London, Nov 8 : A film showing Turkey's founding hero, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, as a frustrated loner and heavy drinker with a smoking habit, has caused an uproar in the country where he is worshipped.
Titled Mustafa, the film was released on the 85th anniversary of the Turkish Republic founded by Ataturk.
Seen by nearly half a million people in its first five days, Mustafa is playing to packed audiences that include busloads of schoolchildren. ut, an apparently human portrayal of the man has upset many in the secularist establishment.
Ataturk is the man who abolished the Islamic Caliphate and set Turkey on the road to modernisation.
"Ataturk is shown as lonely and without hope, with a weakness for women, who drinks a bottle of raki a day and regrets things he has done. This is simply not true," Times Online quoted Deniz Baykal, the leader of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), founded by Ataturk, as saying.
The film traces Ataturk's journey since he was a lonely young boy to being the man who led his followers to victory in the 1919-23 independence war.
But, reports suggest that the suicide of his lover and his failed marriage left Ataturk without family, and some of his closest friends were found guilty of an attempt to assassinate him.
Towards the end of his life, when he hands over the reins of power, he is shown as wandering his residences in Ankara and Istanbul in boredom and frustration, drinking and smoking heavily, sometimes drifting off and sometimes crying with emotion at what he describes in his diaries as tedious dinners with the same old crowd.
This depiction is quite opposite to what he's long been perceived as- a strong, silent, all-seeing sage who was loved by one and all and could do no wrong. In the current constitution, written after a military coup in 1980, Ataturk is referred to as immortal.
In fact, even attempts to make reforms as radical as the ones he saw through are today blocked in his name.
There is even a law against insulting Ataturk, which led to his ex-wife's biographer being taken to court.
The current furore even surprised the mild-mannered film-maker Can Dundar, whose usual romantic historical documentaries rarely court anything approaching controversy. "If the film has done any harm it is to those who for years have used his name to hide his revolutionary character, allow his works to be censored, imprison him in cliches by dogmatising him despite his own objections and who profit from his name. Ataturk had nothing to hide," said Dundar in his defence.