May 30, 2002 
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Bhagat Singh
'There was a woman in Bhagat Singh's life'
Directors of the patriotic sagas rush to their film's defense

Vickey Lalwani

Come June 7 and the lighthearted romance from Yashraj Films, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai could steal a march on the much-hyped Guddu Dhanoa's 23 March 1931 -- Shaheed and Rajkumar Santoshi's The Legend Of Bhagat Singh.

The filmmakers of the patriotic sagas now find themselves in a soup as Delhi-based NGO Article51 A Forum, questions the authenticity of the films and accuses them of distorting history. A special objection being raised is the introduction of the female character portrayed as Bhagat Singh's lover (played by Aishwarya Rai in 23 March 1931 -- Shaheed and Amrita Rao in The Legend Of Bhagat Singh).

The forum plans to hold demonstrations outside theatres where these films are to be screened to arouse the pubic sentiments against such misrepresentation of facts.

Surprisingly, Guddu Dhanoa who directs Vijeta Films' 23 March 1931 -- Shaheed that stars Bobby Deol feigns ignorance about the objections.

Ajay Devgan plays Bhagat Singh in Rajkumar Santoshi's The Legend of Bhagat Singh "There was a woman in Bhagat Singh's life. We have done extensive research on this subject and we cannot be wrong," he goes on to explain.

Co-producer of The Legend Of Bhagat Singh Kumar Taurani says, "I have not added Amrita Rao for ornamental value. If I wanted ornamental value, I would have opted for a bigger heroine. Nobody knows Amrita Rao, she is a new entrant."

A booklet issued by Tips says: "It would have been a dream come true if she was to marry Bhagat Singh. This girl from Manawale village loved Bhagat Singh so totally that she remained unmarried till death and was known as Bhagat Singh's widow."

Dhanoa adds, "It is stupid to create such a ruckus. What we have projected on screen is documented evidence. If we were distorting history, would we have got a Censor Certificate without any hitches? During the Censor trials, many historians were present and after the show, they all congratulated us. How can we be accused of cashing in on Bhagat Singh's name and making a spicy film?

"Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has expressed a desire to see my film on June 2, and we are working at a hectic pace to arrange for a special screening on June 2 in Delhi," he states.

Rajkumar Santoshi who directs The Legend Of Bhagat Singh is holding his cards close to his chest. He has said that Kultar Singh, Bhagat Singh's younger brother, stayed with them in Pune for seven days during the making of the film and offered valuable insights into Bhagat Singh's life, which he has duly weaved into his film.

Ajay Devgan essays the title role in The Legend of Bhagat Singh Ajay Devgan (who essays the title character in The Legend Of Bhagat Singh) earlier said, "I read a lot on Bhagat Singh, but the credit goes to Rajkumar Santoshi for handing it to me on a silver platter."

Bobby Deol, in an interview said that he didn't read much because he was a 'bad reader'. He added he interacted with his team, and that's how he set himself up for the role.

Neither Dhanoa nor Santoshi has revealed the names of the books and encyclopaedias they referred to during the making of their project. Dhanoa says, "As a team, we have decided not to let out the books' names, simply because the publisher might not like it."

'Bhagat Singh is not a brand name'
Which Bhagat Singh do we choose?


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