The Treasure Trunk Comes to Calcutta

On November 7, 2020 contents of a trunk containing rare treasures had spilt out into the public domain. Private letters from nearly a century ago exchanged between Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, his elder brother Sarat Chandra Bose and Sarat’s son and Netaji’s nephew, Amiya Nath Bose were selected and read out in a Mumbai auditorium. The session, as expected, revealed intriguing and unknown details about the life and times of Subhas, who seven decades after his mysterious disappearance, remains unchallenged as amongst India’s most iconic leaders. On Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary, the letters would be read out in a Calcutta auditorium in the form of a “cine play”. The cine play, entitled, “The Bose Legacy”, was created by Mumbai thespians Playpen Performing Arts Trust which came up with the idea of staging a production in which these historical letters would be read out and of filming it.

A still from the production (left). The poster depicting its essence. Photos courtesy Playpen Performing Arts.

The play was inspired by a book written by Netaji’s grandniece Madhuri Bose (the daughter of Amiya Nath Bose and granddaughter of Sarat Chandra Bose) in 2016. Titled, “The Bose Brothers and Indian Independence: an Insider’s Account” and published by Sage India, it first gave the world a glimpse into these private exchanges between Subhas, Sarat and Amiya.

Speaking about the treasures which Madhuri inherited, she tells us, “My father (Amiya) carefully preserved the letters. The letters were stored in as many as ten trunks. The Bose family did not throw away a single scrap of paper,” she says, smiling. This vast existing written matter constituted a veritable treasure trove of documentation on one of the country’s most important historical periods. The cine play was directed by Playpen’s Nikhil Katara, who said, “The journey of working on The Bose Legacy has been an enriching one”. 

Madhuri Bose with her father Amiya Nath Bose in Mandalay. Photo courtesy Madhuri Bose.

It is the first time that it will be staged and screened in Calcutta. According to members of the Bose family, though there was some apprehension about the celebrations given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it was widely felt that Netaji’s 125th birth anniversary was too significant an occasion not to commemorate it in a special way. One of the key attractions of the programme is the delightful anecdotes that Madhuri shares with the audience. She says, “I read out a very important piece which Netaji wrote in Mandalay Jail. I draw particular attention to ‘The Ethical Code’ which Netaji developed while he was lodged there.”

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) is hosting the programme at its auditorium in Calcutta. The event can be watched online.

A still from the production. Photo courtesy Playpen Performing Arts.

Playpen points out:

Details About The Play: From prison cells and faraway lands, in good times and bad, young Amiya received letters from his illustrious father, Sarat Chandra Bose and his mercurial uncle Subhas Chandra Bose. Personal letters about family matters as well as letters that articulated their vision for a free and united nation. Many words were censored and lost, but much remained enshrined in their letters. They left behind a rich legacy for generations to come.

A still from the production. Photo courtesy Playpen Performing Arts.

The Cine-Play is inspired by the book “The Bose Brothers and Indian Independence: An Insider’s Account” by Madhuri Bose, SAGE India and has been shot with 4 K cameras at the Harkat Studios in Mumbai.

Cast & Crew Information: A Playpen Performing Arts Trust Presentation

Directed by Nikhil Katara

Written by Nikhil Katara & Himali Kothari

Cinematic Direction: Karan Sharma

Edited by Karan Sharma & Hari Sai Srikar

Cinematography: Hari Sai Srikar

Assistant Camera: Rugved Shende

Lighting/Gaffer: Rugved Shende

Production: Rushab Kamdar

Music: Keith Anthony Sequeira

Location sound: Varun Gupta & Ritesh Malane

Sound design: Keith Anthony Sequeira & Varun Gupta

Audio mix and master: Varun Gupta

Cast: Santanu Ghatak, Asmit Pathare, Asif Ali Beg, Michaela Talwar, Rushab Kamdar, Keith Sequeira

Executive Producer: Brinda Shankar

Research & Interviews: Ashish Joshi

Creative Consultant: Mahesh Dattani

Categories: Feature

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