Monday, June 29, 2015

Kissa Kursi Ka (India, 1977)

This week we are observing 40th anniversary of the Emergency (India), which was imposed by Indira Gandhi government in 1975. There are only handful of films which talked about the black pages of India. One such film, which not only took a direct dig into the Emergency, but also made a satirical political film, Kissa Kursi Ka. Kissa means story (tale), Kursi means chair (Seat of power or throne). The film is directed my Amrit Nahata, who was a Congress MP then, later he went to Janata Party which was the torch bearer in opposing the Emergency under Jai Prakash Narayan.

As far as I know, political satire is a very rare genre, the one I had seen is a Tamil film by an comedian turned political commentator Cho Ramaswamy’ Mohammaed bin Thugluk, which was released in 1971, way before the Emergency.

As the name suggests, Kissa Kursi Ka is all about catching and keeping the power on ones hold. This takes the plot directly from Indira Gandhi, who was to hold the power to safeguard her PM position. Let me not go into the political events of 1975, but just talk about the film. 

**Spoilers Ahead**

The film is set in a fictional country call Jan Gan. Meera and her boyfriend Gopal on a chit-chat in a party strike an idea to make someone as politician and then make him\her the President of Jan Gan desh. After a brief search, they find Gangu, a dumb street vendor who is selling a medicine named sanjayveni. With all the misdoings of Meera, Gangu becomes the President. Gopal cautions Meera that Gangu might turn as monster, which eventually happens. Meera lose her grip on Gangaram (Gangu), who takes directions from Deshpal his secretary. Shabana Azmi is called Jantha (which denotes the public in Hindi), she is disabled to speak. Her visits to Gangaram are prevented by Deshpal. Ridiculous ideas are implemented by the government- Killing rats to prevent those eating grains. Mass execution of rats takes place. People are given incentives to kill rats. An unnecessary war is fought with the neighboring country called Anderinagar. At one point Deshpal sexually assaults and kills Janta. Terrified Gangaram finds it and asks what have you done? Deshpal replies “What I did to her was all what you did to the people of this country”. As every film, the villain Gangaram and Deshpal find their end.

The film is not short of songs. At given intervals the songs appear is various major Indian folk\classical styles- Odissi, Bangra, Bharathanatiyam, which lyrically represent the unfolding story.

After forty years, even now the dialogues will still hold good for the current politicians. The film was banned and its original tapes were burnt by none other than the second son of the Mrs. Gandhi, for which he was sentenced to one month prison post Emergency. This film can be put in the lines of religious satire Life of Brain and Kubrick political satire film Dr. Stranglove.

The full film is available in YouTube, taken from a Zee TV telecast.

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