When Dimple Kapadia took on Jay Prakash Narayan

The year was 1975. The month was January or February. Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. A very unpopular one. JP (the socialist stalwart Jayprakash Narayan) was going to address an opposition rally at the Ram Leela Ground in Delhi. The Intelligence Bureau briefed the Prime Minister.

“Lakhs of people will attend the rally,” Intelligence reports warned. Possibly half a million! Indira Gandhi developed cold feet. Her kursi was in danger. Threatened by an old man with damaged kidneys. JP called Indira Gandhi “Indu“. After all JP was Nehru’s friend. Indira was a little girl in a frock when JP visited the Anand Bhawan in Allahabad. Indira Gandhi called a meeting of her advisers. It was a cold winter morning. A thick fog enveloped Delhi. The entire “Kitchen Cabinet” was in attendance. Shivering in the cold. But the Iron Lady was sweating! She asked her advisers how to make JP’s rally a flop show.  Nobody had an answer. JP was at the peak of his popularity. He was coming from Bihar to sound the bugle of the Total Revolution, “Sampoorna  Kranti“. Some years ago, JP turned down Indira Gandhi’s offer to make him the President of India ! Instead, he preferred to work with the poor at a remote, Naxal affected village Mushari in Muzaffapur. The man who could forsake comforts of a 350-room Rashtrapati Bhawan and its fragrant Mughal Garden for a hard life in a poor Bihar village was no ordinary mortal. Indira Gandhi was used to deal with pygmies. Now, she was dealing with a giant.

Tension was palpable and tea was getting cold when an adviser opened his mouth. “Madam Prime Minister, our only hope is Dimple Kapadia.” Dimple! Who is she?” Indira Gandhi frowned. The adviser replied: She has acted in the Bollywood blockbuster Bobby. If we show Bobby on Doordarshan, Delhiwallas will stay indoors. Nobody will go to the JP rally. Indira Gandhi’s face lit up.  Her adviser was a genius, she said to herself. Then she asked her secretary to get the Information & Broadcasting Minister on the telephone line. The I&B Minister, still half asleep, was ordered by the Prime Minister to show Bobby on Doordarshan on the day JP addressed the rally.

Doordarshan telecast Bobby. But neither Dimple Kapadia’s sultry look nor Rishi Kapoor’s chocolate boy look could make the JP rally a damp squib. Even the superhit number “Jhooth Bole, Kawwa Kate” was drowned in the Sampoorna Kranti slogans that rent the Delhi air. Indira Gandhi sank into depression. In June, 1975 she declared the Emergency.

And the rest is history.

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