Kolkata: Filmmaker Srijit Mukherji’s next outing ‘Gumnaami’, based on theories surrounding Netaji’s disappearance, has stirred up a hornet’s nest, with the Bose 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 the 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 said further 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.”
Justice (retd) Manoj Mukherjee was not “conclusive” in his findings. Based on the lack of categorical forensic substantiation, Mukherjee had stopped probing the Gumnami angle further.
Filmmaker Mukherji, on his part, said the Mukherjee Commission had mentioned Gumnami Baba in its 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,” the filmmaker said. “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,” he said.
The national award-winning filmmaker said further, “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 18 August 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 18 August as the freedom fighter’s death anniversary came in the eye of the 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. 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.
Netaji kin living in denial, says Mission Netaji founding member
In the meantime, Sreejith Panickar of Mission Netaji has challenged the denial by members of the third generation of Subhas Chandra Bose’s extended family. Panickar says that these family members had taken a position in 2013, according to which the air crash theory was bogus, but now they were once again inching close to that theory.
Explaining their clash with the Bose family, co-author of Conundrum Chandrachur Ghose said to Sirf News that the Gumnami story is inconvenient for the Netaji kin, as they would be questioned why Netaji did not look for them once he returned to India.
Another member of Mission Netaji said under the condition of anonymity that Subhas Chandra Bose when around, did not regard his extended family highly. “There was only one elder brother he trusted. The rest, Netaji said, were too close to the Congress to care for him,” The Mission Netaji activist said.