Neta-Ji Or Actor Who Played Him? Row Over Rashtrapati Bhawan Portrait

BJP sources rubbished the charge, asserting that the photo was provided by Netaji's family to famous Padma Shri award winning artist Paresh Maity, who painted the portrait

President Ram Nath Kovind unveiled the portrait on Saturday to mark Netaji's birth anniversary.

Highlights

  • On Jan 23, President unveiled portrait of Netaji at Rashtrapati Bhavan
  • Posts on social media claim the portrait is of actor Prosenjit Chatterjee
  • BJP sources assert that the photo was provided by Netaji's family
Kolkata:

A portrait of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose unveiled by the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan is that of an actor who played him in a biopic, claimed posts on social media that were discredited today by government sources.

President Ram Nath Kovind unveiled Netaji's portrait on Saturday to mark his birth anniversary, named "Parakram Diwas" by the Centre. A post on his timeline went viral with many users claiming the portrait was actually one of Prosenjit Chatterjee, who played Netaji in the 2019 biopic "Gumnami".

BJP sources rubbished the charge, asserting that the photo was provided by Netaji's family to famous Padma Shri award winning artist Paresh Maity, who painted the portrait. "The photo does not resemble Prosenjit at all. It is an unnecessary controversy," the sources said.

Chandra Kumar Bose, Netaji's grand-nephew and a member of the BJP, also posted what he said was the photo given for the portrait.

Among those who ridiculed the portrait was Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, who tweeted: "After donating Rs 5 lakhs to the Ram temple the President honours Netaji by unveiling a portrait of Prasenjit, the actor who played him in biopic God Save India (because this government certainly can't)." She has now deleted the tweet.

Several posts on Twitter that made a similar claim have now been removed.

BJP's social media chief Amit Malviya, in-charge of Bengal, posted a sharp rejoinder: " If the neo-Bengal experts are done making a fool of themselves, outraging over the portrait of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, unveiled by the President of India, let me remind them that all their misplaced activism won't be able to save Mamata Banerjee..."

In his role as Netaji, Bengali movie star Prosenjit Chatterjee bears a striking resemblance to the renowned freedom icon in the 2019 film and he reportedly used prosthetics for his transformation. The credit for today's debate, therefore, goes to his make-up artiste, it was pointed out.

The claim that his portrait is up as Netaji's at Rashtrapati Bhavan inspired several memes and jokes on Twitter, with people calling for the inauguration of a portrait of Ben Kingsley as Mahatma Gandhi and Vivek Oberoi as Narendra Modi.

Finally, the actor himself tweeted, effectively clamping a lid on the controversy.

This is the latest in the intense tussle over Bengal's icons in the bitter lead-up to elections in the state in April-May.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on Netaji's birth anniversary on Saturday, had refused to complete her speech after "Jai Sri Ram" slogans were raised by BJP supporters at a mega event at the iconic Victoria Memorial in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Even today, she accused the BJP, her main challenger, of trying to appropriate Bengal's legends and exploiting them to reel in voters.

Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has attacked the BJP over blunders like mistakenly naming Shantiniketan as Rabindranath Tagore's birthplace instead of Jorasanko in Kolkata and Union Home Minister Amit Shah's floral tributes to a statue that was not tribal leader Birsa Munda's.