Bollywood movie Raag Desh, which has a strong Northeast connect, will be released this Friday. Interacting with the media in Guwahati on Monday, Kenny Basumatary, who plays the role of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, informed that the film was premiered at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday.

Directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, Raag Desh is about the 1945 court-martial of three Indian National Army officers who were captured during their failed attempt to throw the British out of India.

Kenny Basumatary, who was present along with the lead cast and crew at the premiere at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, said that the outgoing president Pranab Mukherjee, vice president Hamid Ansari and Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien were among the attendees of the special screening.

Also present were family members of Prem Sehgal, Shah Nawaz Khan and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, the INA officers portrayed in the film. In the film, they are being played by Mohit Marwah, Kunal Kapoor and Amit Sadh.

Historian and politician Sugata Bose, who authored the book ‘His Majesty’s Opponent’ on Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s struggle against the British empire, was also present during the screening. His Majesty’s Opponent was the first book that Kenny had read to prepare for his role as Netaji in Raag Desh.

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“It was a humbling, amazing experience,” Kenny said. “I have a new respect for our institutions and our Constitution, and the numerous people who fought for our freedom. Subhasini Ali, daughter of Prem and Lakshmi Sehgal, was very happy with the film. She complimented me on my work, saying that she was initially apprehensive about how her parents and Netaji would be portrayed,” he added.

Kenny Basumatary with the President during the premiere of RAAG DESH at Rashtrapati Bhavan – The News Mill

Actor Vijay Varma, who was recently seen as the villainous Ankit Malhotra in Pink, also joined Kenny in Guwahati for the promotion of Raag Desh. Talking to journalists in Guwahati, Vijay Varma said, “The British govt had imposed censorship for several years on the press in India. They thought they would make a big show of the court martial of the captured INA officers. Unfortunately, this move backfired. The Indian public finally got to know about the INA’s efforts and sacrifices to free the country. My character, Jamal Kidwai, is representative of the press of that time.”

Winner of a National Award for Paan Singh Tomar, Tigmanshu Dhulia, popularly known as the main villain Ramadhir Singh in Gangs of Wasseypur films, expressed satisfaction that he took up the project.

“I am a student of history, and I never thought I would one day get a chance to make a film on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army. This was an opportunity I could not have missed,” said Tigmanshu Dhulia, in a video message.

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Speaking during an interview with Satyen Bordoloi on the relevance of the film to the Northeast, Tigmanshu Dhulia had said, “The entire effort of the INA – Netaji’s plan – revolved around entering India through Manipur and attacking the British army.” Kenny added, “One of my aunts is from Mao in Manipur. She told me that Netaji, his troops and Japanese troops were stationed for a while in her mother’s village there. She remembered Netaji as a handsome gentleman who was very good with children.”

Kuhipaat, a communications & technology company is the distributor of Raag Desh in the Northeast except Tripura. Kuhipaat has earlier co-produced, promoted and distributed both the Local Kung Fu films.

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