31 July 2017

'Indu Sarkar' - Review

There are two types of historical movies:
1. Non-fictional
2. Fictional
A non-fictional historical movie tells the story of actual historical events and actual historical persons. Example: Richard Attenborough's Gandhi tells the story of Gandhiji's life and India's freedom struggle. A fictional historical movie tells the fictional story of fictional characters against the backdrop of historical events. Example: Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace (made into several movie versions) tells the story of three characters against the backdrop of Napoleon's invasion of Russia. Non-fictional historical movies focus on the decisions and actions of rulers and leaders. Fictional historical movies focus on the lives of ordinary people and how they are impacted by historical events.

These were the two models in front of Madhur Bhandarkar when he decided to make a movie on the Emergency (1975–77). Which one did he choose? Strangely, both. His Indu Sarkar is a hybrid movie: 50% non-fiction and 50% fiction. The non-fictional part shows Sanjay Gandhi and his gang of thugs implementing the Emergency. The fictional part tells the story of a girl called Indu Sarkar (?!) whose life is impacted by the Emergency.

Madhur Bhandarkar has made two blunders here. Firstly, he should have junked the non-fictional part and kept the movie completely fictional. Secondly, the Emergency was a complex event with many different features:
1) Forced sterilisation campaign
2) Demolition of slums
3) Imprisonment of political workers
4) Censorship of press
5) Underground resistance movement
To give a complete picture of the Emergency, a movie about it must show all these different developments. But this is impossible if you tell the story of just one character – because it is impossible for one person to experience all these different developments. The solution is to have several different characters, with each character experiencing one of these different developments, and to tell the story of each of those characters. And together, those several different stories would make up the movie.

Madhur Bhandarkar is a good director who has made good movies like Chandni Bar and Page 3. He has missed a golden opportunity to make a powerful movie about the darkest chapter in post-1947 India's history . . .

1 comment:

GST Course said...

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