Indu Sarkar isn't the first film to face the Congress' ire for its depiction of Gandhi family, Emergency

FP Staff

Jun,20 2017 13:59 40 IST

The Madhur Bhandarkar-directed Indu Sarkar — based on the Emergency declared in India in 1975 — has become the subject of the Congress' ire.

Congress spokesperson Jyotiraditya Scindia said Indu Sarkar was "fully sponsored", adding, "The organisation and the individual who is behind the film is known to us. We totally condemn the false depictions in the film".

Bhandarkar has said that he made the film as it was essential to educate today's generation about the Emergency. In his film, Kirti Kulhari plays a housewife-turned-activist, who takes on the authorities after witnessing the excesses of the Emergency.

One scene has Anupam Kher exhorting Kirti: "Bharat ki ek beti ne desh to bandi banaya hua hai. Tum wo beti bano, jo desh ko mukti ka marg dikha sake."

It also features vignettes of actors portraying Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi (played by Neil Nitin Mukesh) as they order ever-greater injustices on the populace.

Stills from Madhur Bhandarkar's Indu Sarkar. YouTube screengrabs

Stills from Madhur Bhandarkar's Indu Sarkar. YouTube screengrabs

indu sarkar still2 indu sarkar still3

Incidentally, the Central Board of Film Certification chief Pahlaj Nihalani had said that Bhandarkar would not have to seek any No Objection Certificate for his film, contrary to rules that state films about real incidents and situations require NOCs from the concerned people.

Nihalani said: "Indu Sarkar does not name anyone. There is no mention of Indira Gandhi or Sanjay Gandhi or anyone else in the trailer. You are only presuming the film is about (them) because of the physical resemblance."

Just a few days before that, Nihalani had been reported as saying the makers of The Accidental Prime Minister — a film on Manmohan Singh, based on the book of the same name by Sanjay Baru, and starring Anupam Kher — would have to abide by the guidelines regarding all films based on real-life characters. “The Accidental Prime Minister's, producer Sunil Bohra will have to get an NOC from Manmohan Singhji, Sonia Gandhiji and all the other real-life politicians who are part of the narrative. This rule applies without fail. There are no exceptions,” Nihalani was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

Indu Sarkar is not the first film on the Emergency to run afoul of the Congress.

When Gulzar's Aandhi (featuring Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar in the leads) had released in 1975, it was amid a huge row over its alleged depiction of Indira and Feroze Gandhi's relationship.

The film drew attention because Suchitra Sen's character, a politician named Arti Dev, seemed modelled on Indira Gandhi, right down to the silver streak in her hair.

After assurances from the makers of Aandhi that the film was not based on Indira, the then Information and Broadcasting minister IK Gujral, cleared it for release.

However, the film was pulled out of theatres when the Emergency was declared some time later — just when it was in the midst of a very successful 20-week run. It was only after the Janata Party came to power after the 1977 national elections that the film was cleared once again, and broadcast on television.

Kissa Kursi Ka, Amrit Nahata's 1977 film that satirised the politics of Indira and Sanjay Gandhi, was banned and all prints confiscated by the government during the Emergency. In a twist of fate, the film proved to be a thorn in Sanjay Gandhi's side — it landed him and then I&B minister VC Shukla in a 11-month long legal case for destroying all the prints and the master-print of the film: Sanjay spent a month in jail, with the court denying him bail, on the charge of burning the prints, while Shukla was sentenced to prison for two years.

Most recently, the Soha Ali Khan-Vir Das starrer 31st October (about the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi) suffered a setback in the run-up to its release when a Congress aide filed a PIL against it for portraying an unspecified political figure "in a bad light".

Meanwhile, the Ajay Devgn-Emraan Hashmi starrer Baadshaho is also set during the Emergency. However, it seems to have eschewed political drama in favour of a desert action adventure.

— With inputs from IANS