Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
Writers:Madhur Bhandarkar (story screenplay), Sanjay Chhel(dialogue)
Stars: Anupam Kher, Kirti Kulhari, Neil Nitin Mukesh
IMbd Ratings : 9.1
In line with Bollywood’s known aversion to hot-button political themes, Mumbai filmmakers have rarely tackled the Emergency and its repercussions. To that extent, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar may seem to be filling a gap despite coming at a time when the circumstances are just right for taking jabs at the mother and son duo who nearly ran our democracy around 40 years ago. But beyond that, it is a vapid, half-baked, mawkish political potboiler that comes nowhere near doing justice to that dark phase of Indian contemporary history that is better off not forgotten lest it is repeated.
The spotlight isn’t so much on Indira Gandhi – she appears once on screen, impersonated by actress Supriya Vinod – as on Sanjay Gandhi whose excesses sparked mass resentment across the country. But by far the most footage is gobbled up by an ordinary fictional woman – Indu Sarkar of the title – who sheds copious tears after falling prey to the chicaneries of an ambitious husband who, in turn, is a slave to an opaque and oppressive system aimed at snatching away people’s fundamental rights.
Lack of genuine creative acuity and a cavalier attitude to period details are the film’s biggest drawbacks. The former glitch derails, among other things, the characterization of the then Prime Minister’s son (played pretty competently by Neil Nitin Mukesh but to no avail), who emerged as an extra-constitutional authority calling the shots in Delhi during the 21 months that the nation was under Emergency.
Bollywood has never been great with political cinema. Even by those lax standards, Indu Sarkar is the pits. It is high on dramatic flourish, low on impact. So insipid is the 139-minute film, it leaves you wondering why on earth it has seen the light of day unless you deign to consider the political purpose that it serves in the current political scenario. It’s hard to find a purely cinematic reason for its existence.