MOVIE: Indu Sarkar
CAST: Kirti Kulhari, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Anupam Kher
DIRECTOR: Madhur Bhandarkar
GENRE: Bollywood political thriller
The 1975 Emergency is undoubtedly one of the darkest phases in the history of Indian politics, and director Madhur Bhandarkar tried to portray the same on celluloid with his latest release Indu Sarkar. However, the movie revolved around one "fictional" character, which somehow has narrowed down the impact of the true incident, as well as the film.
Although it is based on the Emergency in India, implemented during the regime of Indira Gandhi, the film's plot circles around one primary character Indu Sarkar (Kirti Kulhari), and no, her character is not that of Indira Gandhi.
Indu is a simple woman, who has a stammering issue, and whose only dream is to become a "good wife". She gets married to an over-ambitious government official Naveen Sarkar (Tota Roy Chowdhury), who wants to become successful and rich at any cost.
Being a puppet in the hands of the government, led by a mother (Supriya Vinod) and son (Neil Nitin Mukesh), Naveen believes the Emergency is his opportunity to make his dreams come true, and thus, is intolerant to any criticisms on the same.
However, Indu eventually realises the atrocities that are being carried on the masses by the government due to the Emergency. She decides to fight against the system.
Although Indu Sarkar highlights the "dictatorship" carried on by the then government, which was run by Indira Gandhi along with her son Sanjay Gandhi, the movie never mentions their names. Indira's character is referred as "Prime Minister" or "Maa", and Sanjay's character is called "chief", which certainly sounds funny.
The term "Emergency" has extensively been used in the movie, and is backed by concrete data on the number of forced sterilisation carried on during that period, number of people made home-less, and all other issues for which the then government was criticised. The director even made sure that the mother-son look exactly the same as Indira and Sanjay, their real-life names are never mentioned.
Looks like, Bhandarkar, who refers to Indu Sarkar as a fictional movie, preferred to keep the Congress leaders' names out, owing to the opposition's protests before its release. That's silly, isn't it?
After receiving a lot of accolades for her performance in Pink, this is Kirti's second big movie. She plays the lead role in Indu Sarkar, and she certainly is impressive as far as acting is concerned. From being a shy stammering girl to becoming a strong determined revolutionary, Kriti pulled off her character very well.
Neil Nitin Mukesh, who is one of the underrated actors, appears to be a perfect doppelganger of Sanjay Gandhi, not just in looks but also in his body language. Neil appears to be tailor-made for the role. Another talented actor Tota Roy Chowdhury is also very good in expressing his emotions. Anupam Kher (activist Nana ji) does not have much screen time. Overall, the movie is pretty good in terms of performances. Supriya's part has vehemently been chopped as she appears just once in the frame, that also at the end.
The stars' performances are the strongest point in the movie, though that could have been bettered if the plot had permitted. Another good thing is there are no songs in the film, which keeps the film's momentum intact. The film is short and crisp.
Although Indu Sarkar highlights the then government's most criticised acts like mass forced sterilisation, forced evacuation, press censorship etc. the director failed to portray those in the expected impactful manner. The movie appears to be a much filtered version of the Emergency, which otherwise involved a lot of bloodshed and public outcry.
Madhur Bhandarkar's Indu Sarkar is a filtered portrayal of one of the darkest phases in the history of Indian politics. Having some impressive performances, the film could have been more impactful if the director dared to make it a movie on the Emergency in the truest sense. However, Congress people will never want you to watch this, but you should, just once.