Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri on Wednesday said a grandson of Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second prime minister of India, has sent him a legal notice seeking a stay on his film The Tashkent Files. The April 12 release alleges a conspiracy behind Shastri’s death in January 1966 and claims to uncover the truth.
“Last night we have been served a legal notice seeking to stop the release of the film by the prominent Congress member and also ex-Secretary of Congress who also happens to be Lal Bahadur Shastri’s grandson and a close aide of the top family,” Agnihotri said in a statement on Wednesday. “This is despite them seeing the film, appreciating it and expressing their gratitude to me in person in the 7th April in Delhi at PVR.”
Agnihotri told Republic that the notice had been sent by Vibhakar Shastri, a member of the Congress.
Agnihotri alleged that the top Congress leadership and the Gandhi family were behind the move. “I have come to know from the horse’s mouth that they have been coerced to do this by the top family,” the filmmaker said. “Shastri’s grandsons have been used as scapegoats as the orders are from the top family. I fail to understand why would the top Congress leaders do that? Why would Congress want to stop the movie, shut me up? Why are they scared of a movie that raises some questions on a citizen’s #RightToTruth?”
Agnihotri told IANS that he is yet to respond to the notice. The news agency said that Agnihotri shared a copy of the legal notice with them, which alleged that the film is trying to “create unwarranted and unnecessary controversy” and “will hurt the emotions and sentiments of a large section of the society”.
Shastri, who succeeded Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister in 1964, died in Tashkent in Uzbekistan on January 11, 1966. A heart attack was the official cause of death. The previous day, he had signed the Tashkent Declaration, a peace treaty between India and Pakistan following the 1965 War.
The film examines the various conspiracy theories about his death. The trailer raises possibilities of the involvement of a rival and indicates that Shastri had learnt that Indian National Army leader Subhas Chandra Bose had survived the airplane crash in 1945 and was, in fact, in Tashkent when the prime minister went there. The film claims to reveal the truth behind Shastri’s death through the efforts of a journalist.
The cast includes Naseeruddin Shah, Pallavi Joshi, Shweta Basu, Pankaj Tripathi, Mithun Chakraborty and Vinay Pathak.
Some members of Shastri’s family have also challenged the official version of events and have sought the de-classification of documents related to his death.