‘Swatantra Veer Savarkar’ True Story & Real-Life References, Explained


Zee5 Global film, Swatantra Veer Savarkar, directed by Randeep Hooda, claims that it is inspired by true events, but at times, the makers take a certain viewpoint that is in contradiction to what we have read in various reports in the past. The film speaks with a lot of clarity, and the makers want you to believe in their narrative. But it is important to understand where the truth was represented as it is, and where the makers took certain creative liberties to distort the events and present them in a manner that favored their stance.

Spoiler Alert

Did Savarkar actually burn foreign clothes? 

It is true that Savarkar and his elder brother Ganesh started Abhinav Bharat, a secret society, through which they wanted to fight against imperial masters and put fuel to the fire of the Indian freedom struggle. It is shown in the film that Savarkar took charge of things when Lokmanya Tilak launched the Swadeshi movement. Tilak wanted the Britishers to know that the entire country was united under one banner, and by burning foreign clothes, he believed that the message could be delivered loud and clear. But Tilak hadn’t started the movement just to show the media or cause some ripples that fizzled out after a day or two. He wanted the movement to be impactful, and that’s when Savarkar came to the forefront and assured him that he would make sure that the flames of the fire reached Buckingham Palace and the British knew that their time was up. Savarkar, in reality, burned the foreign clothes, and he delivered what he promised to Tilak. 

Did Bhagat Singh idolize Savarkar? 

This, I believe, was the part of the film that was quite misleading, not because what was shown was not true, but because only a part of the entire event was portrayed, and thereby, it changed the entire context. Bhagat Singh did have a lot of respect for Vinayak Savarkar, and he also vouched for his brand of revolution, but the leader of the HSRA was totally against the Hindutva ideology of Veer Savarkar. In fact, Bhagat Singh had gone on record and said that we can still get rid of the foreign forces and their brutality, but it is very difficult to get rid of cultural slavery. The letter “S,” which stood for socialist, was added to his party’s name, i.e., Hindustan Republican Association, as Bhagat Singh not only wanted to make India independent, but he also wanted a just and fair society. Bhagat Singh had extremely secular views, and he knew that more than imperialism, what could internally break the nation was the rift and enmity created between the two religions. He knew that if the matter was not dealt with in a proper manner, one day, the entire nation would burn in the fire of hatred, and the upcoming generation would have the hardest time controlling the issue. Bhagat Singh was not more than 21 years old when he said that, but the contemporary times stand proof of how right he was.

Bhagat Singh always quashed the claims of those who said that they needed to save their religion and fight for it. The young revolutionary never understood how that was possible, and he never believed that people could ever pose a threat to one’s religion. It is to be noted here that Bhagat Singh opposed the views of Mahatma Gandhi, but he liked to follow a code of conduct even when he had a grudge against the person. Bhagat Singh always said that the key to maintaining peaceful relationships between the different religious groups was simply to urge the leaders to keep religion and politics separate. Obviously, that was not going to happen, and how could it have happened when the political leaders saw that religion could be used to lure in voters or supporters? 

It was shown in Swatantra Veer Savarkar that Bhagat Singh was inspired by the book that Savarkar wrote (which was true), but the film forgot to mention that he was strongly against the views the latter held about religion. Now, this, for me, becomes misleading as you conveniently chose not to speak about a part of the information to support your narrative, and it changed the dynamics entirely. I understand that it is a film, and often, makers take certain creative liberties, but tampering with the facts, speaking half truths, and presenting a distorted narrative that compels you to believe a certain way without proper evidence is not right. 

Why Did Savarkar kill Gandhi? 

Now there were two big questions that the film tried to answer: the first was that the mercy petition was written by Savarkar as a result of the advice given by Mahatma Gandhi to his brother, Narayan Savarkar, and the second was that the leader of the Hindu Mahasabah had absolutely no role to play in Gandhi’s assassination. Well, historical references, the evidence, and the facts are not as clear as Randeep Hooda’s film portrays them to be. There is a set of people who believe that Nathuram Godse, Narayan Apte, together with Dattatraya Parchure, Vishnu Karkare, MadanLal Pahwa, Digambar Badge, and Shankar Kistaiya, conspired to kill the Mahatma, and Savarkar had prior knowledge about it.

According to the reports published by many media houses, just before the assassination, Apte and Godse visited Savarkar to take his blessings, but it is also true that the court acquitted the latter due to a lack of evidence. Now, there is another sect that believes that Savarkar was implicated only because Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to do so, as he was somehow insecure about the growing popularity of the man. The conspiracy has not been solved to date. That said, the film tries to make it look like an open-and-shut case. But I believe that a viewer should always make their choice, and it’s foolish to get influenced by a film when the agenda of the makers is quite blatantly clear. Swatantra Veer Savarkar was a good film, insightful too, and there is no denying it. But my problem still remains: how could one conveniently show that great revolutionaries like Subhash Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh believed a certain way when you know it is not the truth? I implore the makers to state the facts as they are and tell the viewers about the entire issue together with the context because not doing that accounts for fraudulently influencing their viewpoint. If Randeep Hooda had chosen to show a scene where Bhagat Singh spoke about how he was influenced by Savarkar’s work, then a scene should have been added where he criticized his ideologies about Hinduism. I believe that would have been fair for the viewers and given them an opportunity to decide for themselves.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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