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Film inspired by Mamata Banerjee hailing her as 'tigress' set for May 3 release; opposition asks EC to intervene

The Trinamool Congress said that the party had nothing to do with the film.

, TNN|
Updated: Apr 18, 2019, 01.45 PM IST
The film's makers insist that it is "not a biopic" but a film on "women empowerment" inspired by the struggles of Banerjee (L) that traces her journey from a seven-year-old girl to a tempestuous Trinamool leader. (Image: Facebook/Baghini-Bengal Tigress)
KOLKATA: Rubber chappals? Check. White handloom sari? Check. Decibel levels? Check. Raised finger? Check. Mamata Banerjee? "No, it's Indira Bandyopadhyay," say the makers of a Bengali film titled 'Baghini' (tigress) that dramatizes the life of Bengal's chief minister Mamata Banerjee. The film is slated for release on May 3 when the state will still be in the throes of an intense poll battle.

The film's director and producer insist that it is "not a biopic" but a film on "women empowerment" inspired by the struggles of Banerjee and traces her journey from a seven-year-old girl to a tempestuous Trinamool leader who brought the curtains down on a 34-year-old Leftist rule and became the first woman to hold the office of chief minister in the state.

Her cinematic run, however, is not going to be an easy one. Leaders of the opposition parties have already gone knocking on the Election Commission's door. Members of the CPM politburo, steered by party general secretary Sitaram Yechury, met the chief election commissioner in Delhi on Monday where they sought a ban on the trailer of the film on grounds of "propaganda". A second letter followed on Wednesday where state vice-president of the BJP, Joy Prakash Majumdar requested the Election Commission to "review the biopic on similar lines" as it was done in the case of the biopic on the Indian Prime Minister titled 'PM Narendra Modi'.

The Trinamool Congress, however, said the party had nothing to do with the film. "We do not see any connection at all," said the party's national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP, Derek O'Brien.

Despite the controversy that the trailer has generated since it was launched five days ago, producer Pinky Paul Mondal and director Nehal Dutta who call themselves "die-hard fans of Mamata Bandopadhyay" dispelled notions about the content being volatile or politically motivated. "We've never met Mamata Banerjee and there is no involvement of the party in the making of this film. Our research is based on news clips and her biographies. To us she is not just Bengal's pride but a national icon. We wanted to convey a social message," explained Mondal. The film begins in the mid-60s when Banerjee as a little girl is compelled to stage her very first protest when a car hits her friend and ends with her historic walk to Writers' after taking oath.

The timing of the "alleged biopic" is a "coincidence," adds Mondal. "The film made in 2016 was cleared by the censors with a 'U' certificate only a week ago so we did not want to delay the release."

For Ruma Chakraborty, who as the protagonist Indira Bandyopadhyay in 'Baghini', walks, talks and drapes the sari around her shoulders like the real one does, this isn't her first performance as Mamata Banerjee. The theatre actor is a seasoned Didi impersonator in jatra productions since the Trinamul chief came to power.

Although the film reflects the rise and fall of two political powers in Bengal and features former chief ministers of Bengal and CPM leaders Jyoti Basu and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, "it is not aimed at highlighting or attacking any particular political party," insists Dutta, the film's director.

The film's makers are yet to hear from the Election Commission. "We haven't received any official communication from EC yet because I don't think our film breaches the model code of conduct. There's no political mandate nor is it titled after a political leader unlike the biopic on Narendra Modi," said Mondal.

More Politics, Please! Modi Biopic, 'Thackeray' & Other Films That Courted Controversy

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Election Mode

16 Apr, 2019
It's poll season in India. The 2019 multi-phased Lok Sabha elections have kicked off across the country. And it seems that political fervour has found flavour on screen as well. Biopics and films on political intrigue have created quite a buzz on social media, and away from it as well. This year, so far, has witnessed the announcement and release of three such movies on top political figures of the country across decades. While some of these have been deemed offensive, others have been touted as political propaganda. Hailed by fans, slammed by critics and trolls, these films nevertheless have been talked about. Here's a look at films with political hues that have courted controversy:

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