When Congress tried to burn all copies of a movie satirising Emergency. Watch what upset them

It is ironic that for a party which takes credit for India’s independence, cares too little for freedom of India’s citizens, especially when it comes to freedom of expression. We had earlier exposed Congress’ hypocrisy when it comes to freedom of expression. On the 43rd anniversary of Indira Gandhi imposing Emergency, we would like to remind you of the time when Congress, in all its foolish glory, tried to burn all copies of a movie, ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’, which satirised Emergency.

Power clouding his head, Sanjay Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi, took it upon himself to silence everything that spoke against his mother’s regime. In 1977, the political satire ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ produced by former Congress MP Amrit Nahata, who left Congerss after the Emergency, was not only banned, the CBFC even refused certification. Following this, Nahata, moved Supreme Court where the SC judges wanted to see the film before deciding the petition. All the prints were brought from Mumbai to Delhi, taken to Maruti factory in Gurugram and burnt.

Ironically, the film had spoofed Sanjay Gandhi’s auto-manufacturing plans and Congress supporters. Maruti Ltd was a company floated by Sanjay Gandhi in 1971 to manufacture cars in India, and was clouded with corruption, bending rules, pulling strings and extortion.

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The plot of the film revolved around a corrupt politician, Gangaram, who tried to woo ‘janta’ – a mute and helpless lady played by Shabana Azmi. Azmi’s character symbolised the silent majority, quite similar to R K Laxman’s political satire cartoons where the common man is usually a mute spectator.

The movie was not just about Emergency but was a satire on the way India was being governed. It had many scenes that would rub the Congress party the wrong way. It demonstrated the malpractices and corruption that happened in the name of social welfare, which clearly would not have gone down well with Congress – the party that had ruled the country uninterrupted since independence at that time.

For example, look at the following scene that shows how a government scheme supposed to help the common man was marred by corruption and the hardworking common man got a raw deal:

But what might have hurt the party leaders even more were scenes that directly took potshots the way Congress created its ecosystem. Say, the following video clip that satirises Padma Awards:

A wealthy businessman cornering bulk of nation’s resources is being awarded as a socialist philanthropist (Suit-boot ki Sarkar anyone?) and a socialite close to the party leaders is being awarded as a social worker working for women empowerment (ah, you can think of many such ‘intellectuals’). And the most pinching part – the President is awarding himself the highest award (no prizes for guessing who!).

Sanjay Gandhi, for his part, was held guilty for burning prints, and as Supreme Court denied him bail, he spent a month in Tihar Jail. The film was finally released in 1978, after Congress lost the elections. Nahata ended his film career and never made any other film after this.

Sanjay Gandhi was held guilty for burning prints of the film ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’

Not much has changed when it comes to Congress and their inability to take criticism on celluloid. When Madhur Bhandarkar’s film Indu Sarkar, which was fictionalised version of some events during the Emergency was released, many Congress goons took to streets and disrupted screening in some theatres.


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