Pride & Pressure
Film: The Accidental Prime Minister
Director: Vijay Ratnakar Gutte
Cast: Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Suzanne Bernert, Divya Seth
A few years ago when author Sanjay Baru released his memoirs of former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in a book titled The Accidental Prime Minister there was outrage from the opposition but after a few court cases nothing came out of the protests.
Something similar happened with the film adapted from the book. There were a few court cases but the censor board has cleared the film with a few cuts.
For those who have read the book, the film is a faithful adaptation of it. For those who haven’t but followed the headlines; the film is a recap of what happened during that time from an insider’s perspective.
What works about the film is the concept. This is the first time that the Prime Minister of our country is the subject of a feature film and what makes it interesting is that the narrator was his former media advisor.
The film touches upon all the controversies of that time – the sting operations exposing the 2G/3G scams, the UPA government’s nuclear deal, Congress party President Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh’s public persona.
In my opinion what is more interesting than the political ongoing is the anatomy of a relationship between a celebrity/ Dr Manmohan Singh essayed by Anupam Kher and his media advisor/ Sanjay Baru played by Akshaye Khanna. Their reasons of attraction, reasons cementing a foundation of trust, their areas of conflicts, their collective challenges and the sudden and unarticulated withdrawal of the celebrity from his confidante.
It is a film about the pressures a Prime Minister goes through, about the pride of a journalist, about unequal relationships and unethical decisions, a story about the country no doubt but also about conscience!
While the camera most of the time focuses on the ministry chambers and what conspires within locked doors, one misses the outer and the real world of the writer, his family and his sounding board.
Akshaye Khanna is forever globetrotting, sipping champagne and smoking cigars and one wonders if he ever nurses any self-doubt or ever feels even remotely vulnerable?
The advisor is forever flamboyantly dressed but the costume budget gets embarrassingly constrained when it comes to women both Suzane Bernert playing Sonia Gandhi and Aahana Kumra playing Priyanka Gandhi attired in fabrics unworthy of their stature.
The Prime Minister’s chamber and the PMO office is overemphasized like a palace but when he addresses a press conference the flower decoration on the dais is fake and plastic.
What is missing in the film is some humor and pathos. There is a lack of energy because everything unfolds on an even keel but then that is politics, everything simmers never really explodes!!
It is a superbly cast film where all the actors comfortably fit into the character’s shoes. Special mention must be made of Vipin Sharma who plays Sonia Gandhi’s advisor Ahmed Patel and Divya Sheth who comfortably passes as Gurshuran Kaur.
Akshaye Khanna projects the author/ advisor with amazing conviction. He is arrogant, aloof, compassionate, and controversial all at the same time. He makes a colorful narrator and often winks into the camera too.
Anupam Kher internalizes Dr Manmohan Singh in not just his physical appearance/ voice/ walk and body language but also his reflexes and expressions. The eyes reveal too little and yet say a lot. The last scene when Akshaye calls out to the Prime Minister and he stops to look back – stays with you for a long time.
So must you watch you watch The Accidental Prime Minister? If you are a political animal, most certainly, if not, let me warn you that it is a film devoid of entertainment. But it is a film about our Prime Minister, our country so the choice is yours.
I rate The Accidental Prime Minister with 3 stars.