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Bollywood's bonanza on Bhagat Singh under cloud, Delhi NGO petition I & B Ministry against branding of India's freedom struggle hero

24-May-2002
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Bollywood's bonanza on Bhagat Singh under cloud, Delhi NGO petition I & B Ministry against branding of India's freedom struggle hero

Vinod Behl

A spate of much hyped Bollywood based on the life and times of India''s great revolutionary Bhagat Singh, like Raj Kumar Santoshi''s ''The Legend of Bhagat Singh'', Guddu Dhanoa''s ''23rd March 1931 Shaheed'' are under cloud because of their ''controversial'' promos being shown on various TV Channels.

A Delhi NGO ''Article 51 A Forum'' has taken strong exception to the distortion of historical facts and branding of Bhagat Singh in these films for commercial gains. The NGO has petitioned the I&B Ministry against tarnishing of Bhagat Singh''s image by the film makers in the name of cinematic liberty and undermining his great contribution to India''s freedom struggle.

The Forum has alleged that in complete contrast to great period films like Lagaan and ''Mahatama Gandhi'', the films on Bhagat Singh lack proper research and authentic script. It has pointed out glaring distortions in the promos. Says Narendra Bhalla, general secretary of Article 51A Forum, "Bollywood actresses Aishwarya Rai and Amrita Rao have no relevance in the films on Bhagat Singh. They have been shown as Bhagat Singh''s fiancées whereas it''s a historical fact that Bhagat Singh never fell in love. In fact he ran away from his home to evade his ''engagement'', though the film promo shows his engagement scene. These heroines have been added merely for glamour and commercial value".

Bhalla also points out other glaring distortions like Bhagat Singh shown working as compositor, Chandrasekhar Azad speaking chaste Punjabi and a fellow revolutionary firing at Chandrasekhar Azad''s feet in Allahabad''s Alfred Park.

"The authentic script and the essence of Bhagat Singh''s mission is missing from these films, which jeopardise the great values and supreme sacrifice done by the great revolutionary, charges Ravinder Kumar, president of the Forum.

The Forum has taken up the matter with the I&B Ministry, pleading that the censor certificate should be given to these films only after ensuring that they do not compromise with the historical facts of India''s freedom struggle. The ministry has also been asked to frame suitable guidelines to ensure that film makers, TV producers and theatre directors do not distort historical facts in their productions, particularly those based on India''s freedom struggle.

The Forum has also chalked out a plan of action to stop film makers from tarnishing the image of Bhagat Singh and other freedom fighters. It will organise seminar involving historians and authorities on Bhagat Singh and even hold demonstration. As a last resort, the Forum will file a PIL to check the distorted depiction of India''s freedom struggle and its heroes.

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