INDU SARKAR Movie Review: It’s a ‘B’ grade mockery of the horrors of Emergency

 

I have always held the view that Bollywood filmfakers should be banned from making films on Indian history. They don’t have the ‘patrata’ to do it. The Bollywood hustlers like Madhur Bhandarkar are artistically incapable of reading, interpreting, visualizing, and recreating historical events with any sense of integrity and authenticity. They are an intellectually, politically, socially and morally retarded lot. They also lack the guts and gumption to make honest films on political themes.

 

I’m surprised that some of the new-age RSS ideologues like Rakesh Sinha, a self-promoting idiot, have been praising a pathetically developed, characterized, written, enacted, shot and directed film on the subject of the internal emergency declared by Indira Gandhi in 1975.

 

The beginning credits of this ‘B’ grade film flash the names of Kuldip Nayar, Coomi Kapoor, and Ram Bahadur Rai as if they have authenticated and endorsed its content. Well-known columnist Kuldip Nayar was arrested during the Emergency and was released on parole after months of incarceration on health grounds. Coomi Kapoor, a well-connected Delhi journalist of long standing, recently wrote a book on Emergency and its excesses. Her husband Virender Kapoor was arrested in those dark days. Ram Bahadur Rai was a key figure and one of the masterminds behind the JP Movement. He was arrested under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) even before the Emergency was declared.

 

These people had the first hand experience of those times. I am certain they cannot approve of Bhandarkar’s balderdash and an insipid apology of a movie on the Emergency. I can say this with absolute confidence because I, as an 18-year-old, also lived through those dark days with my father jailed. He was the zilla Sanghchalak of Ballia. I was a student activist even at that young age and an old case against me related to a political agitation was revived. That made my relatives sent me packing to Hyderabad. My father nearly died in jail before being released on parole. And I don't know how did my mother dealt with the situation then. My sister worked hard to secure his parole in time. My parents and my sister never let me know what they went through until much later.

Bhandarkar is into anecdotal screenwriting. He develops his scripts using familiar anecdotes about a subject, without caring to research and explore it in depth. He does not have to. The retard is showered with national awards and honors like Padma Shri for the crap he produces. Chandani Bar was the only worthwhile film made by him in my opinion.

 

Indu Sarkar is the worst of all his anecdotal films. It’s a poorly developed and directed work. He does the biggest disservice to the subject by pinning the blame of Emergency on Sanjay Gandhi, using him as the whipping boy. That’s the subterfuge almost every apologist of Emergency and honchos of Congress party have repeatedly used to protect the reputation of the queen bee. They have deliberately tried to portray as if her younger son Sanjay held her as a hostage. That’s pure bullshit.

 

Sanjay Gandhi came on to the political scene much later. Indira Gandhi was always into muzzling or misusing the media, and smothering her political opponents through the use of almost every instrument of the state, from intelligence agencies and police to the Income Tax department and Governors. All her minions indulged in it much prior to the Emergency, which was not a break from the pattern but the continuation and zenith of the rule of an autocrat and control freak.

 

Indira Gandhi was the one who developed, mastered, and popularized the art of blatant straight-faced lying to the electorate practiced now by almost all new age politicians, from Mayavati to Mamata, Lalu, and Kejariwal. She also perfected the art of making money by distributing contracts of supplies to the Russians to Indian businessmen for a hefty commission. Rajeev Gandhi and Sonia were only following her modus operandi in the Bofors case. Businessmen loved the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. They knew they could deal with it and buy their way out. In fact the big businessmen in India love and feel comfortable in the company of corrupt politicians. They hate idealism and idealists.

 

The entire film revolves around two issues, the Turkman Gate drive against encroachment and the family planning drive through coerced male sterilizations known as ‘nasbandi’. It even fails to recreate the horrors and true nature of these undemocratic actions of Indira sarkar. It’s an ineffective harmless un-cinematic caricature coupled with shoddy characterizations. Nothing in this film reflects the reality of those times. It turns the Emergency into a big joke.

 

For those who don’t have an idea of what was it like during the Emergency, let me describe you the political-social-cultural scenario of India in those dark days.

 

Can you imagine a situation where a generally raucous and cacophonous population of India from north to south and east to west is TOTALLY silenced? I’m talking about the entire population, young and old, men and women, educated and illiterate, poor and rich, Hindus and Muslims, urban and rural, intellectuals and businessmen, and all and sundry. That was the terror of emergency. While travelling in a local train or bus, you could not even talk to a fellow passenger openly as you could never be sure if he was a policeman in mufti or a Congress worker or a Communist who might get you arrested.

 

That’s how it was. The nation was teaming with the spies of the regime; it was like the Communist Russia. You had to suffer the indignity and oppression silently. A few political activists, mostly from RSS, ABVP, Jan Sangh, and some socialists, would offer satyagrah and get arrested amidst indifferent and mute crowds that turned their eyes away as if nothing had happened. In university campuses the goons of NSUI (Youth wing of Congress), and AISF(Youth wing of CPI) and left wing/Congi academics acted as the ears and eyes of a totalitarian regime. They ensured there prevailed total silence in academia and if anyone raised even a whimper of protest or muted voice of dissent, was threatened, silenced, or arrested.

 

Those who were arrested, particularly the ones from the RSS, were resigned to a fate of life long incarceration. The RSS bore the brunt of the ire and ferocity of Indira, her Congress party and the leftists. Leftists of all hues were united in cleansing the academia of nationalist thinkers.

 

You hardly get a sense of this oppressive and terrorized state of the nation during the Emergency in the mise-en-scene of Bhandarkar’s film.

 

He makes it look as if the Communists were opposed to the Emergency. Contrary to that they were privy to and complicit in Indira’s diabolic plans and happily colluded with her in its precise execution on ground. Bhandarkar should be ashamed of himself for having pre-empted a great subject and pathetically caricatured an epochal event that changed the course of Indian history.

 

Rajesh Kumar Singh  

@khulkebolo @neelnabh

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