Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar has received mixed reviews from critics, which was expected due to the political nature of the film. The film has scored 2.3 stars from the 10 reviews that we have compiled so far.
Indu Sarkar Review by Bollywood Hungama
Anil Pandey and Madhur Bhandarkar’s story packs in too much in the film and at times one loses track of the ongoings. There are references to Jaiprakash and a sequence about RSS members’ arrests but it doesn’t add much to the story. Screenplay (Anil Pandey, Madhur Bhandarkar) should have been crisper and also braver for a better impact. Sanjay Chhel’s dialogues are sharp and the poems mouthed by Indu are well worded.
Indu Sarkar Review by Shubhra Gupta on Indian Express
A better film could have unpacked the horrors better. Indu Sarkar doesn’t break fresh ground, even as it does bring alive some of the most disturbing aspects of the time. And we relive it, even as we cringe at the heavy melodrama, and the over-simplification of many of the issues the film raises.
Indu Sarkar Review by Saibal Chatterjee on NDTVMovies
Bollywood has never been great with political cinema. Even by those lax standards, Indu Sarkar is the pits. It is high on dramatic flourish, low on impact. So insipid is the 139-minute film, it leaves you wondering why on earth it has seen the light of day unless you deign to consider the political purpose that it serves in the current political scenario. It’s hard to find a purely cinematic reason for its existence.
Indu Sarkar Review by Nihit Bhave on The Times Of India
Indu Sarkar is at its best when it focuses on its protagonist’s emotional struggles and dilemmas, leaving the politics behind. Indu and Navin’s story by itself is far more palatable than the elaborate political schemes surrounding them. Kirti Kulhari shoulders the responsibility of the central role with a lot of earnestness and keeps you interested. Tota Roy Chowdhury makes for a good foil to Indu.
Review by Sweta Kaushal on Hindustan Times
Despite having gathered a group of critically appreciated actors, Madhur Bhandarkar fails to make the best use of them. Neil Nitin Mukesh is one of the most wasted talents in the movie. He has given some of his best performances as a mean, high-on-power person but his act as “chief” in Indu Sarkar appears too superficial. Anupam Kher and Kriti Kulhari take the lead in acting department and stay true to their characters for most of the part. The supporting casts including Sheeba Chaddha, Ankur Vikal and Zakir Hussain, among others appear genuine in their roles.
Review by Ankita Chaurasia on Bollywood Life
Indu Sarkar is an account of, what was touted in the film to be, India’s second freedom struggle. After a steady dose of pre-independence stories, it is indeed refreshing to see the struggles that plagued a recently free India. Madhur Bhandarkar is back to doing what he does best – sketch immensely powerful female characters. If you have a taste for political dramas, Indu Sarkar will surely engage you. But even if you are not a fan of the genre, you must watch it for Kirti’s stupendous performance, if nothing else.
Review by Manisha Lakhe on Nowrunning
The Intelligence Bureau monitoring rebels, the police atrocities on citizens is done so badly, you wonder if the director is a newbie. It is very obvious that the research was superfluous and the the film was made in order to earn brownie points with the current government. Just creating a documentary of the evil that was emergency would have been a thousand times more powerful than this disappointing drama.
Review by Pallabi Dey Purkayastha on Deccan Chronicle
Neil Nitin Mukesh, as the cold-hearted political tyrant, fits right in and brownie points for his mannerisms. The flip of the hair, those aptly timed hand gestures, the deathly stares; it all heightens the drama, making you simmer with anger. Purpose served! If you are not a hyper-nationalist or an ardent fan of pressure groups, if you cannot tolerate apartheid in the name of politics, regardless of which party you support, this Madhur Bhandarkar scrapbook straight from the 1970s is for you.
Review by Ananya Bhattacharya on India Today
It doesn’t take long for the viewer to lose interest in Indu Sarkar. If the person making the film and the ones acting in it are so lazily doing their jobs, there’s not much you can expect from the viewer, right? Indu Sarkar is filled to the brim with dialogues that are straight out of a 70s’ potboiler, flat characters that are straight out of a bad 70s’ potboiler, and a story that is anything but befitting of India’s darkest hour post Independence. Madhur Bhandarkar makes his Indu Sarkar less tolerable than even the Indu Sarkar of 1975-77, probably. What Bhandarkar promised was a ‘gritty Emergency drama’. Sadly, it can only serve as a jar of Valium for the sleep-deprived. We need a lot more films on the Emergency. But not at the cost of content and execution, please.
