What better way to celebrate Narendra Modi’s historic mandate in the Lok Sabha election than with a Bollywood ‘biography’ movie that blurs fact and fiction to make him a larger-than-life leader? Omung Kumar’s film PM Narendra Modi starring Vivek Oberoi is on a mission to write a new history – one that wipes away any blemish Modi may have had.
The film fits perfectly as a sequel to Bal Narendra: Childhood Stories of Narendra Modi and as a prequel to Akshay Kumar’s ‘apolitical’ interview with Modi in April.
The film tells the (very long) story of Modi, right from his selling-tea days as a young boy to his win in the 2014 election. The film portrays Narendra Damodardas Modi – a name that is repeated so many times, you almost want to make a drinking game out of it – as the golden boy, who can do no wrong. He is always thinking of others, he is unambitious and not power hungry, he focusses on the greater good, he takes political advice from a saadhu, and he has no intention of getting married –all the qualities of an ideal leader and the most improbable politician.
The film hypes Narendra Modi as such a golden superhero that by the end of the first hour you wonder where the cape is and when the flying abilities will kick in. Modi is seen donating blood to both Gujarat earthquake and Gujarat riot victims. He even pulls out people from the rubble, and single-handedly digs a canal for the people of Kutch to save them.
The film starts with a disclaimer, announcing that its main intention is to inspire young minds to be more nationalistic. And on that part, it definitely delivers because the entire film has more nationalism stuffed into it than Kangana Ranaut and Anupam Kher’s monologues put together.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t skip over Narendra Modi’s controversial past. Unsurprisingly, it shows him as a super-secular chief minister during the Godhra riots, who actually goes to the streets and helps people.
Although the film isn’t directly anti-Muslim or anti-minority, it is replete with anti-Pakistan, anti-Congress, and pro-Hindutva rhetoric. It goes as far as having dialogues along the lines of, “Everyone in this country is a Hindu – even Muslims and Buddhists,” and, “India is secular because of Hinduism.” Every scene just gets worse and worse. One scene even has Modi likening the Gujarat Model of Development to the perfect cup of chai. He doesn’t stop there, and makes chai in front of his cabinet while describing the Gujarat Model.
By the end of it, if you’re not pulling your hair out, there is Vivek Oberoi’s performance that makes you question all your life decisions that led up to this point of you sitting in the movie theatre. The music is as original as using songs like Saare Jahan Se Achha and a rap song (because of the Gully Boy phenomenon) as background music. The screenplay is bland, and the editing seems to be as convincing as the foiled ‘terror threats’ to Modi’s life.
By the end of PM Narendra Modi you are exhausted – of the ‘artistic liberties’ the makers took, of the complete whitewashing of history and of the blatant propaganda being tested on you.
Chinua Achebe once said, “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”