Pune: A promotional event for the film Indu Sarkar had to be cancelled in Pune on Saturday after local Congress workers barged into the hotel in which the filmmakers were staying and protested against the movie which is set in the backdrop of the Emergency and has characters inspired by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi. After constant disruptions, the film's director Madhur Bhandarkar said it was "baffling to see self-proclaimed custodians of freedom of expression creating huge ruckus."
- Congress activists barged into hotel where event was to be held in Pune
- Party protests Emergency-era film which they say defames Gandhi family
- Director denies, says double standards by 'custodians of free speech'
Mr Bhandarkar, 48, said the crew had been stranded inside a hotel room like hostages for three hours with the Congress workers protesting in the hotel lobby. "This was absolutely shocking... What is the problem if I make a film on Emergency?," Mr Bhandarkar told NDTV over the phone.
Earlier, posting photos of the protests, the director tweeted: "Congress workers hv barged in the Hotel lobby & created ruckus,me & team are stranded like hostages in hotel room. #pune activity cancelled, (sic)."
However, Congress's Pawan Khera said the party has "nothing to do" with these protests and questioned if the workers were even from the Congress. "The Congress party absolutely distances itself from these kinds of protests. We criticise it, we condemn it," he told NDTV.
Indu Sarkar, which will release on July 28, deals with the controversial state of Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975, a period of deep unrest which saw civil liberties being suspended across the country.
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam has demanded a special screening of the film - he said the party cannot allow its "beloved leaders" to be portrayed in "bad light." The director has refused; he is also fighting 14 cuts demanded by the Censor Board.
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) later suggested 12 cuts and two disclaimers in the film. Mr Bhandarkar had been asked to remove words like RSS and Akali from Indu Sarkar.
The film stars Supriya Vinod as former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Neil Nitin Mukesh plays Sanjay Gandhi.
(With inputs from IANS)