I have questions and this film has no answers.
When you walk into a film boasting of Anupam Kher and Akshaye Khanna in leading roles, and based on the life and tenure of one of India’s most controversial politicians and Prime Ministers, you want it to be a rollercoaster ride and not a dull and dead version of what actually was.
I have been a student of Political Science, with a keen interest in the developments of Indian politics and while the film does touch upon reality, it’s in bits and pieces, and when put together, none of it actually makes any sense. While the film was supposed to expose the behind the scenes of the day to day functioning of the Indian National Congress and how at the hands of Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh had become a mere puppet Prime Minister, it does nothing even close. Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s film touches just the exterior of Indian politics between 2004 and 2014, but never delves deeper into the main action.
The entire point of this film is to act like a caricature. The events in the film are a caricature to the real ones, the planning between Sonia Gandhi and her troop is almost Dhoom level, they show that running a country is as effortless as Esha Gupta fooling people into watching her dance while John Abraham was a looting a casino, and to top it all, instead of playing Dr Manmohan Singh, Anupam Kher makes fun of him. Singh is a man of great stature. Politically, at the hands of a family, he was made victim but economically, the changes and development he brought to India were noteworthy. Kher’s rendition is of the former and while that’s okay, you don’t show such a man in such power as the the joker of the circus. Of course, at the hands of Sonia Gandhi, Singh was a puppet Prime Minister, but I wanted to see more. I wanted to see what went in the head of this man, to whom no one listens in the Lok Sabha, what was his process of thought, why did he assume office for a second time and even why, in 2004, among such chaos did Sonia Gandhi not assume office as the Prime Minister of India. I know the reasons, just didn’t get to witness them in the film. And what was that cringeworthy background score! I thought I was in a cartoon film based in the 90s.
Coming back to Kher’s performance, there is no honesty in it. A wonderful actor who has given us great performances over the years is reduced to having absolutely no creative space. It felt as if just like Sonia Gandhi held the strings to Singh’s tenure, someone (possibly Vijay Ratnakar Gutte) holds the strings to Kher’s performance. The hand movement is shabby, the voice irritating. Another great performer brought down to misery is Akshaye Khanna, who plays Sanjay Baru, the PM’s media adviser and is constantly talking into the camera. This is a film, you don’t talk to the audience, you are supposed to interact with them, make them a part of the narrative and let them have a perspective and not assume one for them. Like Kher, even Khanna is an actor as fine, but at the hands of a badly written script and sloppy direction, he fails to perform.
You’re probably wondering what the Sardar kid from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (which also starred Anupam Kher) is doing in the thumbnail. Well, that is exactly the character graph Gutte and his team of writers give Dr Singh.
Both the kid and Singh (the character) seem to be as pointless and jobless in life as nothing is meant for them, they’re living a life of moksha.
In all this mess, the only thing that the film gets right, is perhaps the propaganda. With a release date just months before the general elections, The Accidental Prime Minister might just work in favour of the current ruling party. However, what it won’t work as, is as an agent against the Indian National Congress in the coming elections because not much has been said through the film.
All in all, it’s just the start of the year, and the worst is already here.
If I had to rate the film, If I was normal cinema going audience, I would’ve walked out of The Accidental Prime Minister in less than 15 minutes.
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