When India failed to forestall a British documentary belittling Netaji

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Kolkata, March 29 (IANS) Despite efforts by then prime minister Indira Gandhi, the Indian government couldn’t forestall the screening of a 1984 British documentary that projected Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as a “traitor”, reveals a declassified file.

According to the PMO file, the then West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu had written to Indira Gandhi urging her take up the matter with the British government for stalling the screening of “The War of the Springing Tiger” by Granada Television.

“It is reported by those who have seen the preview of the film in London, that Netaji has been labelled in it as clown in jackboots and he has been projected as a traitor to the country,” Basu said in his letter dated January 21, 1984.

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Basu also revealed that “a section of Indians including (Netaji’s nephew) Sisir Bose had extended their help in producing the film”.

“I would request you to take up the matter with the UK government immediately and urge upon them to take suitable action to prevent the screening in any part of the world as was done in the case of the film ‘Death of a Princess’,” wrote Basu.

In her reply, Indira Gandhi informed Basu that despite efforts, the screening of the documentary couldn’t be forestalled.

“We did all we could to forestall the showing of this film on the British TV but could succeed. In view of the feelings within the country, this matter is being taken up with the British government.

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“But even if the government is willing, I am told that the BBC does not always oblige,” Indira Gandhi said in her February 15 reply.

Produced by Granada Television, “The War of the Springing Tiger” documented the “40,000 men who deserted the Indian Army” to fight alongside the Japanese against the British during World War II for an independent India, led by Subhas Chandra Bose.

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