Published On : Mon, Jan 14th, 2019

An Accidental Prime Minister : A Self Goal by the BJP?

Anyone who views this farce of a movie will understand why the Congress party, on a resurgent mode, has not objected vociferously to its release despite Sonia and the ‘Parivar’ being portrayed as its out and out villains. The movie is so one sided, so vapid and boring that audience will come out feeling sympathetic for the man who was India’s Prime Minister for two consecutive terms, and the party he represented.

Wish the BJP had at least selected some Director of repute to helm this obvious propaganda film, which it has chosen as it’s first salvo to the upcoming elections.

Here’s what a reviewer, Deviah Bopanna, says about Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, the Director of this flick : “We’ve all come across method actors. But Vijay Gutte is probably the first method director in the world. To really understand Corruption and scamming, the man himself got arrested in a GST scam for cooking up fake bills and causing a loss of ₹34 crore to the state exchequer while making this movie. But he must have made the government so proud of his commitment to the film that he was let go on bail.”

Apart from this charge against him, look at the antecedents of Vijay Gupte. His father is the Chairman of Sunil Hitech, a company that was floated with a family that had close ties with Munde. The lead actor of the movie is husband of a BJP M.P. and the second lead, Akshay Khanna playing Baru is the son of a deceased BJP politician who was also an M.P. Can it have BJP written any more over it?

Forget Manmohan Singh’s reality, is the movie even faithful to the book written by Sanjay Baru who was Singh’s media advisor for 4 years only?

The ‘screen play’ if one can call it that, deviates so many times from the book that one wonders if any one associated with the film even read the book at all!

It shows Sanjay Baru saying things about Congress leaders like Ahmed Patel that is not just not there in the book but contrary to what Baru has written.

In the film, Sonia Gandhi’s trusted aide, Ahmed Patel’s character gets considerably more screen time than his boss. As an emissary of Sonia Gandhi, the film almost always portrays him as being shrewd and scheming. There is, however, no such portrayal of him in the book.

In the BOOK, Sanjay Baru writes that “I had very little to do with Patel and the few times we met he was very warm and friendly.”

Akshaye Khanna as Baru in the movie mouths dialogues that indicate Mr. Singh knew and approved of the book being written on him and later – after the book was published – his wife indicated to Baru that the former P.M. was riveted by it.

This is pure hog wash. On the contrary, Baru makes it clear in the introduction itself that Singh wasn’t in the loop about the book. This episode in the film has been entirely dramatised, it seems, to make it appear as if the book had the former PM’s approval.

“I have not shared the contents of the book with Mr. Singh prior to its publication. Indeed he may not approve of many of my observations and may even disapprove of my decision to write the book” the Real, not the Reel Baru said in an interview.

Well, if not as a truthful recording of facts, how does the movie pan out?

The Accidental Prime Minister totally takes away agency from the former prime minister – which is rather unfair to any neutral eyes.

The Accidental Prime Minister also suffers when it comes to the screenplay, as many reviewers have pointed out.

“Shoddy is putting it lightly. The movie jumps from past and present incoherently. Director Vijay Ratnakar Gutte who also co-wrote the movie appears unsure of the treatment. It is a messy jumble – from dramatic scenes and real footage to asides and made-up news clips. ”

It is pathetic to see a talented actor who began his career on such a grand note, reduced to playing a caricature of the former P.M. He comes across as a parody of the soft-spoken Dr Singh. One can’t see beyond his hands that seem to be controlled like a puppet’s. The effete walk and the subdued voice are attempts to recreate Dr Singh’s personality but fall short and appear to be more of a caricature. There is a painstakingly done attempt to put across Dr Singh as ‘kamzor’, so he appears not real at all!

Sonia Gandhi is played by Suzanne Bernert like an emotionless, reactionless individual, while Arjun Mathur’s Rahul Gandhi is entitled and clueless. This brings us to Akshaye Khanna’s Sanjaya Baru. Most unlike of any of the portrayals in the movie is Baru’s. In one stroke the movie undermines Dr Singh while portraying Baru as the hero. There is only one hero in this political drama based on Baru’s memoir – Baru himself.

As Indian Express puts it – What comes as a surprise is just how shockingly bad and shoddy the film is. There is a complete absence of any art or craft in its making. Almost all the characters, including the two main leads, Singh (Kher) and Baru (Khanna), come off as caricatures. Kher minces through the film, his voice reedy, thin, shaky, his body language nervous and unconfident: at no point does Kher’s Singh look like a man who inhabited the PM ki kursi for two full Lok Sabha terms with any conviction.

Breaking the fourth wall is a convention used sparingly in theatre and film to score a point. Khanna’s smug, smirking Baru keeps turning around and addressing us, breaking the illusion of the ‘reel’, claiming first person vantage of telling us the ‘real’ story. Khanna is always togged out in techni-coloured sharply tailored suits – a far cry from how Sanjay Baru always dressed in person – and is shown to have the kind of enviable access in the corridors of power, literally, that very few senior ministers can ever hope to dream of. In fact, this film is so much more about Baru that it could just as easily have been dubbed ‘The Omnipresent Media Adviser’.

More than the book by this name, An Accidental Prime Minister seems more inspired by the ‘Game of Thorns’ but without the intrigue and the suspense of that thriller.

More entertaining than the movie has been its publicity! Specially the interview Anupam Kher has done comparing his portrayal of Singh with Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in the movie Gandhi and opining that he too deserves an Oscar for it!!!

Sunita Mudaliar