Verdict: Bhandarkar's tale is layered. Pay attention.
Firstly, Indu Sarkar's release should be a joyous moment, considering the heavy censorship that has now kind of become a norm. Secondly, let us clarify that the movie is not about the Emergency nor is it about Indu's sarkar. It's about a rather timid, introverted woman, Indu Sarkar, who steps out of her comfort zone to fight a political decision that is destroying her life. The film sets the tone with a dramatic representation of the atrocities on people because of nassbandi imposed on people during the time of Emergency in 1975.
Indu (Kirti Kulhari) is a quiet, introverted orphan who does not find a home because of her speech impediment – she stammers. All she wants from life is to have a home, be a good wife and have a loving family. Fair enough. She finds her life partner in Navin Sarkar (the very handsome Tota Roy Chowdhury), who is a very important man and a khaas of a very powerful minister, Om Nath. Together they are going to make the most of the Emergency, notwithstanding the problems of the citizens. Navin turns a blind eye towards the plight of the people. However, during one of the “Jhuggi Hatao” beautification drive, Turkman Nagar is razed to the ground, killing a lot of people and leaving two children in Indu's custody, somehow. Indu brings them home and Navin is not happy. This is exactly the kind of thing he was trying to ignore. Indu decides to protest against the Emergency by leaving her home and joining Himmat India Sangathan, led by an ahimsavaadi Nanaji (Anupam Kher).
While Indu Sarkar is a story of the metamorphosis of the aforementioned quiet, timid girl into a kraantikaari, you must keep in mind that the fictional story takes place with the backdrop of real Emergency of 1975, which lasted for 19 months. Bhandarkar takes us to an era where the government dictated what the public should listen to on the radio, how many children to have, what they should say and what they should read. Press censorship was strict and the hopeless dystopian conditions only make you shudder. If you look closely at the facts behind the story, there are many things that can be noticed and they are chilling. But only if you look closely enough.
Kirti Kulhari does her role with conviction. Neil Nitin Mukesh is quite the perfect “Chief”, while everyone else fits their parts. Tota Roy Chowdhury one-ups everyone, though. He is expressive and a blend of both good, evil and apathy, just like normal human beings. An honorable mention for Anupam Kher.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Indu Sarkar is a complex film comprising of two parts – the foreground and the background. While the story of Indu is inspiring, watch it for the backdrop – times where basic choices are being made for the people, policies are being imposed on them, there is heavy censorship on press, and a general sense of despair among the population. Terrifying, no?
Watch this fun interview with the cast and crew of Indu Sarkar right here!