The saffron party certainly hopes the movie will evoke some of the anger the book did in 2014 and help push Modi over the finishing line in 2019.

Around the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi was speaking at a rally in Himachal Pradesh Thursday, declaring that he would not give up on his war against black money and corruption, the trailer of the film on Modi’s predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh was released online. The Accidental Prime Minister is based on a book of the same name by Sanjaya Baru, media adviser to the former PM.

Certainly, there’s nothing accidental about the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tweeted in appreciation of the film, also at the same time:

The bugle for the 2019 general elections was blown when the BJP lost three states recently to the Congress. But Prime Minister Modi is certainly making it clear that he’s not giving up even though his satraps in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh fell behind the finishing line.

“Unko chowkidar se dar lagne laga hai. Choron ki neend haram ho gayi hai ki chowkidaar sonay ko taiyyar nahin hai. Chowkidar choron ko chhodega nahin,” the PM said in Himachal, referring to himself in the third person as the chowkidar or ‘watchman’, a word he has been using since he came to power more than four years ago.

They have become afraid of the chowkidar. The robbers cannot sleep because they know that the chowkidar is not ready to give up his watch. They know that the chowkidar will not leave the thieves alone, the PM said.


Also read: Manmohan Singh is talking, making sense, and India is listening


Since timing is everything in politics, it is interesting that the film on Manmohan Singh is coming out now. Even when Sanjaya Baru wrote the book in 2014, he was allegedly persuaded by his publisher to advance the publishing – Baru had earlier decided to bring out the book after the 2014 elections – and bring it out before the polls. Nobody is going to read it afterwards, the publisher had allegedly told Baru.

She was right. In Delhi, Baru’s book was sold out within three days of release. With its juicy details of how Manmohan Singh, within days of winning the general election in 2009, was told by then Congress president Sonia Gandhi that she would decide the portfolios, to how Singh stuck to his guns on the nuclear deal with the US, to how files were allegedly removed regularly from the PMO and taken to 10, Janpath—Sonia Gandhi’s home—for her to see, Baru’s book had become a must-read.

Many felt at the time that the book contributed to the public perception of a weak man who must give way to someone strong who could wipe out corruption and stand up and take care of India.

Narendra Modi pitched himself to that need and won a landslide, the likes of which had never been seen since Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi won the country in the wake of the assassination of his mother. Today, barely four months before Modi is tested again, the film is hitting the stands.

The BJP certainly hopes the movie will evoke some of the same anger the book did in 2014 and help push Modi over the finishing line in 2019. Question is, is a film on an old man, long gone into the sunset, enough? Even if the storyline is as much about Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul and daughter Priyanka, one of whom is Modi’s leading opponent, will the PM be judged by his deeds in the last four years—the impact of demonetisation, a botched-up Goods and Services Tax (GST), agrarian distress, a combative foreign policycow politics—or by a caricature of a story that happened oh-so-long ago?

The film’s trailer starts with Akshaye Khanna, who plays Baru, saying that the Mahabharata is about two families, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, but in India today there is only one—the Gandhis.


Also read: Here’s what Manmohan Singh did right but never got credit for


 Note how this refrain is an exact parallel of Modi’s speeches. He is constantly invoking the “naamdaar”, Rahul Gandhi, the good-for-nothing dynast who inherits the kingdom without deserving it, and comparing him with himself, the son of a ‘chaiwallah’, who is destined to take India to newer heights.

In Modi’s lexicon, he is the chowkidar who will catch the thieves, the top Congress leadership, and save the nation. That is why he won’t give up. That is why he cannot give up.

The film will be released on January 11. Certainly, people in the fishpond called Delhi will go to see it—if only because they know some of the characters in it. It will be a laugh to see how Sonia Gandhi’s role is essayed by the German-born actress Suzanne Bernert, or Arjun Mathur as Rahul and Aahana Kumra as Priyanka.

Of course there’s Anupam Kher of the BJP playing Manmohan Singh.

Watch out, though. Singh, often caricatured as the silent or “goonga” PM because he refused to speak out against all the alleged corruption that was allegedly rampant during his tenure, is now asking why Modi is keeping quiet: why the PM hasn’t held a single press conference during his tenure and subjected himself to being questioned by the press, or why his half-hearted remarks about lynchings haven’t made the grade.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Why the Print is depicting this movie in a -ive prospect?? Is the Print trying to justify that the movie is a fiction & not the fact?? Can the Print justify with logic & evidence that during the tenure of Dr.Manmohan Singh as PM was not utilized as a pawn by the Gandhi clan for its own benefits?? Or the Print is trying to subvert the freedom of expression & speech since the movie exposes the Gandhi clan in bad light??

