British funded film about the British East India Company under fire for anti-British bias

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The British government-backed UK Film Council has been attacked for investing pounds 150,000 of lottery funds in a Bollywood film that savages British rule in India.

Historians say The Rising: Ballad of Mangal Pandey, which is the most expensive film ever made in India, is littered with historical inaccuracies.

The movie, which features Bollywood star Aamir Khan and the British actor Toby Stephens, is damning about the rule of the British East India company in the years leading up to the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

The pounds 6.5 million production, which is largely in English and which opened across Britain on Friday, accuses the company of murdering civilians to further its interests and of flouting the Empire-wide ban on slavery.

In one scene an officer is shown bidding for a slave girl who is sent to a brothel for the exclusive use of British officers. Later, a fellow officer orders the destruction of a village and its defenceless inhabitants after they refuse to set aside land for opium production.

Saul David, the author of the acclaimed The Indian Mutiny: 1857, attacked the depictions as fabrication.

"I am no apologist for the British East India Company but I have never come across any evidence which supports either of these assertions," he said. "It is nonsense. Of course a certain amount of criticism is justified but this sounds like vilification of the British just for the sake of it."

He added: "The East India Company did trade in opium but I have no knowledge of a massacre like this and I do not believe it happened."

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Kenneth T. Tellis - 8/17/2005

There was no question that the East India Company did many bad things in India during its control. But there were many in India during that time, that carried out brutality, far worse than the Brish East India Company.

One has only to remember Suraj-ud-Daulah, the Sultan of Bengal and the Black Hole of Calcutta, to realize that the Indian were not so innocent as they now claim to be. Another of those blood thirsty Indians was Tipu Sultan, who forced British captives to jump over a cliff in Mysore.

So lets put away the story of the innocent people of India, because there were none. As for the Rani of Jansi, that maufactured figure of the Indian Mutiny, please put that down to cheap propaganda.