Interview Hindi

Madhur Bhandarkar: Have I mentioned Sanjay Gandhi's name in the trailer?

The Indu Sarkar director hits back at Jyotiraditya Scindia’s jibe calling it a joke; says the film is educational.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

From the moment the film was announced, it was natural that Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar would not have a smooth release. Set in the backdrop of the 1975 Emergency period, the film has Neil Nitin Mukesh playing who appears to be late Sanjay Gandhi, son of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who had played an active role in taking some controversial decisions.

Bhandarkar has been a vocal supporter of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The political affiliation raises questions over Indu Sarkar having the blessings of the BJP and whether it is using this as a platform to strike at old political rivals, the Congress party.

The trailer was launched recently and the visuals, in particularly of the character played by Neil bore an uncanny resemblance to Sanjay Gandhi.  It’s well-known the late son of former PM Indira Gandhi had played an influential role in orchestrating controversial decisions during the Emergency, most notably the infamous forced vasectomy.

Indu Sarkar trailer: Madhur Bhandarkar’s Emergency drama packs a solid punch

Expectedly, the film has run into controversy with Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia stating that the film looks sponsored by the government.

In an exclusive conversation with, director Madhur Bhandarkar has called Scindia’s comments a joke, and urged people to wait and watch. Surprisingly, Bhandarkar was mum when we asked whether he would get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Sanjay Gandhi’s wife and Union cabinet minister for women & child development, Maneka Gandhi and her politician son Varun.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Given the nature of the film, Indu Sarkar was bound to have political ramifications. Today, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia has said that your film is a sponsored one. Your reaction to it.

I think what he said is a big joke. Jyotiraditya Scindia is someone I have admired a lot as an opposition leader. I can’t believe he has made such a reckless statement without knowing the facts. I’m basically a filmmaker. I have made films on various topics/issues. I’m not some fly by night filmmaker who has popped out from nowhere and tried to make this film as a platform for a political party. You should respect a filmmaker’s genuinity. It’s not that earlier I was making some love stories, and suddenly decided to make this film. I’m known to make content driven cinema. Scindia’s comments are an absolute joke.  

Unfortunately, questions were going to be raised given your political affiliations.

(Breaking in) No, no. My political affiliations… Listen to me carefully. My films are watched by all political parties. I have friends in CPM (Communist Party of India, Marxist), I’m friends with the Left parties, I have friends in Congress also. You may like an individual in a party, so it is wrong cast aspersions (on my motive).  

If I had any political agenda than I would have made the film around the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, or made it before the 2014 elections. We had Assembly elections in five states early this year, I could have brought out the film three months back.   

As per my knowledge there are no elections coming soon. People should get out of their delusional world and appreciate the fact that somebody has made a film with the Emergency as a backdrop. I’m telling you 70% of the film is fictional, while 30% of the film is based on facts. We have researched, have been well documented and have been sourced from report of Shah Commission (sic).

Looking at the trailer though there is a fear that late Sanjay Gandhi has been demonised.

People should wait and watch the film first before reacting. I don’t want to say what the film is, what it’s not. Let my film first get certified, hope the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) is lenient to the film.

Since you’ve spoken of the CBFC, it expects filmmakers to get NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the person or their families on whom the film is based. Have you approached Maneka Gandhi and her son for such an NOC? Or will that not be required?

Did I mention in my trailer that Neil Nitin Mukesh is playing Sanjay Gandhi? You cannot presume on mere physical appearance.

No, but it’s set during the Emergency and we all know who were the people in power then that were calling the shots.

I haven’t mentioned anybody in the trailer. Let’s not put words (in my mouth). Lets wait for the movie to be first certified by CBFC and then release the film.

But if tomorrow CBFC tells you that the characters are inspired by Sanjay and Indira Gandhi won’t you be seeking an NOC from Maneka and Varun Gandhi?

I can’t comment on something which is very hypothetical now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. This is more an educational film. How many youth have an idea as to what happened during the Emergency?

Despite the controversial nature of the film, do you expect a smooth release or will there be more roadblocks?

I’m against banning of films. I had supported Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap during their fight to release Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Udta Punjab, respectively. I condemn the attack on Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I feel that all the film fraternity people will stand by me. Hope political affiliations will be downplayed. They should stand for freedom of expression.

Political affiliations have created a divide in the film industry too.  Do you fear that many from the industry may not come to your support?  

I’m always in my own world. I’m never part of any coteries. I have always made my films on my own. People should not be selective in their support. True democracy is when you stand by someone throughout. If you have no affiliations then you stand by everything. I won many awards during the earlier regime. I was in the same committee when Manish Tewari (Congress leader) was the information & broadcasting minister. You may like an individual in particular party, but that should not deter you from seeing a film.