About Harilal Mohandas Gandhi
He was the first son of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to survive childhood.
Harilal wanted to go to England for higher studies, including becoming a barrister as his father had been. His father firmly opposed this. The elder Gandhi believed that receiving a Western style education would not be helpful in the struggle against British rule over India. Eventually rebelling against his father's decision, in 1911 Harilal renounced all family ties and embarked upon a tragic, lifelong path of self-destruction.
He became an alcoholic, and an embezzler; accounts of his arrests, public drunkenness, and debauchery became commonplace. He converted to Islam but later reverted back to Hinduism. This decision did not bother his father, who believed that all religions were one. His mother felt he should not be publicly displaying this back-and-forth type of behavior.
"I was a slave of my passions when Harilal was conceived," said his father.
Harilal was married to Gulab Gandhi. They had five children, two of whom died at an early age. Nilam Parikh, the daughter of Ramibehn, who was the eldest of Harilal's children has written a biography on him Gandhiji's Lost Jewel: Harilal Gandhi
Harilal spent the latter part of his life as an alcoholic and destitute. He appeared at his father's funeral in such derelict condition that few recognized him. He died from liver disease on 18 June 1948 in a municipal hospital in Mumbai.
Gandhi, My Father:
The troubled relationship between Harilal and his father is the subject of the film and play Gandhi, My Father. The film adaptation was released on 3 August 2007 and directed by Feroz Abbas Khan and produced by Anil Kapoor. It centers on their stormy relationship. Harilal is portrayed by Akshaye Khanna. Khan's play, Mahatma vs. Gandhi, while different from this film, had a similar theme. There is also a Marathi play named Gandhi virudh Gandhi, in which Atul Kulkarni features.
Various sources report the birth date as 1888 or 1886. 1888 appears to be more accurate.