Bose: Dead/Alive

Bose: Dead/Alive (2017)

Bose: Dead/Alive is an Indian historical period drama web series, based on the life of Subhas Chandra Bose. The show stars Rajkummar Rao, portraying the character of Bose and Naveen Kasturia in a supporting role.

Release Date:November 20, 2017
Genres:Mystery, History, Drama
Director:Pulkit, Pulkit
Plot Keywords:biopic
  • Bose,the hero not Bose,the man
    November 25, 2017

    Wud he have been the PM had he been alive is not a question that has a straightforward an answer.Had Netaji been alive,he wud have had to contend with not Nehru,but Patel for the post.Jawaharlal wud have been a fine choice for the external affairs minister for either of them.But that is not the point of this web series.

    This series is based on Anuj Dhar's book which explores various conspiracy theories related to Netaji's disappearance in 1945.Even without the mystery surrounding his death and disappearance,Netaji's life exudes a certain kind of romance that perhaps only Bhagat Singh's can match.His escape from house arrest in early 40s is stuff of legends.He managed to overcome Gandhi and Nehru's opposition to win the elections for Congress Presidency in 1938 and 1939.His antics in college as a student leader,organizing 2000 khaki clad supporters on the streets of Calcutta in 1928,getting elected as Mayor of Calcutta ,attempt to sell Khadi to Price of Wales ,selection and resignation from ICS, his meeting with Hitler,his slogans and radio broadcasts,organization of INA ,the campaign in Andaman-Burma and NE,and his tribute to Gandhi addressing him as Father Of The Nation,are all glorious episodes of Indian history.

    And this is exactly my problem with the we series.They have far too little screen time.A 21 minute episode has a minute and half of opening credits and then three and half minutes of some loud,screeching bangla rock song playing at closing credits.These feel quite anachronistic .The background score of the series is over the top and belongs in a Guy ritchie film.The total runtime of 144-150 minutes ,distributed over nine episodes is quite less to accommodate everything.Sure ,u have made a casting coup in that u have the best (most versatile) actor of the generation ,Rajkumar Rao playing Subhash.What joy is there in watching this actor at the height of his prowess.His mannerisms are perfect,his eyes convey so much.His body language is confidence personified,and RR is always in charge .Given the format /script of the show,the director has chosen to only show flashes of various incidents/events and historical moments.Its imperative then that he portrays Bose only as a hero,and not as a human.The net result is that Rajkumar doesn't get the opportunity to showcase Bose's vulnerabilities and possible insecurities.This is our Netaji as we see in posters adorned on walls,the commander-in-chief of Azad Hind Fauz,the hope of a nation. Naveen Kasturia has done some good work over the years for TVF and in Suleimani Keeda.He plays a fictional character of an Indian cop in the film,who has had close association with Netaji over the years.Although his voice-over of the series is not quite good,but he has given an honest performance as Darbara singh.Rest all characters,be it the English policemen,INA associates,Gandhi,Nehru,Bose's family members and Emily Shaenkel,have all been rendered caricatures .

    A jarring note for me was how the dialogues between historical figures have been written.Jawahar might have addressed Bose as Subash,Bose or Mr Bose,but somehow I dunt buy the idea that Subhash (eight years younger) wud have addressed the former as Nehru (neither privately,nor in public).This is not how we address each other in India,not not,and certainly not then.Nehru and MKG have been spared the tags of villain,despite obvious temptations.

    The series does suggest that Netaji might not have died in Formosa in 1945.He possibly didn't even board that flight.There were rumours regarding a lot of gold,and treachery by some of its associates.Maybe he was spotted in Manchuria,and went to Russia from there.The circumstances related to his death and the shabby investigation post-death don't quite add up.The truth will never be known.That is the worst part .Why could/do we not have some counterfactual history .Philip Roth wrote The Plot Against America in which he imagined a scenario in which Charles Lindberg ( a record breaking pilot and a Nazi sympathizer)becomes the US president in 1940,and a wave of anti-semitism grips America.What wud have happened had Bose,who collaborated with Nazis and the Axis powers ,survived the war .Would he have been tried at the famous Tokyo Trials ? Or with Dhillo,sehgal and shahnawaz at the Red Fort Trials ? Bose was a socialist(maybe even a communist) at heart.Would we have seen a USSR-like polit bureau system ? Would he just have collaborated with Nehru and ousted Patel and the conservative section from the Congress ?

    I highly recommend this Web series.Hansal Mehta (producer) and RK Rao has given us Shahid,Aligarh and City Lights,and now I look forward to their next offering Omerta.If u cant afford to read the book,at least watch this.The script cud have been written better,run time could easily have been longer,characters cud have been rounder and music could have been less shrill.As for watching something that presents Bose,the man ,maybe we can wait a bit longer.I ,for one,am very interested in the Patel-Nehru-Gandhi-Bose interpersonal relationships.But not much has been written on it,certainly not as a complete work in itself.