Bollywood's Dear Friend Hitler: New Champion for Most Ill-Advised Movie Idea?
Somewhere, Uwe Boll is either crying or breathing a sigh of relief. Either way, it looks like Bollywood might be making a Hitler film even more misguided than his dreaded, apparently Oscar-worthy Holocaust film Auschwitz. Amrapali Media Vision held a conference this week in Berlin to hype their first feature film project, a film with an all-Hindi cast about the relationship between Mohandas Gandhi and Adolph Hitler titled Dear Friend Hitler. With songs.
Despite exhaustive research, I cannot find the names Max Bialystock or Leo Bloom attached to this anywhere, so I guess this project is earnest. Apparently the company is hoping to have the film ready to screen by Cannes. Granted that a "piece of fictionalized history" about Hitler with an all-Hindi cast and song-and-dance numbers is enough to raise some eyebrows, but, there are bigger red flags in past interviews about the film, which don't really read as politely as the report from Berlin.
There, director Rakesh Ranjan Kumar played up the film's historical context; that it is based on a few letters that Gandhi actually wrote to Hitler asking him to end the war. Kumar apparently asked executives to "'suspend their disbelief' describing the contrast between Hitler's eye for an eye philosophy and Gandhi's never-say-die approach."
OK, I'll play ball for now; Maybe it's entirely possible to create a thoughtful examination of these philosophies with song-and-dance numbers. In another well-mannered press release, actor, writer and co-producer Nalin Singh keeps most of his focus on Gandhi, saying: "I would like to convey to the world that we can achieve victory through non-violence."
Hey, I can get behind that message too! But Singh, what about that older article posted on the company's website, back from when the film had the even more attention-grabbing title Hail Hitler? (It was also called My Friend Hitler at one point)? That's the one where you say that it's going to attempt to show Hitler's "humane side," and how he "helped bring freedom to India." Ah, but your quotes defending him in that one are nothing compared to the ones in the other article with the "Hitler Rocks" headline.
Anyway, I doubt this movie is going to come to America and suddenly make a lot of people rethink their opinion of Hitler, but it could do a bit more damage in India, where newspapers can actually run headlines like "Hitler Rocks" without mass boycotts. And indeed, this Guardian article that ran when the film was first announced asserts that, "In India, awareness of the Holocaust is limited," before going on to debunk the film's myth that Hitler loved India.
To be fair, Bollywood Superstar Anupam Kher dropped out of the film following masses of angry letters that he received after getting cast as Hitler, so it's not getting a total free pass in its native country either. But still, this is happening. And it sounds like it probably shouldn't.
Indian Hitler film gets Berlin launch [Film Business Asia]