The three-tier cascading fountain at the Maidan is dancing to the tunes of patriotic songs to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose.
In all, 10 songs that were popularly played in the Indian National Army (INA), the force that Netaji had set up to fight for the country’s independence, are being played at the CESC Fountain of Joy. They include ‘Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja’, ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Sare Jahan Se Achcha’, ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ and ‘Hum Dilli Dilli Jayenge Aur Apna Hind Banayenge’.
While the Fountain of Joy is about the interplay of light, sound and water, light and sound played a crucial role in one of the most thrilling chapters in Netaji’s life: the Great Escape in January 1941. Interned in his house at 38/2 Elgin Road, Bose had in the early hours of January 17 slipped out. He had surfaced in Germany three months later.
“It was 1.20am on January 17, 1941. Apart from Netaji, who was all set to embark on the clandestine journey, there were only four family members present in the room at the Elgin Road address that is now known as Netaji Bhawan: Sisir Bose, Ila Bose, Dijendra Nath Bose and Aurobinda Bose,” said Abhijit Ray, the grand nephew of Netaji who has researched on the thrilling episode.
Disguised as a bearded Muslim, Subhas Bose had turned to his niece Ila and said, “Let the light in my room stay on for another hour at least.” He then asked Dijendra Nath to go up, check if all were asleep, cast a glance at the opposite pavement from a window to see if any cops in plain dress were about and then signal if all was clear. The light in his room was to act as a decoy and misguide cops into believing that Netaji was working till late. Dijendra Nath went up to check if all was clear and then cleared his throat. That was the signal that the coast was clear.
Ila Bose had packed the holdall that Netaji carried. The only personal belongings that he took with himself were a gold-plated wristwatch given to him by his mother Prabhabati and a gold-plated pen gifted by Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das.
As Sisir Bose drove away, Subhas Bose bid farewell to the family house that had been built by his father Janakinath Bose, a well-known lawyer in Cuttack, in 1909. CESC, then a British firm, had lit up the house. Subhas moved in from Cuttack in 1913 for higher studies in Kolkata.