Film: The Accidental Prime Minister
Starcast: Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna
Shekhar Kapur, whose own Bollywood career hasn’t been newsworthy for a while, set out to make headlines today by going onto Twitter in praise of Anupam Kher’s The Accidental Prime Minister. He describes it a must-see film. I agree. By every Indian, at least. And that’s what The Khaleej Times here in UAE seems to suggest as well. For two reasons only: the strong performances by Akshaye Khanna and, well, Anupam himself. And a behind-the-scenes dekho if not understanding of the great mess that is Indian politics.
That we all knew, or believed, the real Dr. Manmohan Singh was a weak man who was ironically blessed with great inner strength is now history. But for Anupam to carry this emotion all through the 1.50 hours’ film calls for acting indeed. And never mind that half his job is done by the incredible makeup that transforms Anupam almost into a doppelganger of Dr. Singh. He’s got his lines down really well. He walks and talks like the former premier. That itself is humorous because Dr. Manmohan Singh held himself with great dignity but he was not physically impressive as the Prime Minister. Anupam conveys that helplessness.
The life of Dr. Singh during his years at 7, Racecourse Road in New Delhi was not without political intrigue and controversy. And even before it’s release, director Vijay Gutte’s film based on personal advisor Sanjaya Baru’s book by the same name detailing those years of Dr. Singh as Prime Minister created quite a storm. Coming as it does when the Congress is gearing to wrest power out of the hands of Narendra Modi and the BJP in an election year, the question does arise: is The Accidental Year a propaganda film? No more than Uri: The Surgical Strike is.
On the contrary, I would think Gutte’s ‘PM’ is a bit of a caricature of the real man. His mannerisms in particular. But what he does end up conveying to the masses that pitied poor Dr. Singh his double tenure, is that here was a man who willy-nilly got pitch forked into the cesspool of Indian politics but held his head up high all the time despite the many provocations and insults to his pride. Anupam does that as smoothly as Dr. Singh dodged the slings and arrows of opposition outrage that were aimed at him during every parliamentary session.
The real hero of The Accidental Prime Minister, I would say, is the author of the book, Sanjaya Baru, played with almost a rakish sense of geniality by Bollywood’s most reticent actor, Akshaye Khanna, by taking the audience into his confidence and talking us through the film almost like he’s smilingly, apologetically telling is a political bedside story. The film ping-pongs between these two. Though it also features Suzanne Bernert, Aahana Kumra and Arjun Mathur as the Gandhis with a fair amount of accuracy. See the film for exclusively for Anupam and Akshaye. And also to confirm how Sonia Gandhi drove the party and government from the backseat singlehandedly despite Baru’s comment at the start that the fate of a country of a billion people is decided by a handful of people. Not in this dynasty. It was contained by one woman of Italian origin.
PEEPINGMOON GIVES The Accidental Prime Minister 3 MOONs