16 June 2010
Plans by filmmakers in India to make a film on Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler that will claim that the despot loved India and that he indirectly contributed to its independence have outraged members of the Jewish community. "I am a proud Indian and assert my Indian identity everywhere I go in Israel. I tell fellow Israelis that in my birthplace there was no anti-Semitism. However, I am having to bow my head in shame at this recent ignorance shown by Bollywood, which is also very dear to us," Noah Massil, president of the Central Organization of Indian Jews in Israel (COIJI), was quoted in the media as saying.
"All I know is that Hitler never supported India's independence. I will write to President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in order to prevent bringing disrepute to our entertainment industry," said Massil. He was born in India but later migrated to Israel.
The film 'Dear Friend Hitler' is due to be released at the end of the year. Its director Rakesh Ranjan Kumar has claimed it will show “Hitler's love for India and how he indirectly contributed to Indian independence.”
Some Israelis also expressed dismay at the decision by veteran actor Anupam Kherto (above, on the right) to star in the role of Hitler in the film. The film is said to look at Hitler's personality, including his relationship with Eva Braun, to be played by Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia (pictured above left). It is said to closely resemble the 2004 German film 'The Downfall', which also enacted Hitler’s last days in his Berlin bunker in April 1945.
The film's title is a reference to the two letters written by Mahatma Gandhi to Hitler before World War II broke out in which he referred the Nazi dictator as "my dear friend", before pleading that he avoid starting a war.
Bollywood - India's film industry - has recently moved into more realistic, hard-hitting subjects such as terrorism, internet privacy and physical disability, but with limited success.
In 2006, a Nazi-themed restaurant called 'Hitler's Cross' opened in Mumbai, but was soon closed after protests by Jews in India and abroad.
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