Former defence minister George Fernandes’s wife Leila has objected to an upcoming biopic based on his life, Mumbai Mirror reported. In a June 26 letter to the biopic’s producer, Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut, Fernandes said that she was concerned about the misrepresentation of facts in the biopic. She also said Raut should have contacted the family before deciding to embark on the production.
According to the Mumbai Mirror report, Fernandes has written: “While the family appreciates your efforts to honour George Fernandes with a biopic, we are also concerned about the ‘facts’ in the picture as he was a much-misunderstood person in public, especially towards the last stage of his public life. George is no position to respond to your move. My son and I feel that you should have discussed the film with us before announcing it. Normal courtesy demands that such a move is discussed with the person’s family and formal permission is taken.”
The letter adds that the family reserves the right to ensure that the portrayal of Fernandes’s life aligns with what his family and close associates consider the truth. “We would have appreciated if you had discussed the film and the script with us,” the letter states. “George, being a public person, has a right to comment on how he is being portrayed. The family has equal or more right to ensure that any portrayal is in tune with what we and close associates believe is the right perspective about him and his work.”
The letter also suggests that Raut refrain from producing the biopic without written official permission.
Raut told Mumbai Mirror that he would speak with the family members, but added that he did not require their permission. “…details about George Saheb’s life are in the public domain and one doesn’t need anyone’s permission to make a movie on him,” Raut told the newspaper.
Raut is also the producer of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s biopic Thackeray, featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead.
A prominent member of the Janata Dal and founder of the Samata Party, Fernandes served as the defence minister between 1998 and 2004. During his tenure, India went to war with Pakistan in Kargil, and also conducted its nuclear tests at Pokhran. Fernandes has also been named in several controversies, such as the 2002 coffin scam and the Barak missile scandal in 2006.