Director Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar has been making headlines for the last few weeks. It finally released with much fanfare and struggle on July 28. Indu Sarkar – like the title suggests – tells the tale of Indu Sarkar (Kirti Kulhari), an orphan with a stutter that hinders her adoption.
It looks at the period between 1975 and 1977 during the Emergency that changed the lives of so many Indians, including Indu’s.
Despite rejection during her childhood by prospective parents and even as an adult by prospective grooms, Indu finds love and solace in Navin Sarkar (Tota Roy Chowdhury), a government employee who works closely with the Union Minister. Their marriage is a seemingly happy one when one day she is present at the Turkam Gate demolition and ends up rescuing two children. Indu brings them home and desperately tries to search for their parents.
It’s here that the director tries to bring in numerous elements of the Emergency period that we all know about – sterilization, the lack of rations, the civil rights issue, the underground activism, civilians being termed terrorists, unlawful arrests and so on.
Navin Sarkar represents the government while Indu Sarkar is seen as a common woman who’s forced to fight the government because of certain circumstances. Bhandarkar has made this a good versus evil fight and depicted Navin as representing evil and Indu as all that is good. And this perhaps is the biggest flaw in the film.
Kriti Kulhari delivers a standdout performance in this film and has an able supporting cast in Tota Roy Chowdhury. Neil Nitin Mukesh fills Sanjay Gandhi’s shoes quite easily and it’s commendable that they have got the look so perfect as well.
Unlike his earlier films like Page 3 or Fashion where the director has got a deep understanding of that section of society and delves into their minds, Indu Sarkar is very superficial. It’s less about the Emergency and the real, raw emotions of the common people and issues at that time. The film has ended up being more about Navin Sarkar and his inflated ego, his insecurity and his wife’s place in his life. And in this, it is Indu who stands triumphant fighting for the two orphaned children whom she wants to provide a home for.
Madhur Bhandarkar has tried to give us a period film that will connect with us emotionally because of Emergency. Unfortunately, Indu Sarkar is not a Page 3 or Fashion and is a run-of-the-mill story that could be set in any place at any time.