Watch Indira Gandhi’s Emergency-era propaganda films here

On the 39th anniversary of the declaration of Emergency, a series of films that were made at the time, or related to it.

Thirty-nine years ago today, Indira Gandhi announced that India was in Emergency, a 21-month period where democratic and Constitutional structures were made subservient to the prime minister’s authority to rule by decree.

The Internet, the great domain of free speech and democracy, has a lot of fascinating material from that period. It seems the Films Division was more prolific during the Emergency than any other time in its existence.

1. “Our Prime Minister”

For instance, this Yash Choudhary-directed film from 1976. It begins with a shot and description of Number 1 Safdarjung Road, ”the modest residence of prime minister Indira Gandhi”, and goes on to relate any number of similar mistruths.

2. “We Have Promises to Keep”

We’ll let the official description speak for this one. “This film collects reactions of cross-section of people about changes brought about by the Emergency for their benefit. The film also includes an interview with the Prime Minister.“ [emphasis ours]

3. “Sorry, I Am Late“

A short film from 1975 which – in classic authoritarian fashion – teaches citizens the importance of punctuality.

4. “Our Indira“ 

Perhaps it was simply the sycophancy of the times. Or perhaps Gandhi had subvertedsome institutions before she declared Emergency. This, from 1973, could not be more cringe-worthy.

5. “This is HMT Time”

Of course propaganda about politicians needs to be supplemented by homilies about all the wonderful things that happen under their rule. And so we have this gem, from 1977, which looks at how amazing the Indian watchmaker HMT is.
[The youtube videos could be watched from the link posted in this post]

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