Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s The Accidental Prime Minister is a far cry from both Manmohan Singh’s life and politics.
Now that Anupam Kher-starrer The Accidental Prime Minister is out, any fear of the movie affecting the Congress’ image ahead of 2019 elections has been put to rest.
Vijay Ratnakar Gutte-directed The Accidental Prime Minister is a far cry from both Manmohan Singh’s life and politics.
The movie, based on the book by the same name by Sanjaya Baru who was Manmohan Singh’s media adviser in the UPA-1 government, begins with the confusion over the PM’s post in the wake of the alliance’s electoral win in 2004.
A Sonia Gandhi with a heavy accent, played by Suzanne Bernert, announces in Hindi that she will not take the PM’s office. Don’t blame yourself if you cringe at this and think this is possibly worse than the Englishmen saying ‘teen guna lagaan lagegi’ in Lagaan.
At this point, we are introduced to Manmohan Singh, played by Anupam Kher, her chosen man for the office.
Clad in a starched white kurta with a blue turban, Kher’s Manmohan act is great only in the makeup department. His robot-like walk and clenched teeth speeches make you wonder if this portrayal is meant to be comical or sarcastic. Kher’s political inclinations off screen only make this more confounding.
The movie shows him as an honest politician whose integrity is untouched by the dirty political game, but it fails to recognise his intelligence and foresight.
The movie is less about Manmohan Singh and more about Sanjaya Baru as his media adviser, played by Akshaye Khanna. The film sticks to the so-called turf war between the Gandhi family and Singh.
Karl Dunne’s screenplay never highlights the political tension, instead reduces it to juvenile dialogues like ‘victim of family drama’ and ‘prime minister ko kya kaam karna hoga ye NSA tai karegi’. Filmmaking is all about being subtle, but the makers of The Accidental Prime Minister have clearly never heard about it. They are so invested in Congress bashing that they reduced the movie to a farce. Don’t expect any Chanakya moments in this film, which are otherwise a part-and-parcel of politics in the Capital.
The only character who is granted some political shrewdness in the entire script is Ahmed Patel, played by Vipin Sharma. Patel is shown as Gandhi’s voice in the PMO. He is a pleasure to watch as he is the only character who gets to speak a few snarky lines.
Besides the one-sided bashing of the Gandhi family, the film does manage to show Singh’s struggle with the nuclear deal with a generous sprinkling of Left’s opposition to it. It also manages to show the numerous press conferences Singh held during his tenure, a rare feature in present times.
In the only standout scene in the movie, the camera follows Kher walking down a long corridor to the PM’s office on his first day after taking charge. During that walk, he remembers his previous achievements as chief economic adviser, finance minister and RBI Governor. The rest of the movie is a patchwork of badly-constructed CGI rooms and fade-to-black transitions.
The Veer Zara-like music playing in the background does nothing to add to final scenes where Singh and Baru part ways.
Akshaye Khanna tries hard to give Baru some depth, but the director fails him.
In the film, Baru’s publisher admits that a pre-election launch was specifically chosen to boost sales. One wonders if the producers of this film applied a similar logic for its release just three months before elections.
But if Anupam Kher calls this movie his life’s “best performance”, one can only worry about the future of Indian cinema.