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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

Party formed by Netaji to move court against makers of Gumnaami; alleges saffron camp influence

The Bloc has also called for a mass boycott of Gumnaami, released on October 2, and alleged that the movie shows Bose as Gumnaami Baba under the influence of the Sangh Parivar. Gumnaami Baba was a monk with no social identity, who lived in Uttar Pradesh and was believed by some to be Bose in disguise

india Updated: Oct 05, 2019 15:10 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
An archival image of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Film exploring his last days is being opposed by the party he formed.
An archival image of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Film exploring his last days is being opposed by the party he formed.(HT Archival Photo)
         

The All India Forward Bloc, the party formed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in 1939 after he quit the Congress, will move the court against movie director Srijit Mukherji, charging him with distorting history and the image of the freedom fighter in his movie Gumnaami.

The Bloc has also called for a mass boycott of Gumnaami, released on October 2, and alleged that the movie shows Bose as Gumnaami Baba under the influence of the Sangh Parivar. Gumnaami Baba was a monk with no social identity, who lived in Uttar Pradesh and was believed by some to be Bose in disguise. He died in Faizabad in 1985. A judicial inquiry report on the identity of Gumnaami Baba is supposed to be tabled in the Uttar Pradesh legislature.

“People should boycott the movie because it shows several things that are far from the truth. Since it is being mostly screened in multiplexes which are located in shopping malls we don’t want to disturb people during Durga Puja. Protests will be organised after the festival. We will move court against Mukherji,” said G Devarajan, national secretary of the Bloc.

“We were invited to the premiere on October 2 and we raised a protest in the hall. Some members of the Bose family joined us. There was a commotion,” said Devarajan.

The Bloc leader alleged that Mukherji, whose movies have won several national awards, distorted facts by showing Bose (played by popular actor Prasenjit Chatterjee) asked officers in the Indian National Army to “surrender” after Japan’s defeat in WWII. “Netaji never asked his soldiers to surrender. He asked them to retreat,” said Devarajan.

“The director has added certain elements in the scenes on Gumnaami Baba. This has been done under the influence of the Sangh Parivar that does not have an iconic figure from the freedom movement. The movie is an effort to hire an icon,” said Devarajan.

The Bharatiya Janata Party unit in Bengal did not react to the accusation. “I have nothing to say on the movie,” said Rahul Sinha, BJP national secretary and the party’s former state president.

Mukherji refuted the allegations and stood his ground. “The Bloc is well within its rights to boycott my movie. Some people will watch it, some may not. It is absolutely fine with me.” he asked.

“A Forward Bloc leader earlier filed public interest litigation at the Calcutta High Court against Gumnaami’s release but the court dismissed it. The Bloc may move the Supreme Court. However, while hearing a similar petition filed in connection with another movie, the apex court recently asked the petitioners to move the appellate tribunal of the sensor board,” said Mukherji.

“The allegations are baseless. My movie is based on several books and hearings of the Mukherjee Commission. A theory cannot be called distortion of facts,” said Mukherji. He said Gumnaami does not draw any conclusion but refers to three theories on Netaji’s disappearance - his death in a plane crash in 1945, his death in Russia and his appearance in the disguise of a monk in Faizabad in the 1970s.

“Nothing has been distorted. If you do not agree with something, you cannot call it distortion,” said Mukherji.

Interestingly, in 2005, when the Bloc was a part of the erstwhile Left Front government, it staged agitation in Kolkata and stopped the premier of Bose: The Forgotten Hero, a movie by Shyam Benegal. The Bloc objected to the film’s suggestion that Bose secretly married Emilie Schenkl, an Austrian, in 1937.

“The Bloc has a history of not agreeing to any alternative interpretation of history,” said Mukherji.

“A movie on Netaji should not be made in such a way that viewers are compelled to think of the influence of a certain group, especially in times like this,” said Sarthak Roychowdhury, a Kolkata-based economics professor.

Last month, 32 members of the Bose family said in a statement that Mukherji’s movie was based on the book ‘Conundrum’ by Chandrachur Ghosh and Anuj Dhar. Denying the charge, Mukherji said in a Facebook post that the screenplay was based on the Mukherjee Commission report and not Conundrum.

Members of the Bose family, however, continue to oppose the movie saying it is an insult to the great leader. The Mukherjee Commission was set up in 1999 and in its report submitted in 2005 said there was no clinching evidence to prove that Bose died in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945.

Two other commissions, the Shahnawaz Committee of 1956 and Khosla Commission of 1970, could not come up with any concrete evidence on Bose’s whereabouts.