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Jyoti Basu Urged Indira Gandhi To Ban Documentary On Bose

Back in 1983, Chief Minister of West Bengal Jyoti Basu wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, asking her to ban War of the Springing Tiger, a documentary on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, expressing strong reservations about the film produced by Granada Television.

The letter dated, January 21, 1983 presents the unease in the State following the disclosure of the contents of the documentary, which, Mr Basu points out, denigrates Bose, calling him a clown in jackboots, and projected as a traitor to the country. Mr Basu tells Ms Gandhi, that there is a very strong feeling among the people of West Bengal against this film and the Government would like to record its protest against it.

Mr Basu is also critical of writer Nirad C. Chaudhuri when he writes, “It is unfortunate that a section of Indians including Dr Sisir Bose, who is now an MLA in West Bengal, had extended help in producing this film, maybe without knowing the real intention of the producers. They should have been forewarned about the anti-Indian bias of the producers, when they had requisitioned the service of Chaudhuri.”

Mr Basu, urges Ms Gandhi to take up the matter with the UK Government immediately and urge upon them to take suitable action to prevent the screening of the film in any part of the world including Britain, as was done in the case of the film, Death of a Princess. Death of a Princess was a critically acclaimed documentary on the princess of Saudi Arabia, beheaded for disobeying her parents and choosing to live with the man of her choice and explored gender roles and sexuality of Saudi society. Saudi Arabia had asked the British ambassador to leave its soil following the screening of the film.

Ms Gandhi's letter to Mr Basu, assures him that the Indian Government will take up matters with the British Government to see that the film is not shown again. She says in her response, even if the British Government is willing, the BBC does not always oblige. The inclusion of BBC, drew a response from Mark Tully the then chief of Bureau who wrote saying the public service broadcaster was not involved with the film.

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