Indira Gandhi birth anniversary: How India's 'Iron Lady' was portrayed in popular culture

Updated: 21 November, 2020 08:07 IST | Sherlin Rajan
  • Indira Gandhi

    Indira Gandhi was known as the Iron Lady of India. She was the first woman Prime Minister of India and a leader of the Indian National Congress. During her tenure as India's Prime Minister, she was praised and criticised for her policies. Indira Gandhi has been portrayed in films and other popular culture. Picture courtesy/ mid-day Archives

  • Indira Gandhi


    The 1975 Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen starrer was said to be based on the rift that happened between Gandhi and her husband Feroze. However, the film which was released during Gandhi’s tenure was banned shortly after it was screened in theatres. The Janata Party lifted the ban on the film, which was known for its hit song 'Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi'. Picture courtesy/ mid-day Archives

  • Indira Gandhi

    Kissa Kursi Ka

    This 1977 political satire was based on the policies implemented during the Emergency, with the characters embodying the political situations of the time. Picture courtesy/ mid-day Archives

  • Indira Gandhi


    This 1978 comedy takes a hilarious dig at the forced sterilisation drive for men during the 1975 Emergency. Picture courtesy/ mid-day Archives

  • Indira Gandhi

    The Great Indian Novel

    This series of novels by Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor presents the story of Mahabharata in a political context. Gandhi, in this novel, was portrayed as Duryodhan, the leader of the Kauravas, as her character was named Priya Duryodhani. Picture courtesy/ mid-day Archives

  • Indira Gandhi

    Midnight's Children

    A controversial novel that was banned during Gandhi’s government, this magical realism masterpiece won Salman Rushdie his Booker’s prize in 1981 and Booker of Bookers on the 25th and 40th anniversary of the prize. A part of the story where the protagonist loses his wife and he is caught with all other midnight’s children and imprisoned during the Emergency, ran into trouble with the Congress party as Gandhi was shown in poor light. The leader is not named in the story and is referred to as 'The Widow.' The book was made into a film by the same name that was directed by Deepa Mehta. Picture courtesy/ mid-day Archives

  • Indira Gandhi

    Indu Sarkar

    This controversial political thriller based on the 1975 Emergency heavily criticised the Gandhi government with the policies implemented at that time. A government employee’s selfish motives to use the situation to get ahead in his profession that led to his wife suffering as she was separated from her children forms the crux of the 2017 film.

  • Indira Gandhi

    PM Narendra Modi

    In the recently-released biopic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a character based on Indira Gandhi was played by Marathi actor Kishori Shahane Vij.


  • Indira Gandhi, Vir Das , Soha Ali Khan

    31st October

    The Vir Das-Soha Ali Khan starrer that released in 2016 focuses on the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

  • Indira Gandhi

    A Fine Balance

    This novel by Rohinton Mistry is based on four characters that are affected by incidents from the Emergency and the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Although the story criticised the leader, the author does not name her. She is referred to 'The Prime Minister' instead. Picture courtesy/ mid-day Archives

  • Ajay Devgn, Saurabh Shukla


    Now this might come as a surprise, but Indira Gandhi did make an appearance in this Ajay Devgn starrer. In the 2018 action drama, which is based on a true story on the Income Tax Department’s raids on government officials in the early 1980's, the actor playing the former Prime Minister is showed from behind her shoulders working in her office. She can also be heard talking on the phone to an influential official played by Saurabh Shukla, saying, "Iss officer Patnaik pe lagatar nazar rakhe aur mujhe constantly report karte rahein."

  • Indira Gandhi, Vidya Balan

    Indira: India's Most Powerful Prime Minister

    This detailed biography of Indira Gandhi by journalist Sagarika Ghose describes her life
    and times and her historic policies that adversely impacted people. The book is said to be made into a web series in which Vidya Balan has been signed to play the leader.

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About The Gallery

On the occasion of Indira Gandhi's 103rd birth anniversary, here's a look at how the leader and her policies were portrayed in popular culture.

First Published: 31 October, 2019 10:07 IST