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40 years of emergency: 4 Indian movies that suffered during the period

Rakesh Jha 25 Jun 2015, 10:51:35 AM IST
Rakesh Jha

40 years ago on this very day, the then prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi imposed emergency after honourable Supreme Court did not allow her to take part in parliament proceedings despite being an MP.

Mrs. Gandhi took the drastic step, her government passed an ordinance stating the state is in danger, by a single stroke of the president's pen, she took control of the entire country. India was turned into a dictatorial state from world's largest democracy.  It was unarguably the darkest chapter in modern Indian History.

Apart from suspension of fundamental rights, extreme press censorship, the forcible sterilisation programme that was done under the garb of family planning, mass detainment of political agitators, the Indira Gandhi regime also wielded control on film industry, the government unnecessarily meddled in the affairs of censor board.

Here is the list of four films that faced the wrath of emergency:

1) Sholay: Even India's magnum opus Sholay suffered due to emergency. The film's release coincided with its declaration. In the last scene of the movie we see, Thakur BaLdev Singh is about to kill Gabbar, the police arrive and reminds him as a former police officer he should respect law should not kill Gabbar. After a moment's hesitation, Thakur hands over Gabber.  But this was not what director Ramesh Sippy had wanted. In the original print he showed the protagonist Thakur killing antagonist Gabbar as a poetic justice for latter's crime. But to his dismay the censor board demanded a change in the climax in the interests of the rule of law as it was worried that depicting a former police officer as a vigilante would be dangerous at the time of the Emergency.

2) Aandhi: This Sanjeev Kumar- Suchitra Sen starrer was banned during national emergency after it was alleged that the film was based on Indira Gandhi's life and her relationship with her estranged husband. The ban further boosted the popularity of the film. However after humiliating defeat of Congress in 1977, Janata party Government cleared it and had it premiered on the state-run television channel.  

3) Kissa Kursi Ka: A political satire that was banned by the Congress government for lampooning the Emergency. The film made a mockery of Sanjay Gandhi auto-manufacturing plans (later established as Maruti Udyog in 1981), the existing stooge culture in the party with Indira Gandhi's private secretary R.K. Dhawan, and Rukhsana Sultana heavily influencing her decision . The film was submitted to the Censor Board for certification on in April 1975. The master prints and all copies was lifted from the Censor Board office and burned by Sanjay Gandhi supporters. The movie was later remade with a different cast.

4) Nasbandi: This 1978 film is a political spoof that portrayed the excesses of emergency esp. the compulsory sterilization programme, each of the characters is shown trying to find sterilization cases . The film directed by I. S. Johar starred duplicates of all popular heroes of the time. The film was banned after its release for showing   the Indira Gandhi government in bad light. Later, however, the film achieved cult popularity via home video and satellite broadcast (the ban was lifted after the change of regime).

If all this was not enough, the government also banned the songs of Kishore Kumar from All India Radio and Doordarshan because the singing legend had refused to perform at an Indian National Congress rally in Mumbai.