NCP leader Amol Kolhe plays Godse in short film, puts party in a fix

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The trailer of a 45-minute low budget film that landed on social media recently has put the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in a spot. In the film, NCP leader and popular television actor Amol Kolhe plays the role of Mahatma Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse, and in the 2.20-minute promo available on social media, he is seen making a statement in court justifying his decision to assassinate Gandhi on the evening of January 30, 1948.

As per the makers of ‘Why I Killed Gandhi’, the film is a “picturisation of the legal statement” made by Godse during the Gandhi murder trial, and aims to give a “radically alternative perspective to look at the history of 20th century India”.

Kolhe, who represents Shirur constituency as an NCP MP and is a crowd-puller for the party, has played the role of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his son Sambhaji Maharaj in popular television serials. He became a household name with ‘Swarajyarakshak Sambhaji’, which aired on a private television channel between 2017 and 2020. A skilled orator, he started his political career with Shiv Sena in March 2014 following an informal association with Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he ditched Sena and joined NCP. The party made him a candidate from Shirur Lok Sabha constituency against three-time Sena MP Shivaji Adhalrao Patil. To everyone’s surprise, Kolhe defeated Patil by over 50,000 votes despite NCP’s poor performance in the election otherwise. Later that year, the party quite successfully used Kolhe as a star campaigner in the Assembly polls.

On Thursday, Kolhe issued a clarification through a social media post and said that although the film is being released now, it was hot in 2017. He also urged people to differentiate between ‘reel life’ and ‘real life’.

“… Sometimes, one suddenly comes across roles where you do not agree with the ideology but they are challenge you as an artist. Nathuram Godse’s role was one such. On a personal level, I am not a votary of Gandhi’s assassination or glorification of Nathuram, but I have tried to do justice with the role that came to me. As an artist, one must respect the freedom of expression and as a person, the freedom of thought! I hope that people look at this work with an open mind,” Kolhe posted on his Facebook account on Thursday afternoon.

Jitendra Awhad: ‘He should have avoided the role’ 

Kolhe’s colleague in the party and a close aide of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Jitendra Awhad has criticised Kolhe’s decision to play the role.

“He may have done that role as an artist, but I feel that no one from Maharashtra should play the role of Nathuram. When an actor plays a role, he has to fully immerse in the role. When you see Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, then you see the actor living the life of Gandhi. One has to internalise the character and thought of the person. So, to speak in clear terms, I feel that as an actor, keeping aside his political link, he should have refused the role,” said Awhad.

MVA colleague Aslam Shaikh of the Congress, on the other hand, backed Kolhe. “He is an artist and he will do roles that come to him. He doesn’t become a God when he plays one. It’s wrong to connect politics with art,” said Shaikh.

NCP’s youth leader Amol Mitkari said, “He hasn’t glorified Nathuram. He is an artist and he has just played a role. He has his freedom of expression. I am confident that Member of Parliament Amol Kolhe does have no ill-feeling towards Mahatma Gandhi.”

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