Kirti Kulhari, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Tota Roy Choudhary, Anupam Kher
Madhur Bhandarkar is a name that we have long associated with some rather bold subjects and fearless filmmaking. However this badge of honor seems to be slipping off his shoulders ever since he started making films like CALENDAR GIRLS, and then he declared – INDU SARKAR. The amount of political eyeballs this movie has garnered with its first look is far more than the number of people who have suffered the aftermath of the emergency, with any residue of angst from the 70s walking amongst us today.
The movie begins with a disclaimer stating the film is a figment of the director’s imagination, and you forgive him. The emergency might be a thing of the past but the grandeur of democracy that we boast of is pretty illusive and we all know that. So Madhur does what everyone has been doing since time immemorial, not use the real names which makes everything real fictitious enough for the censor board to pass without any glitches.
So the film starts off talking about Indu (Kirti Kulhari) an orphan who happens to find love and normalcy, only to have to all blown up with the political emergency set off by the reigning political party of the 70s. Her husband Mr. Sarkar (Tota Roy Choudhary), who she believes is the only man who has seen her for who she is beyond her stutter and lack of familial roots, turns out to be someone who not only adheres with the politico’s ideas for calling on an emergency, but also propagates them – she no longer knows her right from wrong. The stammering, lost girl decides she cannot let basic human rights be violated so brutally and takes a stand. Sounds good? Well, it is in parts pretty decent. The inhuman forced sterilization, the political pressure and its basic bullying are all showcased in the film making the film brutally realistic…
Especially when you have Chief (Neil Nitin Mukesh) onscreen because the characterization is perfect and his quiet calculations are eerie. Despite the grit Indu shows in the face of the menace, the film and the filmmaker decide to play it very safe. Though the film has checked all the boxes when it comes to the major facts that are commonly known about the emergency, Madhur has not scratched beyond the surface and give us something that is beyond common knowledge. Subsequently, Indu Sarkar does nothing really to stun as it should have.
Getting good actors, taking umpteen look tests to zero in on one which holds such remarkable resemblance with reality and Madhur seems to have perceived his job done. As a filmmaker, his contribution to film lacks details, and the grit that the actors show while delivering their performances. While Kirti, Nitin and Tota have given their blood to the project – Bhandarkar has merely juxtaposed a few things from the history books and taken a convenient path. It is not fair to the people associated with the film, neither is it fair to the audience who felt the film would have offered a lot more! The dialogues of the film by Sanjay Chhel oscillate from being hard hitting to downright clichéd in parts - the lack of consistency costs the film dearly. The only redeeming factors are the actors; more’s the pity to have failed them all because for most of them, this was their ticket to glory days.