Cast: Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Arjun Mathur
Director: Vijay Ratnakar Gutte
‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ is a bad film. Period.
I wouldn’t mind that it reeks of propaganda or is a completely biased depiction of Dr Manmohan Singh’s stint as the Prime Minister of India. What’s appalling is how amateurish the movie looks. Every character, with the lone exception of Akshaye Khanna, is unabashedly caricaturized.
For the uninitiated, the film is based on Sanjaya Baru’s memoir of the same name. In his tell-all, Baru talks about his stint as the media advisor at the Prime Minister’s Office. The author claims that the PM was completely subservient to the party high command, implying that Sonia Gandhi was the one running the show. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t comment on whether the film does justice to Baru’s account or not. What I can, however, say is that there is no new disclosure in the film.
There’s nothing new about the insinuations that Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi was at the helm of affairs when the Unite Progressive Alliance government was at the Centre. In fact, many believed that Dr Singh was chosen purely for being docile and submissive.
The fact, that ‘one’ family has run the show for too long in this country is also not new information. It also doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Sonia was just waiting for the right time to anoint Rahul Gandhi and hand over the reins. All this is coming knowledge. So, what really is the big revelation? Nothing whatsoever!
What we probably didn’t know was how instrumental a person like Sanjaya Baru was in the PMO’s office. And there is no way to factcheck that! We can only take his word for it when he says he actually sat and coached the PM on the pauses and stress points in his speeches.
In their attempt to make the PM look subservient, they have him shuffling around with an almost Chaplin-esque gait. He has puppet-like mannerisms with a shrill, almost imperceptible way of speaking. It is a shame that a former PM of the country has actually been reduced to a caricature in a film/book that was supposed to be empathetic towards him.
Akshaye Khanna as the narrator stands tall in a role that makes him look dapper, far-sighted and resolute. Every now and then Khanna’s character talks directly to the audience and fills them in with what is ‘unsaid’ in the scene. He looks suave, but this character obviously places itself on a pedestal and looks down on everyone else as either an opportunist or too naïve. There’s no nuance here.
The film, interjected with real-life footage of campaigns, news clips and television interviews, betrays shoddy craftsmanship. Even the halls where important official banquets are portrayed to be held look garish and have repulsive décor. The movie plays out more like a cheap wedding video than a hard-hitting political drama.
No matter which side of the political spectrum you belong to, or even if you are a neutral spectator, I am sure you’d have loved a compelling story that gave us an insight into what really happens in the corridors of power. Alas, this film comes nowhere close to that. It comes across as a cheap publicity stunt with nothing going for it.