir Ben Kingsley’s roots.

“Sir Ben Kingsley is an inspiration to aspiring actors: aside from being a class act, a thorough professional and skilled thespian with a collection of memorable and powerful performances, he’s also a shining example of how Hollywood stardom can be late coming.

“Kingsley was 38 when he appeared in “Gandhi” (1982), his breakthrough role and only his second feature film credit following several years of strictly television and stage work.”

Hollywood: 50 Greatest Actor Alive, citation listing Kingsley at number 41

British actor Sir Ben Kingsley (Image: WIKIPEDIA and KUL BHUSHAN)
British actor Sir Ben Kingsley (Image: WIKIPEDIA and KUL BHUSHAN)

NEW DELHI — African roots and Indian DNA connect Mahatma Gandhi and the actor who played his role in the epic film of his name, reports Swami Anand Kul Bhushan.


  • Sir Ben Kingsley’s father came to Britain from Kenya.
  • His name at birth was Krishna Pandit Bhanji.
  • Kingsley’s father, Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, was born in Kenya. A Gujarati Indian Ismaili Muslim, Rahimtulla was a qualified doctor.
  • Kingsley’s paternal grandfather was a spice trader who had moved from India to Zanzibar, where Kingsley’s father lived until moving to Britain at the age of 14.
  • Kingsley was born in Britain and his mother, Anna Lyna Mary was an actress and a fashion model who appeared in films in the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Kingsley began acting as a teenager.
  • He changed his name to ‘Ben Kingsley’ soon after gaining fame as a stage actor, fearing that a foreign name could hamper his acting career. He chose Ben as a tribute to his father, who had been called Ben in college.
  • He won the Oscar for the ‘best actor’ inRichard Attenborough’s “Gandhi” released in 1982.
  • He has won a Grammy, a BAFTA, two Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards.
  • He was knighted in 2002.
  • He is listed at number 41 in Hollywood’s list of 50 Greatest Actor Alive and that too at age 70.

In playing his breakthrough role of Gandhi, what perhaps helped him was his Indian and African roots.

Discover, Explore and Learn more at Coastweek | African roots and Indian DNA – Who is this actor Sir Ben Kingsley.

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