    • 1) Since dialogues in this movie are “written” by someone, they cannot be taken as Gospel truth
      2) since events shown are chosen by the Director of the film, they cannot be said to portray the COMPLETE picture
      3) since the sequence of events is chosen by the Editor and Director of the film, the decisions must have been made to enhance the efficacy of the film and not to faithfully portray the efficacy of each incident as it actually occurred
      4) since it is not based on the AUTOBIOGRAPHY of the main character of the film, it is reasonable to believe that some FICTITIOUS narration might have crept into it.

      Yet, A) the film takes ACTUAL names of living persons and not ascribes them fictional names
      B) this is an election year, and persons mentioned in the film are going to be involved in these elections
      C) this film therefore can be construed as an effort to malign the image of the people portrayed in it at this important time.

      All this put together can be viewed as an effort by some private people to subvert the democratic process of the country. Therefore Election Commission should order to postpone the film’s release till after the elections are over.

  2. This is laughable, but this is also the limit of propaganda by the BJP, and the limit of its DESPERATION to cling to power !! Apparently this movie is going to be released now to showcase a part of history which is already forgotten in public memory. But by suggestion it is going touch a raw nerve about the present.

    “Ek ke baad ek scam, ek ke baad ek scam … Aise mein Rahul kaise take over kar sakta hai?”

    This is what the actor Sonia Gandhi says in the movie. Ironically, this precisely is the situation today under Narendra Modi! Rafale scam, scam of appointments of dubious people, scam of killing of Muslims and Dalits, scam of rapes unheeded, cow scam, scam of govt spend on ads, scam of irresponsible foreign travels, scam of Kashmir being pushed to the precipice like never before and so on… (How can one ever forget the scam of bulldozing poor lives)

    Aise hi mein toh koi doosra take over karna chahiye!! Long live Indian democracy.

    • It seems either you are from Congress I or living in Mars when you make false statements like – this precisely is the situation today under Narendra Modi. Is Rafale a scam , do you have any proof of the same why don’t you put it forward in SC and help Prashant Bhushan revive the lost case. Which appointment of dubious people has been done against Constitutional rules ? Do you have any proof of conspiracy of any killing by politicians? Just by creating a Dalit Muslim story to build your votebanks will neither fetch you votes nor justify your falsehood. What is the scam of irresponsible foreign travels and government ad spend – have you gone bonkers – I dare you to file a case in SC and prove it. If not, then better shut your false accusations. Finally what is the issue of Kashmir being pushed to precipice, can you provide any comparison data to justify the same. Print please review the comments before publishing it to ensure no false accusations are put forward as comments by a political worker.

      • PK, I don’t know why you have chosen to remain anonymous! No, I don’t belong to any political party. Very briefly, regarding Rafale, I cannot find answer to a few commonsensical questions, that’s why I call it a scam:
        1) even if Anil Ambani was chosen by Dassault, why did Modi government NOT VETO THAT CHOICE knowing fully well the experience and financial reality of his firms
        2) if Anil Ambani is only 1 of 30 offset partners, then is who are the remaining 29 — is there an L&T or Mahindras or Tatas in it?
        3) If not, then WHO exactly is going to manufacture 126-36=90 Rafale aircrafts?
        4) Has the requirement of 126 been dropped? Has the threat perception lessened? Is there any letter of assurance from Pakistan and China? Can Mr Modi share those letters with the public?
        5) was there any paper from IAF to this effect, cancelling the requirement of 126, BEFORE MR MODI COMMITTED on 36 aircrafts and dropped HAL?
        6) who worked out this figure of 36? Was there any paper from IAF suggesting this number BEFORE MR MODI COMMITTED on this number?
        7) why did the then defence minister Manohar Parikar say, “this deal has been decided by Mr Modi but I support it”?
        8) should the IAF recommend to the defence minister what to do, and the defence minister recommend to the prime minister what to do, or SHOULD THE PRIME MINISTER DO anything and everything ACCORDING TO HIS WHIMS AND THEN THE DEFENCE MINISTER SHOULD ENDORSE IT AND IAF SHOULD ENDORSE IT???
        9) why was a price of nearly 1000 crores EXTRA paid per aircraft?

        PK, you ask THE PRINT to check what they publish; they will surely not publish this response if it becomes too long which is what it will, if I answer all your points. So I’ll only mention GAJENDRA CHAUHAN who was appointed the chairman of FTII. If you think Kashmir hasn’t been pushed to the precipice, ask anyone whom you trust: 1) has the situation worsened in last four odd years? 2) WAS IT EVER SO BAD IN LAST 70 YEARS AS IT IS TODAY???

        Don’t live on Mars, PK! And speak according to your conscience, not according to someone’s dictates.

