By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | July 28, 2017
Rating: 1.5 / 5
The essence: One thought that after the debacle of Heroine and Calendar Girls, Madhur Bhandarkar would have tightened the screws on his flaws. But that is not the case as even the set designs leave a lot to be desired. It is only the powerful individual performances that make this unnecessary flick tolerable.
There’s a long disclaimer in the beginning, which claims that this is a work of fiction and nothing is intentional and if at all, it’s purely coincidental. But the characters are Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi. There’s also the dramatization of forceful nasbandhi (sterilization) on the men during the emergency period of 1975. Now, this is all purely coincidental, and any resemblance to any person living or dead, or any political situation during that time, is unintentional.
In the beginning is where Madhur Bhandarkar goes horribly wrong.
We are now ‘witness’ to the emergency period of 1975 as envisaged by Bhandarkar. He allows us a peek into the dark history of India through an orphan girl Indu (Kirti Kulhari). No one comes forward to adopt her as she stammers. Even in the marriage market, she is ridiculed until she chances upon Navin Sarkar (Tota Roy Chowdry), a government official, living in Delhi, with roots in Calcutta. Navin wants to make it big through the emergency, but Indu chances upon the horror of what exactly is happening during the emergency and steps out to become a crusader to make her voice count.
Through her journey, we are shown what might have happened during that time. Of course, there is reference to mummyji (Indira Gandhi, supposedly) and Chief (Sanjay Gandhi, supposedly).
One thought that after the debacle of Heroine and Calendar Girls, Bhandarkar would have tightened the screws on his flaws. But that is not the case as even the set designs leave a lot to be desired. It is only the powerful individual performances that make this unnecessary flick tolerable.
Indu first. Kriti Kulkari is a powerhouse performer. She takes time to find her footing, but as the film progresses so does her character. She metamorphoses from this shy, unassuming girl, into a fierce, ‘soft spoken’ crusader with noble intent, willing to bite the bullet. Full marks to Kirti. Every film from Rise of the Zombie to Jal to Sooper Se Ooper to Pink has seen this girl transform into the character designed for her.
Neil Nitin Mukesh is, in one word, terrific. He has perfected the sideways glance, a lopsided twitch to his mouth and a frozen gaze to terrify his ministers who call him ‘chief’. He has just a few scenes but Neil leaves an indelible mark on the film. A landmark performance in his career.
Sayajeet Sharma who plays Om Nath, an MP, is another actor who gives a powerhouse performance. One look at him and his mannerisms and it gives you the quality of a thick-skinned politician, a yes man. In one scene he is traumatized by ‘chief’ and asked to resign. He pleads for 15 days to set things right and in the very next scene, his assistant Navin, pleads for some time to set things right, but Om Nath has no mercy. He transfers the wrath he has received onto Navin, beautifully. Although these are two different scenes and may have been shot or separate occasions, the continuity is ‘brilliance personified’.
Tota Roy Chowdry as Navin Sarkar too is ‘in the zone’. A perfect performance of a man with a tough exterior and a soft heart!
There is a beautiful line which Indu tells the judge in the court, when the prosecuting lawyer says, “enough.” “Sara desh yehi keh raha hai, ENOUGH. Toh kya, sare desh ko jail mein daloge?” (The entire country is saying, ‘enough’. Will you jail the entire country?”)
This very well puts in perspective the political climate then and now, if at all Bhandarkar is trying to draw a parallel. But then, like the disclaimer says, “it’s purely coincidental.”
Producer: Bhandarkar Entertainment
Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
Star Cast: Kirti Kulhari, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Tota Roy Chowdry, Sayajeet Sharma