Bollywood actor and “shaanti ke neta” Bertrand Russell

by Debojit Dutta

It must be amusing to some people to know that Bertrand Russell who was a philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, social critic and political activist, was also for a few minutes in his life an actor, and that too in Bollywood.

The 1967 Rajendra Kumar-Saira Banu starrer Aman, which dealt with the aftermath of the nuclear disaster of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the human lives post it, had a rather curious scene where Russell is seen sharing screen with Jubilee Kumar. The frail 95-year-old British philosopher at that stage of his life was benevolently allowing his time and advice to the willing ears of anyone who cared for world peace threatened by nuclear weapons (Wiki entry of the Russell-Einstein manifesto).

In the movie Kumar plays the role of a doctor who after completing his studies in London instead of going back to India decides to go to Japan and serve those affected by one of the worst human-inflicted disasters in history.

The scene — succeeding one with an effusive Rajendra Kumar and another character with a Bengali Hindi accent calling Russell “Andhakar mein Suryadevta (Sun in the darkness)”, and the only ray of hope and Kumar thanking and saluting Russell’s photo hung on the wall of his house — has “Shanti ke neta Lord Russell” blessing the hero to succeed in his project.

Did Russell have any idea that his protégé would end up meeting a Japanese Saira Banu?

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