Raag Desh is about Netaji’s fight for India’s freedom through Northeast

July 24, 2017; Guwahati: Bollywood movie Raag Desh, which has a strong Northeast connect, will be released this Friday. Interacting with the media at a press conference in Guwahati, Kenny Basumatary, who plays the role of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, said that the film is about the 1945 court-martial of three Indian National Army officers who were captured during their failed attempt to throw the British out of India.

The film is directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, who has earlier won a National Award for Paan Singh Tomar, and is also popularly known as main villain Ramadhir Singh in Gangs of Wasseypur. 

On Sunday, Raag Desh, became the very first film to have its premiere at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Kenny Basumatary was also present along with the lead cast and crew at the screening, which was graced by outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien. Also present were family members of Prem Sehgal, Shah Nawaz Khan and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, the INA officers portrayed in the film. In the film, they are being played by Mohit Marwah, Kunal Kapoor and Amit Sadh. Captain Lakshmi Swaminathan, one of the most inspiring women of modern India, is being played by Malayali actress Mrudula Murali. The British govt made a big blunder by choosing a Hindu, a Muslim and a Sikh to court-martial. This move united Indians in a new wave that hastened the end of British rule.

 Renowned historian and politician Sugata Bose, who authored the book ‘His Majesty's Opponent’ on Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s struggle against the British empire, was also present during the screening. His Majesty's Opponent was the first book that Kenny had read to prepare for his role as Netaji in Raag Desh.

  "It was a humbling, amazing experience," said Kenny, "I have a new respect for our institutions and our Constitution, and the numerous people who fought for our freedom. Subhasini Ali, daughter of Prem and Lakshmi Sehgal, was very happy with the film. She complimented me on my work, saying that she was initially apprehensive about how her parents and Netaji would be portrayed.” 

Along with the cast and crew, Kenny got the opportunity to shake the President's hand. "Vice-President Hamid Ansari and his family smiled and said hello to us as he walked by," said Kenny, "One could sense a vibe of just how well-educated and warm they were."

Actor VijayVarma, who was recently seen as the villainous Ankit Malhotra in Pink, alsojoined Kenny in Guwahati for the promotion of Raag Desh. He is also the hero toNawazuddin Siddiqui's villain in Monsoon Shootout, and will also be seen in alead role along with Vidyut Jammwal, Amit Sadh and Kenny Basumatary inTigmanshu Dhulia's Yaara, scheduled for an October release. 

Talking tojournalists in Guwahati, Vijay Varma said, "The British govt had imposedcensorship for several years on the press in India. They thought they wouldmake a big show of the court martial of the captured INA officers.Unfortunately, this move backfired. The Indian public finally got to know aboutthe INA's efforts and sacrifices to free the country. My character, JamalKidwai, is representative of the press of that time". 

Rajya SabhaTV CEO and the film's producer Gurdeep Singh Sappal has made an importantpoint: that the committee of Rajya Sabha TV comprising many eminent Govt andpublic personalities believes that cinema is a great medium of learning and theart has made democracy survive among a population where 80% were illiterates.Raag Desh is the first initiative among many that Rajya Sabha TV has taken tonarrate true stories of India’s independence struggle and how India has evolved. 

"I am astudent of history, and I never thought I would one day get a chance to make afilm on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army. This was anopportunity I could not have missed," said Tigmanshu Dhulia, in a videomessage. 

Speakingduring an interview with Satyen Bordoloi on the relevance of the film to theNorth-east, Tigmanshu Dhulia had said, "The entire effort of the INA -Netaji's plan - revolved around entering India through Manipur and attackingthe British army." Kenny added, "One of my aunts is from Mao inManipur. She told me that Netaji, his troops and Japanese troops were stationedfor a while in her mother's village there. She remembered Netaji as a handsomegentleman who was very good with children." 

Kuhipaat, a communications& technology company is the distributor of Raag Desh in the Northeastexcept Tripura. Kuhipaat has earlier co-produced, promoted and distributed boththe Local Kung Fu films, and is now working on innovative ways to promoteBollywood and local films regionally. Durlov Baruah, CEO of Kuhipaat says,“There is very less focus on the promotion of national and international filmsin the Northeast. Most of the time, these films are released without anyregional promotion strategy, depending only on the national promotions toattain success at the box office. Kuhipaat wants to create a new paradigm wherenot only the local media industry benefits, but we can also bring more peopleinto the cinema halls and bring back the ‘cinema going’ habit among the people,thus benefitting the filmmakers as well as the regional cinema halls.”


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