Actress-turned-politician Hema Malini said she played a ‘small role’ during the Emergency, as opposition leaders hid from the police in packed cinema halls where her film, Sholay, was being screened. The actress-cum-MP recalled that the blockbuster was released on August 15, 1975, just days after the imposition of the Emergency on June 25. “The film was a huge crowd puller,” she told a gathering at a programme organised to mark the 42nd year of the Emergency yesterday.
Those were also the days when political leaders opposed to Indira Gandhi and the ruling regime were being arrested, she said. “So political leaders opposed to the Emergency used to take refuge in jam-packed theatres where Sholay was being screened,” she said.
The police, she added, could not look for them in the halls because of the “huge crowds” there. “So I too played a small role among those who opposed the Emergency,” the BJP MP from Mathura said. Describing the Emergency as “unfortunate”, she said the Congress government then was “cruel” to both politicians and the ordinary people.
“This is why the party is in such a poor state today,” she said.
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BJP national general secretary (Organisation) Ram Lal, who presided over the programme, said the Emergency was like a “dark night” which was countered by those who stood up to it. “That period was like the darkest chapter of democracy. People who broke jails and participated in movements against the Emergency for keeping democracy alive were great,” Lal said.