After crossing a sea of hurdles, the much-touted take on the dark periods of Indian emergency by acclaimed filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar Indu Sarkar was released on the silver screen a couple of days ago. After facing the wrath of the autocratic Congress party, enraged at the blunt portrayal of the dark era of the Emergency, and the overactive Censor Board, who recommended an arbitrary 12 cuts in the movie, the movie was finally released without any major cut robbing off the film’s essence, with the Supreme Court surprisingly coming to the rescue of the movie, quashing ridiculous pleas made by Priti Pal, the alleged daughter of Sanjay Gandhi, to ban it,
However, if there’s one thing Madhur Bhandarkar failed to keep in mind, it was the evil eye of the so-called film reviewers, mostly on the payrolls of the left liberal intelligentsia, who would stoop to any level to deny the film of its true audience. You don’t believe me? Then see this: –
Madhur Bhandarkar’s Film Is A Vapid, Political Potboiler – NDTV Review
This Madhur Bhandarkar film on Emergency is worse than Emergency – India Today Review
A watered-down, bloodless version of the Emergency – The Indian Express Review
Yes, these are the very lines used by the so-called reviewers, just to make sure that a bold take on the dark era of the Indian Emergency, and certainly one of the best films of Madhur Bhandarkar after ‘Fashion’, Indu Sarkar dies a silent death of its own. Fun Fact, two of them are the same guys, i.e. the ones from India Today and Rediff, who mocked Vivek Agnihotri’s ‘Buddha in a Traffic Jam without even actually seeing it.
This is not all. Normally I don’t pinpoint people, but there’s one film critic I’d specifically want to carve out from the muddle of these so-called film reviewers, i.e. Shubhra Gupta from The Indian Express. On a normal day, she’ll leave no stone unturned to rip apart the caricatures of a movie, never giving anything more than two stars to the same, no matter how great or charming the movie is. Not to go very far, she rated Indu Sarkar So we need to know if Indu Sarkar is actually a tale worth watching or just another rhetoric masquerading in the name of a cinematic delight. So there you go.
The film is a fictional take on the Indian emergency, through the eyes of Indu [Kirti Kulhari], an orphan poetess, who stutters while speaking, bereaving her of prospective parents or grooms, until she meets Navin Sarkar [Tota Roy Chowdhury], an aspiring civil servant, who wants to make it big by any means possible, and in this very scenario, steps in the drastic step of internal emergency, imposed upon India in 1975, that draws a line between the seemingly docile Indu and the aggressive Navin, who won’t hear a word against it, thanks to his sycophancy to Om Nath Rai, the Minister of Commerce, who wishes to see Navin make it big during this period, while himself cosying up to his Chief, the notorious Sanjay Gandhi [Neil Nitin Mukesh], who wishes to stamp his dictatorial authority all over India.
Indu on the other hand, doesn’t tolerate the atrocities meted out to the hapless innocents on the streets of Delhi, and after being betrayed by her own husband, she joins hands with Himmat India Organization, an underground group of revolutionary activists led by a Gandhian revolutionary Nanaji, who is a master of disguise. What follows is a conversion from the stuttering poetess to a bold activist, who won’t stop at anything in her fight to free India from the autocratic despotism of the Gandhis.
After his disastrous outings like ‘Heroine’ and ‘Calendar Girls’, the director Madhur Bhandarkar has come back into action with this movie. He has paid a significant attention to the era of that times, and has ensured that nothing is left behind. From the interiors to the landscapes of Delhi, whether in the posh localities or in the underbellies near the Turkman Gate, Madhur Bhandarkar has successfully recreated the era well. The sweet lingering of retro music, as noticed in one of the romantic scenes between Indu and Naveen, is another delight to witness.
Besides that, the way in which the policemen dealt with the hapless and the innocent, whether at Turkman Gate, or in relation to the forced family planning drive, Madhur Bhandarkar manages to make you cringe in disgust at the brazen apathy shown towards the masses by the Indira government, where ministers just wished to make the ‘mother son’ duo happy. You cannot smile in any way, when you see an old man and a teenager asking the police why they’re being forced for vasectomy [or nasbandi as it is notoriously known for]
Even the RSS, which is hounded by one and all, has been given a significant space, where it is shown how they were unjustly captured and hounded in the name of maintaining internal security. Above all those, you’r ready to puke on the moment you hear of a so called conference of Commonwealth nations, which tries to portray India as a hunky dory nation, whether nothing is wrong. There is also a scene, where we hear of Kishore Kumar’s songs being banned on All India Radio, just for the fact that he refused to join the troupe of artistes in praising the concept of family planning, on the orders of Sanjay Gandhi.
It is these very scenes of the Indian emergency that the paid reviewers don’t want you to see. Most importantly, they don’t want us to know how people used to exist in such dark periods, and then they claim a democratically elected, nationalist government to be Fascist! Oh, the irony of it!
The effort put by the actors in the movie is a class apart. While the lead actress Kirti Kulhari certainly deserves a significant chunk of the accolades, a special mention should be made for Anupam Kher, who shone in the little screen space given to him. Neil Nitin Mukesh has returned with a bang, and despite not being named in the film, looks equally menacing as the brutally spoilt brat, and a despot that was Sanjay Gandhi. Even Tota Roy Chowdhury did not look dramatic in his portrayal of the over ambitious Navin Sarkar.
The supporting cast was no less amazing. From Ankur Vikal, who plays the role of Shivam Reddy, an impatient activist well, to the girl who reminded some of the notorious sycophant or moll of Sanjay Gandhi, Rukhsana Sultana, they have made their presence felt in the movie.
What could’ve been Better:-
The sound effects were one thing that Madhur Bhandarkar could’ve worked on. There were some scenes, where overtly melodramatic tones robbed the dialogues of its essence that Madhur Bhandarkar wished to portray.
If it were not for this one flaw, apart from the movie being a bit crisper, Indu Sarkar would’ve been a masterpiece to remember for life.
Certainly, it’s not the best piece of Madhur Bhandarkar, but when everyone refrains from speaking their heart out , Madhur Bhandarkar at least made an effort to bring the truth, and he did it pretty well.
My personal rating for this movie would be a 7.5/10. Indu Sarkar, except for the overt soundings, is a movie worth a watch.
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