Indu Sarkar (2017) : Movie Review
Indu Sarkar : Most of us have not witnessed the emergency rule imposed in the mid 70s by then prime minister Indira Gandhi. As a kid born in that infamous era, I had once asked my dad if he faced any hardships during that 21 month period when freedom of speech and basic human rights were curbed. His answer was in the negative…Instead he said the Govt machinery was actually efficient during that time and sarkari babus would report to office on time plus trains ran as per schedule. I was amused to hear this fact reiterated as a dialogue in Madhur Bhandarkar’s latest film ‘Indu Sarkar’.
The title, by the way, doesn’t refer to Indira Gandhi and her autocratic Sarkar. It is actually the screen name of Bhandarkar’s main lead Kirti Kulhari, a diffident orphan with a stammer as bad as Jagga Jasoos, who settles for a cosy marital life with a Government stooge (Tota Roy Chowdhury). Witnessing the horrors of the Turkman gate demolition, Indu takes custody of two kids orphaned in that destruction and it changes her perspective towards life making her rebel against the tyrannical system.
Madhur Bhandarkar has recreated most of the atrocities committed in name of the fascist five point programme spearheaded by Sanjay Gandhi (Neil Nitin Mukesh) referred in the movie only as the ‘Chief’ by his cronies – obvious caricatures of Jagdish Tytler, Kamal Nath and Rukhsana Sultana (named Farzana here). Right from the forced sterlization of men from 13 to 70 years of age to the banning of Kishore Kumar songs on Doordarshan and All India Radio (the only medium of entertainment in those times) – it’s all neatly chronicled here.
What’s not – and I was tad disappointed with that – is depiction of the opposition role during those turbulent times. Our protagonist Indu goes and joins a five member fictitious organisation called Himmat India Sanghatan headed by a leader (Anupam Kher in a cameo) with an ideology of non violence ignoring the real life contribution of the RSS and Jayaprakash Narayan’s Janata Party which is merely accorded a passing reference. Not done!!!
On the acting front, Madhur has extracted a superlative performance from Kirti Kulhari. No surprises there as the director could make even Bipasha Basu ”act” in his ‘Corporate’ (2006). Kirti also gets a court room confrontation scene a la ‘Pink’ (2016) and nails it to perfection. Tota Roy Chowdhury is impressive as her hubby who owes allegiance to the Gandhi Sarkar only to further his career. He pays the price for it. Neil Nitin Mukesh registers himself strongly with a striking resemblance to Sanjay Gandhi. Satyajeet Sharma and Sheeba Chaddha leave an impression even in their small roles.
All in all, Indu Sarkar is a fairly engaging account of independent India’s most deplorable piece of history. Pertinent even today where some pseudo intellectuals returned awards as mark of protest against so-called intolerance in the country. Only in that era, they wouldn’t have got the time to return their awards….they would have been jailed for eternity!