Family decries Netaji's portrayal in 'Gumnaami'

Family decries Netaji's portrayal in 'Gumnaami'

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Filmmaker Srijit Mukherji's next outing 'Gumnaami', based on theories surrounding Netaji's disappearance, has landed in trouble, with the freedom fighter's family claiming that "a defamatory campaign was being made to malign the image of the legendary leader".

In a counter-argument, the director, however, said that 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 did not portray Gumnaami baba, a monk spotted in Faizabad in the 1970s, as Netaji, he said.

A statement signed by 33 members of the Bose family, contended that "a long-running and sinister campaign is being organised which features a penniless recluse known as Gumnami baba, who left behind trunkloads of Netaji-related fake collectables".

It also said that "a misleading and defamatory campaign was being made to malign the image and legacy of the legendary leader".

Among the signatories were Netaji's daughter Anita Pfaff, niece Chitra Ghosh, grandnephew and BJP leader Chandra Bose, nephew Dwarkanath Bose and niece Krishna Bose.

Noting that Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry of 2005 provided conclusive proof through DNA testing to establish there was no match between Netaji and this Gumnami baba, the letter demanded "an end to the campaign".

Krishna Bose, who is also the director of Netaji Research Bureau, said, "Everyone has the right to make a film for a commercial reason but none has the right to insult the great patriot."

Mukherji, on his part, said the Mukherjee Commission had also mentioned Gumnami Baba in their report.

"Even if you discount a theory, you have to give references, you have to mention it. We have no intention to insult Netaji, we have shown our respect to him in the film.

"It is a democracy, a filmmaker has every right to show all possible theories and talk about the mysteries surrounding the great icon, we are all proud of," the national award-winning filmmaker said.

"We have made the film from three standpoints and left it for the audience to decide. The film, once released, will prove that," he said, adding the "Censor Board has given a nod to the film, which goes on to show the Union government has okayed the film's content".

Different theories have swirled around Netaji's disappearance in 1945, with one being that he returned to India and lived under the guise of 'Gumnami Baba', a reclusive Sadhu, in Uttar Pradesh's Faizabad.

Some others have claimed that Bose boarded a plane on August 18, 1945 at Taihoku airport in Taiwan which crashed leading to his death.

The third theory suggests that Netaji was captured and murdered in a prison in Russia.

A recent tweet by PIB observing August 18 as the freedom fighter's death anniversary came in the eye of storm, with Chandra Bose asserting that it was not the "right approach" as the mystery over the leader's death was yet to be resolved.

Pfaff, Netaji's daughter, has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention for a DNA test of the ashes, believed to be of the leader, kept at Renkoji temple in Japan.