  3. Inn cheezon se sarson nahin katega. Dr Singh is enjoying a moment when Indians are (re)discovering his deep understanding of economics, his understated decency and personal probity. Ordinary householders will check if their dining tables are groaning under the weight of more dishes than during his time. One feels no nostalgia for UPA II. The Congress deserved to be hit out of the park in 2014. Whether it deserves a similar fate in 2019 will depend entirely on how juicy the steak has been for the last five years.

  4. Ms Jyoti Malhotra, regularly comments on foreign affairs, has found time to comment on Accidental Prime Minister. There must be something in the movie that may strike a raw nerve. A strong votary of freedom of expression and a voice against intolerance, Ms Malhotra fails to say a single word against threat of congress party to stop screening of the film in congress ruled states. May be freedom of expression has its limits. It is time to understand virtue of intolerance is not unique to certain dispensation alone. It is pervasive and so should be its criticism.

  5. After 31 top defaulters flee, India seeks to shut the gates

    “Unko chowkidar se dar lagne laga hai. Choron ki neend haram ho gayi hai ki chowkidaar sonay ko taiyyar nahin hai. Chowkidar choron ko chhodega nahin

    Read more at:
    //economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/63311882.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

  6. This article is more of a rant with no serious analysis of issues involved. are events mentioned in the book false? if not than what is the problem in making a movie about it. People have every right to know about those people who undermined the decision making process, who gave 10 janpath the right to intervene when MMS is the PM? MMS had the authority and duty to take decisions on his own not 10 janpath. what makes 10 janpath think that it can puppeteer the indian electorate and play with the sanctity of the post of PM. this 10 janpath kind of material who thinks that it can get away with anything must be shamed and called out.
    the opinion that this movie might influence the elections is because the same intruding 10 janpath is still present on the national scene & there is genuine fear that history might repeat itself. unless you remove those people who shamelessly undermined the PM’s post and accept the wrong as wrong; this narrative will continue.

  7. Jyoti – How come you have put a false comments:
    “Of course there’s Anupam Kher of the BJP playing Manmohan Singh” – Anupam kher is not a BJP member, can you please prove this statement?

    “because he refused to speak out against all the alleged corruption that was allegedly rampant during his tenure” – I fail to understand the need for putting alleged corruption and allegdly rampant – was it not an open book and shut case the CWG and Coal scam under Singhs temure, can you justify the reason for using alleged word here ?

  8. Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,Barnala (Punjab)

    Very poor and pitiable reflection of BJP led by NaMo-Amit Shah scheme of things at present !

    It symbolises conceding of defeat in advance by harping on very cheap and hollow tactics-politics to just remain alive in battle of ballot box (EVM) !

    The BJP and its bandwagon fallacy now is running short of ideas and at its wits end to fancy any worthwhile and new narrative this time !

    No doubt, NaMo suffers from many weaknesses but Congress, Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi are his incorrigible weaknesses ! But ironically after the humiliation suffered by BJP and duo of NaMo-Shah in the Hindi Heartland States of Madhya Pradesh,Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh at the hands of Congress led Rahul Gandhi in Assembly Polls, these have evidently become quite poignant and evidently inevitable in the run up to the prestigious 2019 Lok Sabha Polls ! The performance of BJP in Telengana and Mizoram Assembly Polls too failed to cheer up the sagging morale of the BJP, its leadership and party activists !

    NaMo has not learnt any lesson from the past because Congress, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have not ceased haunting him day and night restlessly !

    It is not at all disputable that Congress, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will certainly prove to his ultimate
    ” POLITICAL -ELECTORAL POLL DEBACLE HAMARTIA ” !

    Moreover, NaMo has not anything worthwhile and goodie-goodie to sell in the market of 2019 Lok Sabha Polls that is why very helplessly and hopelessly he has to rely upon Congress, Sonia and Rahul tales ?

    What should he do now in these startling and mindboggling circumstances is his problem because it is he who is crazy to don the
    hot seat for the second time ? There is a hell of difference between 2013- 2014 and 2018-2019 !

    I am reminded of a celebrated poet Sahir Ludhianvi ‘s evergreen and universal couplet :
    ” Aadami Ko Chahiye Waqt Se Dar Kar Rahe
    Kaun Jaane Kis Garhi Waqt Ka Badle Mizaz. ”
    NaMo must read the writing on the wall that the mood of 2018 has already undergone a change !

    The 2019 mood foresees pleasant and startling changes on the Indian Political- Election Scene learning a
    lot from the dismal past !

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  9. “happened oh-so-long ago?”
    You mean till just 4 years back ??

    What the f do you mean by “fishpond called Delhi” ?

    You call them (BJP) out for creating a narrative ( false one as per you)?! Yes they are communal (majority of BJP supporters might be) but I don’t believe Modi is communal.

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