Bollywood film “Gunday” caused protests over its depiction of Bangladesh’s 1971 struggle for independence
People in Bangladesh are protesting against a new Bollywood action thriller that they say portrays their country’s 1971 struggle for independence from Pakistan wrongly.
“Gunday,” which released in India on Feb. 14, depicts the bloody creation of Bangladesh as a 13-day battle between India and Pakistan beginning on Dec. 3, 1971.
According to the protesters, the film does not address the previous eight months of war fought between East Pakistan — now Bangladesh — and West Pakistan, in which three million Bangladeshis died.
In recent days, protests have erupted on social media against the film, including a Facebook group calling for it to be banned and Twitter campaigns against it.
Bangladesh’s Minister of Culture Asaduzzaman Noor was quoted by local media as saying that his ministry would send an official statement in protest to its counterpart in India.
“I haven’t seen the movie yet but there has been a massive outrage on social media and among people,” Mr. Noor, was quoted as saying in the Poriborton newspaper based in Dhaka.
Yash Raj films, the production company behind “Gunday,” has apologized in a statement on its blog Wednesday for “any disrespect or hurt” the film has caused Bangladeshis.
“This was and is meant to be a fictional work and does not in any way project or disrespect any particular segment of society or persons or a nation,” the statement says.
The entertainment company, one of Bollywood’s largest, had not anticipated any opposition to the film, said Avtar Panesar, the vice president of international operations.
Munazir Hussain Syed, a journalist with the Dhaka Tribune, told The Wall Street Journal that people in Bangladesh were angered that Bangladeshis were represented in the film as terrorists and smugglers, and speaking Hindi.
“Pakistan has always portrayed that it lost to India, a country with a large, powerful military, instead of to the Mukti Bahini [the Bengali resistance forces]… the film makes people feel as if India is trying to take the war away from us,” said Mr. Syed, who hasn’t seen the film himself, but is participating in the Twitter campaign to draw attention to the film’s alleged historical inaccuracies.
Ali Abbas Zafar, the writer and director of “Gunday,” said that films about history or politics inevitably have multiple conflicting narratives. “Each country has its own version of events… [the Bangladeshis] see it from their point of view, but according to Indian history, the war began when Pakistan attacked India on December 3,” said Mr. Zafar.
“We are not trying to offend their sentiments, but the facts on the Indian side are different,” said Mr. Zafar. “People have responded well to the film, but only object to the first two minutes,” he added.
Abdullah Al Nadim, a 17-year-old student in Chittagong who is active in the Twitter protests against “Gunday,” said in an email to The Wall Street Journal that the film failed to give Bangladeshis credit for their part in the birth of Bangladesh.