Director Shyam Benegal's film, Bose -- The Forgotten Hero, starring Sachin Khedekar as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, is raising a storm in the patriot's homeland, West Bengal.
Deponents to the M K Mukherjee Commission which is inquiring into Netaji's disappearance are up in arms against Benegal, saying the movie showing the legendary leader's romance and marriage with German Emily Shenkl is 'historically distorted'.
"We have written to the Censor Board and secretaries of the union home and information & broadcasting ministries to stop the release of the film, since the question of his marriage to Shenkl is disputable," says deponent and Netaji researcher Jayanta Chowdhury.
The group, Netaji Bhabna Mancha, had earlier objected to the screening of the movie in its present form. They had seen a premiere of the movie on German television in late 2003, and had begun a movement against it ever since.
The Mancha has also protested the rendition of the Indian National Army song, Hum Dilli Dilli jayenge, in the film. "While Kadam kadam badaye ja has been picked up absolutely in the INA format," claims Chowdhury, "Hum Dilli has been distorted from its original version.
"We are not saying Netaji would become any less a freedom fighter if he had a love affair or had married," he says. "It is absolutely human to have a relationship. But when a commission is inquiring into these debatable points, does it become a great filmmaker like Benegal to record issues that might turn out to be wrong later, for posterity?"
The Mancha had sent a legal notice to Benegal, says Chowdhury, but have not yet received a reply.
Another deponent and legal expert Rudrajyoti Bhattacharya said they would jointly move court if the film was released in its present form.
Meanwhile, a Sahara Manoranjan spokesperson (Sahara is the producer of the film), said they had rescheduled the film's premiere to May 11; Bose was originally supposed to premiere on May 5. The Eastern Command grounds in Kolkata, the spokesperson disclosed, are not available on the date scheduled for the show.
The official said Sahara will no longer attempt to get into the Guinness Book as announced at a press conference last month. Sahara had attempted to assemble a record 30,000-plus people for the premiere show.
Bose's family members and select leaders of the Forward Bloc have seen the movie in sneak previews. While his relatives, including his nephew's wife and former MP, Krishna Bose, approves of the film, political party leaders were said to have had 'mixed reactions'.
"But we will let people decide if they accept it or not," Forward Bloc MP Debabrata Biswas said.