'Is that Netaji or...?' Twitter debates as President Kovind unveils new portrait of Subhas Chandra Bose

The unveiling of a portrait has become cause for fresh controversy online with netizens firmly convinced that the rendition is faulty. At present Twitter users are trending a 2019 movie called "Gumnaami", as well as "Rashtrapati Bhavan" and "President of India". As the Twitter outrage continued, 'Bhagat Singh' and 'Sardar Patel' also found themselves added to the list of trending topics. And it all harks back to one painting!

In case you're confused, President Kovind on Monday unveiled a portrait of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the Rashtrapati Bhavan to commemorate his 125th birth anniversary celebrations. The President's official handle had also tweeted pictures of the unveiling of the portrait.

The controversy began when several Twitter users claimed that this was not Netaji. Rather, as many opined, it was a rendition of actor Prosenjit Chatterjee essaying the role of Bose in a Bengali mystery film called Gumnaami. He played both the freedom fighter as well as the Ayodhya-based sadhu who many believed was Bose living under an assumed name after his purported death.

Now, we're not confident that the portrait unveiled by the President is an exact rendition of Bose's countenance. However, it does appear to be a rendition of the freedom fighter as opposed to a portrait of sorts of Prosenjit Chatterjee. At the same time, we feel compelled to note that the confusion may have been amplified somewhat by the actor's rather convincing portrayal of the iconic Bengali freedom fighter.

A still from the film's trailer.
A still from the film's trailer.

But what started with a few Twitter comments below the President's post was soon a full-blown controversy. In a now deleted post, TMC MP Mahua Moitra hit out at the government alleging that that after donating Rs. 5 lakh to the Ayodhya Ram temple, President Kovind had "honours Netaji by unveiling a portrait of Prasenjit, the actor who played him in biopic".

Perhaps a cold comfort, but Moitra was not alone. Another deleted post, this time by journalist Barkha Dutt had spoken about her shock over the “utterly embarrassing” situation. Calling it a portrait of Prosenjit, she added rather confusingly that she had to "look twice to make sure it had actually happened".

Others however took a different approach - that if this was not Prosenjit Chatterjee, it was also certainly not Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. And going by the number of un-deleted posts, would seem that many of the critics are choosing to maintain their stance.

Interestingly, even Bengal's own people seem convinced that the portrait is not of Netaji. The West Bengal Congress party for example took to Twitter with a sage remark about how "education matters". And when most of Twitter seemed to be in agreement, they promptly deleted the post.

'Is that Netaji or...?' Twitter debates as President Kovind unveils new portrait of Subhas Chandra Bose

There is of course a large section of people who don't care much about the debate - as long as it is worthy of memes. Some wanted portraits of the actors who played Bhagat Singh, Rani Laxmibai, Samrat Ashoka and Sardar Patel to be unveiled in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and others decided to make it happen.

And so, Twitter is presently also filled with "#ParodyPortraits" that feature president Kovind unveiling pictures of various other people. We're not sure if they're all humorous, but it would seem that Twitterati are amused easily.

See for yourself:

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