A vain, vacuous (mis)adventure
S Viswanath, Jul 30 2017, 1:43 IST
Cast: Kirti Kulhari, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Anupam Kher, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Supriya Vinod, Sheeba Chaddha, Ankur Vikal and Zakir Hussain
Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
In Indu Sarkar, the infamous emergency is an excuse. A ploy to pull audiences to theatres to an unabashed potboiler that would otherwise been given short shrift. Cleverly titled, director Madhur Bhandarkar has sought to cash in on the curiosity it would evoke among expectant cinema goers.
Instead of probing and eclectic exploration of the infamous, turbulent period in Indian history, Bhandarkar uses emergency as peripheral subtext to conveniently spotlight on his eponymous heroine Indu Sarkar, orphan, and stuttering woman who becomes docile, introvert housewife of misogynist government staffer Naveen Sarkar, overseeing demolition drive.
How she is pitchforked to singularly take cudgels against the establishment imprisoned after unwittingly caught in the crossfire during a demolition drive which sees her bringing home two children, infuriating her husband, forms the film’s pivot. Of course, Bhandarkar peppers his pitiful pastiche with panoply of events of the time - from MISA (maintenance of internal security act), notorious, population control sterlisation drive, Turkman Gate demolitions, censuring of press freedom, et al.
Conveniently using his heroine as metaphor for stifled citizen’s voice, Bhandarkar shows how Indu, whose only goal in life is to be a good wife to her husband, is roused to raises in revolt repulsed by her husband’s selfish atitude of making the most of his position to further his career playing footsie with the establishment during the testing times, instead of voicing his protest.
While Bhandarkar scores in his telling of touching tale of woman’s singular fight, his Indu Sarkar is woeful let down if one expected him to touch on the contentious subject with deftness and subtlety it rightfully deserves. Partisan in approach, peppering his poor script with choicest dialogues in his caricature of Sanjay Gandhi, Bhandarkar renders Indu Sarkar half-hearted fare than rivetting cinema on a subject that roused country’s collective conscience. The film, however, sees Kirti Kulhari and Tota Roy doing justice to their roles. The rest is left best unsaid.