Celebrate Netaji’s life instead of worrying about his disappearance: Benegal

Kolkata, Feb 5 (IANS) Hailing Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s contribution towards the independence movement, noted filmmaker Shyam Benegal on Friday laid stress on celebrating the leader’s life instead of worrying on conjectures about his disappearance.

Participating in a panel discussion on Netaji’s mysterious disappearance at the Kolkata Literature Festival here, Benegal also rubbished claims by certain quarters of Bose having lived incognito as the “Gumnami Baba” in Uttar Pradesh’s Faizabad.

“We should celebrate the life of Subhas Chandra Bose rather than constantly worry about what happened to him after August 18, 1945.

“Unfortunately, all the achievements of Netaji have been completely submerged under this unnecessary mystery about his death, disappearance, whether he died in the crash or not whether he escaped to Siberia and all,” said the Dadasaheb Phalke awardee.

Calling as “mere conjectures” the various theories surrounding Netaji’s disappearance following the alleged air-crash of August 18, 1945, Benegal also disapproved suggestions of Jawaharlal Nehru being behind Bose’s disappearance.

“I am also against this automatic assumption of Nehru being the villain in the whole story. If he was really so, why did he defend the three INA officers during the Red Fort trials,” said Benegal referring to the joint court-martial of Col. Prem Sahgal, Col. Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, and Maj. Gen. Shah Nawaz Khan of the Indian National Army (INA).

Benegal, who directed the award winning movie “Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero”, rued that people are more concerned about mystery about his disappearance rather than “celebrating the man’s contributions, his achievements and how he and his INA gave the final push to oust the British”.

“There are conjectures to suggest he probably went beyond the crash theory and ended up being a holy man somewhere. He was certainly not that kind of person, he was a leader of men… why he would remain anonymous in some ashram,” he said.

“Whether he died in the crash or not if there was a crash, even I have left them in my film as a question mark. Let us celebrate his achievements rather than concentrating on the conjectures,” he said.

Asserting he was not concerned with the circumstances of Netaji’s disappearance, Benegal said: “He flew away and never came back, it is as simple as that, so far as I am concerned.

“He was a man of destiny and there was a certain logic to his life, and the way it ended as far as our own experience of him is concerned, to me is a certain kind of resolution, I don’t need a further resolution.”

On the central government declassifying 100 files on Netaji, Benegal said: “So far the documents have revealed nothing, hopefully the next set of documents set to be declassified probably reveal something.”

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