Much ado over Indian Summer?

October 23, 2009

Universal Studios has shelved plans to shoot “Indian Summer”, a film based on the lives of Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten.(UPDATE: On Friday, a studio spokesman was quoted as saying “Indian Summer” is continuing to be developed but will not go into production until the script, budget and cast are all in place)Filmmaker Joe Wright, who was slated to direct the project, was quoted as saying there were creative differences between the studio and the Indian government.Many people are not comfortable with national leaders being portrayed on celluloid in any way other than flattering.Most leaders are interpreted by their followers in a particular manner. Any alternative recounting especially on celluloid runs into controversy.Biopics of leaders are few and far between in Bollywood in spite of it being a vibrantly political and prolific film industry.Some say the Indian masses tend to deify their leaders and hence are less receptive to anything critical.And celluloid is a mass medium more than any book on history ever can be.In Pakistan, the movie “Jinnah” starring Christopher Lee and sanctioned by the Pakistan government had also run into controversy.But does public policy also contribute to this state of affairs?The Indian Express says in a report that ministries don’t transfer records to National Archives “which leaves modern, democratic India’s history shrouded in secrecy”.Does this contribute to a lack of public discussion on various facets of our leaders’ lives and policies and therefore an intolerance of alternative readings?As for the movie “Indian Summer”, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was to appoint a liaison officer to ensure the movie did not deviate from the approved script.Is imposing a government-sanctioned memory of events on people any different from Mayawati’s efforts to erect statues to herself?

6 comments

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Somehow in Indian politics, the private lives of individual really do not seem to matter to the general public. Perhaps it is better this way. Look at what is happening in Italy or the Clinton affair(s), did they really effect the shape of politics or the foreign relations of their respective countries? At most they had a political fall out for the individuals concerned.That being said, the present controversy over the film is simply bungling at its worst. By being in denial over Nehru’s personal life, is not going to alter facts. Even Mountbattens daughter has said she thinks there was a romance between the two…so what? Personally I feel happy for Nehru and the lady if they found some sort of companionship and emotional peace in their lives. Some of our better known historians have even gone so far as to say that it does not matter and need not be discussed because it didn’t effect history. Though even that is debatable the fact is that this movie does not lay claim to be a work of history even though it obviously uses history to create a story. Like the law in this land is applicable depending on who you are, the same now can be said about freedom of expression and art.As to the comparison with what Mayawati is doing, it is completely odious. Nehru and Edwina are long dead and gone and created or became part of history because of their deeds and the way others saw their actions. Mayawati herself is saying she is history, in her own life time, because of how she sees herself. Even if no one else agrees with her assessment she has the power, momentarily, to erect her own statues in her own memory and is shamelessly going forward feeding her own ego. While Nehru is remembered for his deeds, leadership and contribution to India, Mayawati will be remembered, if at all, for her deed of self agrandisement.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

What only this, if someone wrote a true book highlighting the positives and negatives of MK Gandhi, ML Nehru and the book floats around freely in regional languages in country, the whole myth that is Congress will come crashing down. One needs to learn that Nehru and Gandhi were hard core politicians who had nothing to do with nationalism which is evident by their criticism of Shaheed Udham Singh

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

@Most leaders are interpreted by their followers in a particular manner. Any alternative recounting especially on celluloid runs into controversy.”–People spend a lot of energy creating a perfect image of the person they love/respect; so any alternate version becomes unacceptable to them. This is also true for thousand year old religious scriptures and incarnations–different versions have been written but mostly we know them as the versions run by TV or in Amar Chitar katha, and that’s what we pass down the generation, and the reality is lost.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

I don’t know about other Indians, but this is totally a non-issue for me. It was their personal life and I should have no concern with that. I admire the personality that Nehru was all the things he did for India. I can live with a slightly new version of Nehru, give or take a few Edwinas.

Posted by Rahul Singh | Report as abusive

Dara is funny… I somehow find Mayawati a lot better and honest person than GANERU clan. Maybe he needs to study history beyond what he was taught be doctored NCERT books.Gandhi’s called his works as EXPIREMENTS with truth. A very funny scientific statement.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

@Gandhi’s called his works as EXPIREMENTS with truth. A very funny scientific statement.- Posted by Rohit– Did Dara say GANERU or Gandhi–I did not see? You always find a way to drag irrelevent stuff without telling why you are annoyed with anti-Mayawati comments. A specific rebuttal rather than an advise to read history would have been much useful.How do you know that Dara is not an ex-serviceman who has read history half- or one full generation ago and is speaking from personal experience in military and civil life unlike you.

Posted by rohit | Report as abusive