The ruling BJP’s move to further insist on the legitimacy of two fictional characters — Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda — through a feature film has come to a screeching halt.
The move by Karnataka Horticulture Minister Munirathna, who is also a prominent movie producer, to launch a movie about the two fictitious characters who have been propped up by BJP in an attempt to woo Vokkaliga voters, faced stiff opposition from a prominent Vokkaliga Matha (monastery) and its seer on Monday, 20 March.
According to the BJP narrative, the two fictional characters were Vokkaliga chieftains and killed the ruler of Mysore Tipu Sultan. History records that Diwan Purnaiah, the first Diwan of Mysuru, and Mir Sadiq, joined hands with the Marathas and Nizams, and helped the British capture and kill Tipu Sultan.
Ever since an arch featuring the names of Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda was put up near Mandya, during the formal inauguration of the Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there has been a fierce political slugfest between the three main parties in Karnataka — the BJP, Congress, and the JD(S).
Related: Historians dare BJP over Uri Gowda, Nanje Gowda
‘BJP trying to disturb peace’
The issue took a dramatic turn after former chief minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy took a dig at the ruling BJP party on his Twitter account.
He said the saffron party in the state is now targeting the Vokkaliga community (warriors and cultivators) for political gains by introducing fictional characters such as Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda.
ಕಲ್ಪಿತಕಥೆ, ಸುಳ್ಳುಗಳಿಂದಲೇ ಜನರ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ವಿಷಬೀಜ ಬಿತ್ತಿ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕವನ್ನು ಅಲ್ಲೋಲಕಲ್ಲೋಲ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಬಿಜೆಪಿ ವಕ್ರದೃಷ್ಟಿ ಸದ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಒಕ್ಕಲಿಗರ ಮೇಲೆ ಬಿದ್ದಿದೆ.ಸ್ವಾಭಿಮಾನಿ ಒಕ್ಕಲಿಗರನ್ನು ಹೇಗಾದರೂ ಹಳ್ಳ ಹಿಡಿಸಲೆಬೇಕೆಂಬ ಹಿಡೆನ್ ಅಜೆಂಡಾ @BJP4Karnataka ಗೆ ಇರುವುದಂತೂ ಸತ್ಯ.1/11#ಒಕ್ಕಲಿಗರ_ಮೇಲೆ_ಬಿಜೆಪಿ_ವಕ್ರದೃಷ್ಟಿ pic.twitter.com/dnJZgHRqub
— ಹೆಚ್.ಡಿ.ಕುಮಾರಸ್ವಾಮಿ | H.D.Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) March 17, 2023
His stinging reaction came after a few BJP leaders, including the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shobha Karandlaje and BJP National General Secretary CT Ravi, reiterated their claims that Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda were not fictional but real characters.
Also read: Karnataka government excludes Nehru, features Savarkar on I-Day ads
Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda shelved: Munirathna
The Vokkaliga community approached the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) against allowing such a film, that had been named Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda.
The Opposition parties threatened to launch protests if any attempts were made to bring out a film on fictional characters with connections to the Vokkaliga community.
Following this, Minister Munirathna held a meeting with Adichunchanagiri seer Dr Niramalananda Swamiji on Monday, and announced that he has decided to shelve the project.
“I met Sri Nirmalananda Swamiji to discuss the film (Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda). He felt that making a film is not an issue but it is of utmost importance to keep in mind that the movie should not hurt the sentiments of any community,” Munirathna told the media.
The minister also made it clear that he had been planning to make a big project based on mythological characters after the success of his Kurukshetra.
He revealed that the idea to make Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda struck him only after former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy referred to him as a filmmaker (producer) when mentioning the two names.
While some documents support the existence of Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, there are also conflicting versions, Munirathna claimed.
Historians have, however, insisted that there is no evidence of the existence of such characters.
“In such a scenario, I may have to include fictional sequences for cinematic purposes. Since this may lead to further confusion and also hurt the sentiments of the concerned communities, I have decided to drop the project,” Munirathna added.
Related: Vokkaliga seer seeks end to ‘the controversy citing lack of evidence
On Sunday, Munirathna announced that the film titled Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda would be made under his banner Vrishabhadri Productions. Earlier, he registered the title with the KFCC.
ವೃಷಬಾದ್ರಿ ಪ್ರೊಡಕ್ಷನ್ ನಿರ್ಮಾಣದ ಐತಿಹಾಸಿಕ ಸತ್ಯ ಘಟನೆಗಳ ಆಧಾರಿತ ‘ಉರೀಗೌಡ ನಂಜೇಗೌಡ’ ಚಿತ್ರದ ಮುಹೂರ್ತ ಮೇ 18ರಂದು ಕಂಠೀರವ ಸ್ಟುಡಿಯೋದಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆಯಲಿದೆ. ಡಾ.ಸಿ.ಎನ್.ಅಶ್ವಥ್ ನಾರಾಯಣ್ ಚಿತ್ರಕಥೆ ಇರುವ ಈ ಚಿತ್ರವನ್ನು ಆರ್.ಎಸ್.ಗೌಡ ನಿರ್ದೇಶನ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾರೆ.#UriGowda #NanjeGowda #Munirathna #VrushabhadriProductions pic.twitter.com/wS2SuW9vdI
— Munirathna (@MunirathnaMLA) March 18, 2023
On his social media accounts, he announced that the film would be officially launched on 18 May at Kanteerava Studios. He also stated that the movie will be presented by the BJP leaders R Ashok and CT Ravi.
Further, Munirathna said he would produce Uri Gowda-Nanje Gowda, which would be based on historical incidents. It will be written for the screen by Higher Education minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan.
However, Ashwath Narayan refuted the news, saying that he was in no way involved in the making of the film.
‘No proper education’
Even the Congress party led by its Chief DK Shivakumar condemned the actions of BJP leaders for making use of fictional characters to disturb the peace between communities for political gain.
“Seems like those who are propagating that the fictional characters Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda killed Tipu Sultan must not have had a proper education. Even the teachers who taught them would be wondering about the same. I strongly condemn any such attempts being made for political gains,” Shivakumar told the media.