June 25, 1975: On Emergency's 50th Anniversary, Remembering Films, Writers, Activists & Artists Who Came Under Fire

June 25, 1975: On Emergency's 50th Anniversary, Remembering Films, Writers, Activists & Artists Who Came Under Fire

The Emergency had its impact on the civil rights of the people as well as the artistic life and works of the artists. Scores of literary figures and political leaders of the then Opposition had opposed the Emergency tooth and nail. Artists were not far behind when it came to raising their voice against the Emergency.

Rahul MUpdated: Tuesday, June 25, 2024, 09:47 AM IST
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Kissaa Kursee Kaa faced the censorship wrath during the 21 month-long Emergency imposed in 1975 |

June 25, 2024 marks the 50th year of the Emergency, described by many as the darkest hour in independent India's history. The Emergency refers to the dark period when the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, imposed Emergency which took away the basic right of people to dissent and gave state the power to clamp down on any activity it deemed to be 'against the state.' It lasted for 21 months and ended in March, 1977.

The Emergency had its impact on the civil rights of the people as well as the artistic life and works of the artists.

Scores of literary figures and political leaders of the then Opposition had opposed the Emergency tooth and nail. Artists were not far behind when it came to raising their voice against the Emergency.

Films And Personalities Targetted During The Emergency

The foremost cultural activity that comes to the mind that was targetted during the Emergency are films. Gulzar's Aandhi and Amrit Nahata's Kissa Kursi Ka faced the worst of censorship during the Emergency.

Legendary playback singer Kishore Kumar's song were barred from playing on the All India Radio (AIR) after he refused to perform at a political function of the Congress party.

Filmmaker and veteran documentary maker Anand Patwardhan had to go underground as he was filming the JP movement, which was at the forefront of protests against the emergency.

Besides, many social workers and writers opposed the Emergency and some of them also had to face tough times due to their opposition against the emergency.

Several theater artists and playrights such as Utpal Dutt, Vijay Tendulkar from Maharashtra and writer Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena produced literary works during or after the Emergency that mocked the Emergency and raised important questions.

Hindi writers and literary personalities such as Murli Manohar Prasad Singh, poet Nagarjun and Girdhar Rathi were put behind the bars the very night Emergency was declared.

In Maharashtra, activists such as Durga Bhagwat and veteran socialist leader Mrinal Gore held protests while being underground. Durga Bhagwat, at a meeting of the Maharashtra Sahitya Sammelan, had slammed the Emergency in a fiery speech. Mrinal Gore's activism during the Emergency is remembered till date. Several artists such as Rameshwar Broota, Gulammohammed Sheikh and Gieve Patel used their paintings to express dissent against the Emergency.

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