The Congress’ stiff criticism and opposition to his political drama Indu Sarkar, based on the 1975-77 Emergency, was a “knee-jerk reaction” and “an attempt to create unwarranted uproar”, filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar said in a conversation with The Sunday Guardian. The Congress had condemned the movie for its “flawed” portrayal of party veterans Indira Gandhi, her son Sanjay Gandhi, and other senior leaders. It had denounced the movie as an attempt to tarnish the leaders’ image. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had asked Bhandarkar for 12 cuts and two disclaimers, including removal of words like Akali and RSS, in the movie. However, a month after struggling to get the clearance certificate, Indu Sarkar was released on Friday, with minor edits and a U/A certificate.
Earlier, Congress spokesperson Jyotiraditya Scindia had called Indu Sarkar a “BJP-sponsored film” and had condemned the “false depictions” of Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi in the movie. Maharashtra Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam had even asked for a separate screening of the movie for Congress leaders, so that the party could ensure that their leaders were “not shown in a bad light”. “They (the Congress) should have waited for the movie to release. They formed a poor judgement of the movie based on a three-minute trailer. The controversy they spun around my movie was unexpected and totally uncalled for,” Bhandarkar told this reporter. Calling Sanjay Nirupam’s demand “unreasonable”, Bhandarkar had refused to screen his movie for any political party.
Meanwhile, a petition to seek a stay on the movie by Priya Singh Paul, the woman who claims to be the biological daughter of Sanjay Gandhi, was rejected by the Bombay High Court on Monday. Paul had filed the petition on the grounds of the movie trailer is “maligning the image of her father (allegedly Sanjay Gandhi)”. Bhandarkar, however, was unfazed, and attributed the plea’s rejection to Paul’s failure to prove that the film’s characters bore any resemblance to the Gandhis, or that the film maligned them in any way.
“I don’t have much of an idea about who Priya Singh Paul is, or what she has been up to. She had been trying to stall the release of the movie, but clearly she could not do so since her petition was rejected by the Bombay High Court,” Bhandarkar said. On being asked if there was any private word between him and the Congress leaders on the controversy, Bhandarkar denied any private interaction, saying that the public war of words should have been avoided.
The revising committee of the CBFC cleared Indu Sarkar on Wednesday. “Indu Sarkarhas been passed with just two cuts and one disclaimer, and I am happy with that,” Bhandarkar said.