INTERVIEW

Meet the actress who plays Indira Gandhi in Madhur Bhandarkar’s ‘Indu Sarkar’

Supriya Vinod steps into the shoes of the former prime minister yet again for Madhur Bhandarkar’s ‘Indu Sarkar’.

If the movie is about Indira Gandhi, is there anybody better than Supriya Vinod to play her?

Vinod has portrayed the former prime minister in the Jabbar Patel biopic Yashwantrao Chavan in 2014 and her father Ratnakar Matkari’s stage production Indira – The Play in 2015, which is set between the Emergency and her death in 1984. Vinod repeats the feat in Madhur Bhandarkar’s movie, which takes place during the Emergency and follows the journey of an idealistic poet (Kirti Kulhari). The cast of the July 21 release includes Neil Nitin Mukesh as Sanjay Gandhi and Anupam Kher and Tota Roy Chowdhury in pivotal roles. Vinod spoke to Scroll.in about the challenges in bringing a historical character to life and the differences in approaching the role on the stage and the screen.

How did you get associated with Indira Gandhi?
Ratnakar Matkari, my father, wrote a play for me around 10-12 years ago. While he was sure of my acting capacity, he didn’t know if I could look like her. He sent a couple of my photographs to the makeup artist Vikram Gaikwad, who used a wig on them and said I was perfect for the role.

While the play was looking for producers, Mr Gaikwad told Jabbar Patel that the role of Indira Gandhi in his film Yashwantrao Chavan would suit me. They were earlier looking for a North Indian actress because even though the film was in Marathi, Indira Gandhi’s dialogue was in Hindi. They eventually cast me. Because I was accepted in the role, it became easier to play the role in the play, which I have been doing for the past two years.

What is your role in ‘Indu Sarkar’?
Mr Gaikwad also suggested my name to Madhur Bhandarkar, who luckily knew about my role in the play. It is set against the backdrop of the Emergency. There are no controversial scenes. It is more or less in line with what people think of her.

Playing Indira Gandhi is an honour. However big or small the role is, you have to carry yourself properly. You have to speak the way she speaks. You have to work on everything – the body language, the facial expressions – because people have a certain image of her.

The look test for Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar.
The look test for Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar.

How challenging is it to play a historical figure?
You have to make people remember her. The likeness has to be there. She had a very famous walk, she used to walk very rapidly. The play takes place in her house, so it is not possible to walk around, but you have to maintain that image.

The audience only has an image of her as a politician. Very few people know about her as a person and how it reflected on her career. So there was a possibility of people denying the character. That was a balance I had to maintain.

You can put more of yourself into the role if it is an imaginary character because there isn’t a fixed boundary. In a historical character, there is not enough space for that to happen. Although you still have to find a way to relate to the person.

For instance, although my father is not as famous as Jawaharlal Nehru, he is famous. So being the daughter of a famous person, I know how it feels. Obviously, the scale is different, but it’s a link that helped while playing Indira Gandhi.

What are the differences between the stage and the screen?
It’s a difference of style. For the film, you can do more detailing. Even without lines, you can see a lot. While the play was set in one location in Indira Gandhi’s house, the film has three-dimensional sets and scenes at outdoor locations and during rallies. Naturally, that affects your performance.

Supriya Vinod in the play Indira.
Supriya Vinod in the play Indira.

What research did you undertake for the role?
I studied all her interviews and her photos. For example, the way she wears her watch constantly changes. In some photos, it is on her left hand, in others, it is on her right. Sometimes it’s inside out.

Sometimes, we cannot follow exactly what took place. Indira Gandhi’s sari was always prim and proper, but in those days they didn’t pin the pallu. If I didn’t do it, then it would fall down and would break the image of her. So you have to take the decision of what to follow and what not to follow.

There are other things we noticed – she used to blink her eyes rapidly while talking and bite her lips. Such things I could use in the film and not in the play. My voice has more of a bass tone while hers was shrill, but sometimes I think my original voice might be better suited to maintain an image of seriousness and strength.

How did playing the role affect your opinion of politics?
I had very little information about politics before I played the role. Now I have a better understanding of what’s being written about in newspapers. That has been the greatest change.

Earlier, when I was mugging up the lines for the play, I was scared if I took the name of a politician. But while rehearsing, I came to know who was who, and how their opinions were different about each other. Now if I do make a mistake, it won’t be a glaring one, because I know about politics.

Supriya Vinod in Yashwantrao Chavan (2014).
Supriya Vinod in Yashwantrao Chavan (2014).
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

There is no better setting for high stakes white collar crime than the Big Apple. And featuring a suited-up Paul Giamatti going head-to-head with the rich and ruthless Damien Lewis in New York, what’s not to like? Only two seasons young, this ShowTime original series promises a wolf-of-wall-street style showcase of power, corruption and untold riches. Billions is a great high-octane drama option if you want to keep the momentum going post GoT.

Watch Billions Now

2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

Watch Westworld Now

3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

Watch Big Little Lies Now

4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

Watch The Night Of Now

5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

Watch American Horror Story Now

6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

Watch Empire Now

7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

Watch Modern Family Now

8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

Watch The Deuce Now

9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

Available starting October

10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

Watch Rome Now

For your next obsession, Hotstar Premium has you covered with its wide collection of the most watched shows in the world. Apart from the ones we’ve recommended, Indian viewers can now easily watch other universally loved shows such as Silicon Valley and Prison Break, and movies including all titles from the Marvel and Disney universe. So take control of your life again post the Game of Thrones gloom and sign up for the Hotstar Premium membership here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.