Debutant director Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s The Accidental Prime Minister is based on the book of the same name by Sanjaya Baru. The author was the media adviser of Dr Manmohan Singh, India’s former Prime Minister.
The film mainly focuses on how Singh (played by Anupam Kher) was ‘remote controlled’ by the then Congress party President Sonia Gandhi during his tenure as the PM from 2004 to 2014.
The big question before and after the release is not whether the film does justice to the book. The curiosity is about whether the film is a propaganda machine against the Congress and in favour of the ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).
There is absolutely no doubt that it is indeed that, as suggested by the trailers. But this is not the problem with the film. I personally believe that anyone has a right to make a film on any subject while advocating any ideology. It should be left to the audience to decide what to accept and what not to.
The problem with The Accidental Prime Minister is that it makes the propaganda look too obvious and in-your-face throughout.
Even if the creative minds behind the film hate people like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, they should do justice with the characters. Even the cruellest of villains deserves to be portrayed in a believable way.
Over here Sonia (Suzanne Bernert) and Rahul (Arjun Mathur) are nothing more than caricatures. The former, especially, reminds you of the amateurish performances seen in stand-up comedy shows. Surprisingly, even BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Ram Avtar), India’s ex-Prime Minister, Lal Krishna Advani are not spared from being caricaturish. Priyanka Gandhi (Aahana Kumra) is the only believable real character.
The other motto of The Accidental Prime Minister was to show Singh as a pawn and a victim of party politics. Kher does fairly well but tries too hard to present Singh as a bechara, both in terms of the physical attributes and the voice. His manner of moving his hands while walking is a put off.
During one of the interviews for the film, the director said that they have ‘added’ scenes to link one incident from the book to another in situations where Baru couldn’t have been present. But some conversations in these scenes are difficult to believe.
For example, once Rahul speaks to Sonia in Italian in front of their senior party members. This instantly reminds you of the old ‘Italian’ jibe at the mother-son duo by BJP leaders. And why will be do that in front of others? Similarly, Kapil Sibal’s press conference where he denies the Coalgate scam appears unintentionally hilarious.
The disclaimer at the start states that the film is made purely to entertain. However, the aforementioned points ensure that even if you wish to look at the film just as a film you can’t because the makers have gone overboard in advocating their political narrative. Featuring heroic real speeches of India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t help either.
This is where Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar (2017) differed. It made its stand clear against the Congress party but didn’t go overboard in proving the same.
The Accidental Prime Minister does have something for those who are deeply knowledgeable in the politics of that period. But this remains mostly in the first half. The post-interval portion suffers from a disjointed screenplay. As a viewer, at times you don’t realize which year is going on.
Amid all this, the only silver lining is Akshaye Khanna’s performance as Sanjaya Baru. He comes up with one of his finest acts while playing a character that offers a lot of scope. He ensures that your interest is maintained even when The Accidental Prime Minister keeps meeting with accidents.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Review by: Keyur Seta
Director: Vijay Ratnakar Gutte
Producers: Pen Movies and Bohra Brothers
Writers: Mayank Tewaari, Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, Karl Dunner and Aditya Sinha
Cast: Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Suzanne Bernert, Arjun Mathur
Genre: Political Drama
Runtime: 150 minutes