Filmamker Madhur Bhandarkar seems to be taking calculated risk to show a fabricated tale in the realistic setting of the state of Emergency instead of telling real stories. Madhur Bhandarkar even breaks with his typical formula of attacking and “exposing” a specific industry and roots Indu’s (Kirti Kulhari) fictitious story in the realistic setting of the state of Emergency that the country was shrouded in from 1975 to 1977.
There are a couple of scenes in the first half of Indu Sarkar where Neil Nitin Mukesh announces loud and clear that he is THE chief, especially in the times of emergency. That pretty much sets the stage for how Madhur Bhandarkar would be narrating the tale of Indu Sarkar which is told from the eyes of Kirti Kulhari but tells the story of how emergency was scripted by the character enacted by Neil. As long as the movie sticks to this conflict, it stays on to be mainly captivating and that guarantees that you look wide eyed at the proceedings.
As per plot, Indu’s husband, a government employee, believes in using the state of Emergency to advance his career, but a moral and ideological discrepancy sets her on an own path.
Main character Indu, an introverted orphan who stammers, finds a mate in Navin Sarkar (Tota Roy Chowdhury), who is the first person to look beyond her speech impairment and ask her what she wants from life. She only finds the answer to his question after their wedding, when she sees him in cahoots with the ministers who bend the rules to benefit from the Emergency. The moral conundrum pushes her into a life of rebellion and forces her to part with her hard-earned normalcy.
But, while this is the factor that keeps you interested in the proceedings as the era of national emergency is narrated in front of a viewers which has been largely uninformed of what truly inspired four decades ago, it is the personal life of Indu that slows the movie down, particularly in the first half.
Madhur Bhandarkar has to offer in the second half since it completely changes the graph of the movie. From being an emotional drama centered on Kirti and her husband (Tota Roy Chowdhury), the movie takes a thrilling turn. Stepping in of Anupam Kher on the scene, the plan that is hatched in order to reach out to the international process, the conspiracy that follows, the frustration that looms large on Neil Nitin Mukesh - each of this makes for an interesting watch.
The climax appears a bit sudden though and while the court proceedings are kept to the point, one would have anticipated a bit more drama in there. Perhaps the filmmaker wanted to keep it all genuine instead of making it come across as overtly filmy.
Neil Nitin Mukesh is tremendous in the movie. He is simply excellent, right from mannerisms to body language to expressions - he is brilliant in each of his five scenes. Kirti Kulhari shoulders the responsibility of the central role with a lot of earnestness and keeps you interested. Tota Roy reminds one of the kind of role that Rishi Kapoor had in Damini and he is good with his act. Anupam Kher is as natural and consistent. Zakir Hussain (as the senior cop) is threatening in his act. The actor essaying the senior minister is very good.
The movie is noteworthy particularly when it gets into the details of the emergency. Though one does get a feeling that at places Madhur Bhandarkar has held himself a bit from going all the way in terms of exposing the depth of the emergency era, you are still keen enough to see some of the key chapters of the times gone by.
In general, film Indu Sarkar is worthy to watch once for Neil Nitin Mukesh and Kirti Kulhari’s inspiring acts.