Indu Sarkar: An Underplayed and Misleading Account of Agony
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Director Madhur Bhandarkar never shies away from exposing a fictional scandal. He douses his subjects in drama and reveals their deepest and darkest fears through a thought-provoking premise. But in his recent film, Indu Sarkar, the director chooses to downplay an incident that ripped Indians of their freedom. This is why this diluted and weakened account of a troubling and real incident should be deemed overlookable.
Indu Sarkar is based on the state of emergency declared in India for a period of twenty one months by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In a time that stripped many Indians of their freedom, the film also records many unjust acts that took place including forced sterilization, slum demolition and press oppression. All these events are covered through the perspective of a woman named Indu.
One of the main reasons why you will find Indu Sarkar immensely infuriating is for the abundance of denial and ignorance it packs. It never once, takes the names of Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. In fact, it deems its happenings to be fictitious. The whole purpose of the film is lost when it chooses to never own up to the real agony caused to millions of Indian Citizens all across the nation. How can one claim to centre a story around this sensitive subject if they blindly refuse to acknowledge it in a realistic manner?
This film is an apt example of what has become of a creator’s freedom in India. The politicians of our country have become so hostile that the only way a film like Indu Sarkar could see the light of day is if it plays it safe. This very act of playing it safe is unfortunately the sole reason for the film’s downfall.
For all the hype and hoopla surrounding the film’s release, Indu Sarkar barely covers the oppression faced by people during the Emergency state. Indu’s character is sketched solely to milk your emotions and none of her efforts to break free translates to real heroism. A layer of superficiality is prevalent even among the characters that portray Indira and Sanjay Gandhi. When you finally get used to the superficiality, an unsettling wave of inauthenticity washes over you in the form of meaningless props and plot elements. Indira Gandhi’s supposedly modern portrayal is equivalent to a soldier wearing sun-glasses during the world war one. Both these scenarios are irrelevant and unrealistic.
As Indu, Kirti Kulhari delivers a restrained performance. She utters her dialogues half-heartedly and most of the times, she holds back, accentuating her inorganic performance all the more. As Chief, Neil Nithin Mukhesh is good but his efforts are lost on a cautiously written character.
If promoted rightfully, Indu Sarkar wouldn’t have hit you half as hard. Why promote it as a film based on the Emergency, when the story really is about Indu’s journey to righteousness. Due to this confusion, neither of the characters under focus receives the premise they deserve.
Indu Sarkar boasts of consistent and authentic Art Direction. Even visually, the film thrives. Whatever little friction the plot creates, the visuals accentuate it. The songs too, arrive at the right moment, making them a significant part of the whole picture. Madhur Bhandharkar’s trademark drama is especially heightened by the affecting notes of a mellifluous flute.
On the whole, Indu Sarkar thrusts multiple disclaimers upon you, but when it comes to fulfillment, it runs empty. If you are looking for a gripping tale supported by a stern claim, you will most definitely be disappointed by the film.