August 30, 2019 10:54:18 am
Ahead of its release, director Srijit Mukherji’s upcoming Bengali film Gumnaami, which explores different theories surrounding Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s disappearance, has landed in trouble with the family members of the freedom fighter describing it as an insult to Netaji.
In his defence, Mukherji said all promotional material of the film mentioned that it is based on the Mukherjee Commission report that probed the plane crash and the incidents thereafter.
As many as 33 members of the Bose family, including Netaji’s daughter Anita Pfaff, niece Chitra Ghosh, nephew Dwarkanath Bose, grand nephew Chandra Bose and niece-in-law Krishna Bose, issued a statement on Wednesday saying that the “effort suggesting that Gumnami Baba was Netaji was malignent to his image”.
Historian and grand nephew of Netaji, Sugato Bose, during a debate show in a Bengali news channel Wednesday, wondered why such a movie was being made. “Why is a film being made on a cock and bull story? I feel sad that I even have to mention the name of Subhas Chandra Bose and some Gumnami Baba in the same sentence. It is an insult to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, a travesty of history and a mockery of arts. I understand the director is trying to say there are three so-called theories. That is completely false. There is one history, backed with a lot of evidence and eyewitness accounts that Netaji laid down his life fighting for his country’s freedom on August 18, 1945,” said Sugata.
It is commonly believed that Netaji died in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945.
The statement by the Bose family alleged that a private organisation, Mission Netaji, led by writer Anuj Dhar and Chandrachur Ghose, was carrying out a sinister campaign saying Netaji was Gumnami Baba.
“A book, titled Conundrum, and the film, Gumnaami, are both a part of the effort to malign Netaji. A DNA test conducted in 2005 conclusively proved that Gumnami Baba was not Netaji,” said Chandra Kumar Bose, another grandnephew of Netaji.
The family members also objected to the fact that Bengali superstar Prasenjit Chatterjee is playing Netaji.
Defending his project, Mukherji said the film, cleared by the CBFC on Wednesday, sought to project all three theories surrounding the “disappearance” of Netaji in a balanced manner. “The film does not portray Gumnaami baba, a monk spotted in Faizabad in the 1970s, as Netaji. We have made the film from three standpoints and left it for the audience to decide. The Censor Board nod to the film goes on to show the Union government has okayed the film’s content,” he said.
Incidentally, the Mukherjee Commission, which was set up in 1999 and submitted its report to the government in 2005, mentioned that there was no strong evidence to prove that Bose died in a plane crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945. A third theory suggests that Netaji was captured and murdered in a prison in Russia.
On Thursday, both Dhar and Ghose issued a statement, refuting the allegations made by the Bose family.
“Before responding to their allegations point-wise, we would like to state that the members of the Bose family have not only been aware for more than a decade of our research and campaign to resolve the unending mystery surrounding Netaji’s disappearance, but also extended their support and expressed their gratitude publicly. While doing so, they were fully aware of our views on the Gumnami Baba issue. Therefore, their sudden volte-face is a matter of surprise for us and raises questions about the motive,” their statement said.
The statement added, “We refute each and every allegation made by the ‘majority members’ of the Bose family, which we find uninformed and malicious. At the same time, it saddens us to see the steep decline in the collective intelligence of a family that once used to be an illustrious one. It is high time that the family adapts to living without the benefits of the reflected glory of their illustrious ancestor and face historical facts.”
—with PTI inputs
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