Review by Sreehari Nair on Rediff
Indu Sarkar opens with the declaration of Emergency but its true beginning-point is a disclaimer proclaiming it as a work of fiction bearing nothing more than a chance resemblance to people, places, and events. I found that disclaimer to be less of a mandatory insert and more an apology for the film’s artlessness.
Review by Rajeev Masand on News18
To be honest, there is very little in this film that anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Indian history might be unfamiliar with. From the mass sterilization campaign implemented at the time, to the Turkman Gate massacre, down to the muzzling of the press, everything has been extensively documented over the years. Which is not to say that Bhandarkar shouldn’t make a film about the Emergency. The problem is, the film’s uneven tone makes it hard to take any of it too seriously. The caricaturish portrayal of key figures, especially Neil Nitin Mukesh’s all-out-villain approach to playing Sanjay Gandhi makes this feel like an old-school Bollywood movie instead of a sharp political drama. Doesn’t help that he’s made to deliver punchlines instead of dialogue. “Sarkaren challenge se nahin, chabuk se chalti hain.” Cringe.
Review by Mayank Shekhar on Mid-Day India
While high on obvious propaganda, low on aesthetics, where Bhandarkar does well is to show the deep disdain the Indian state has for activists, its excessive censorship, the complete lack of an opposition in politics, and a relentless public campaign through events to suggest all’s well, when it’s really not. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? We’ve clearly been through this before. Could we go through it again? Who knows? Ha, going through this movie is but another matter, my friend.
Review by Kunal Guha on Mumbai Mirror
That Bhandarkar excels in the single-minded ‘reality bites’ genre of cinema but has failed to impress with rom-coms (Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji) or crime thrillers (Aan: Men at Work), made this political drama a rather risky proposition. Apart from his myopic and shallow take on the blotch in Indian history when the world’s largest democracy resembled a dictatorship, his propaganda treatment to the material is objectionable. But what is more deplorable is his audacity to underestimate the audiences’ intellect. To paint a country’s leader by decisions taken is one thing, but to go ahead and draw a parallel with Hitler leaves little to the imagination.
Indu Sarkar Review by Indiaglitz
The second half of the film goes on a dragging mode with repetitive scenes and less detailing of political happenings related to Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. There should have been more detailing in these parts of the film. Sadly, the censorship and political issues dilute the intensity of the film due to which the movie ends up being an above average type of film. If only this ace director would have got his free hand, the impact of ‘Indu Sarkar’ would have been mind-blowing. Tota Roy Chowdhury is good in some scenes while in others overacts.
Review by Vishal Verma on Glamsham
INDU SARKAR has its share of highs. The title that serves as a perfect metaphor, Kirti Kulhari performs amazingly as Indu. Neil Nitin Mukesh comes strong as the dominant Sanjay Gandhi and his styling of the late controversial leader is pitched perfect.
Review by Subhash K Jha on Bollyspice
Indu Sarkar is not to be missed for Kirti’s superlative performance. And also because it serves as ravishing reminder of the mistakes from the past that threaten to impinge on the present.
Review by IANS on Zeenews
The film, mounted as a realistic drama, offers the grit and effervescence of the period. The sepia tone frames and the crabby background score all add to the aura. The qawalli, though unwarranted, breaks the momentum of the seriousness of the subject, thus making you realise that this is only fiction. Kirti Kulhari is a natural performer and as the eponymous character Indu, she is excellent. She effortlessly renders her character of a stammering young lady who is soft at heart yet hard during tough moments.
Review by Meeta on Wogma
Thankfully, dialogue does interrupt the long pauses. But the relief is only brief because the lines are either too filmy, repetitive or are to spoon-feed the audience. For instance, showing an elderly man and a little boy being taken in for sterilization is not enough, their ages are actually called out. Or the comparison of a goddess with the reigning lady prime minister in a poem is actually explained. In that sense, the writers are smart. But they don’t want to risk it going unnoticed thus making their effort counter-productive. As for the repetition, I never understand it when films show the planning of an event and its execution in great detail or when it shows the event and then a character recall the entire thing. Just in case you are wondering, Indu Sarkar is guilty of both.
Review by Joginder Tuteja on Movietalkies
The film too is meaty especially 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 excited enough to see some of the key chapters of the times gone by.
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