After numerous teases and first looks which definitely caught everyone’s attention, the first trailer of the movie The Accidental Prime Minister dropped last night. It is an Indian biographical political drama on the 13th Prime Minister of India, Mr. Manmohan Singh. The movie stars Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Suzanne Bernert and Arjun Mathur amongst others, and is directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte. It is an adaptation of the extremely controversial book of the same name, which is a memoir by the author Mr. Sanjaya Baru. He served as the media advisor to Mr. Singh from May 2004 to August 2008. The trailer simply put is “explosive” and if it accurately depicts even 50% of the film then India might just have it’s most controversial movie ever. It could put the likes of Padmaavat (2017), Black Friday (2007) and Water (2005) to shame.
In the movie, Anupam Kher (Silver Linings Playbook, Sooryavansham) essays the titular character of Mr. Singh while Akshaye Khanna plays Mr. Baru. We get to see a very realistic looking Mr. Singh who talks in the same soft and muffled voice as he normally did and a lot of chaos plaguing him. The movie is told through Khanna’s character which often breaks the fourth wall to recount events that are slowly unfolding. This narrative structure has successfully been used in many movies such as Annie Hall, High Fidelity and most recently Deadpool. From the looks of it, the movie is going to be unabashedly direct in it’s messaging and will lack any subtlety whatsoever. A no holds barred kind of a deal. What is most ironic is that Anupum Kher who has been the biggest critic of Mr. Singh is portraying him in a very influential movie for millions to see.
The book, which the movie is adapted from, has been proclaimed to be extremely controversial as very serious allegations have been made against the then Prime Minister, Mr. Singh. The most serious of which is that the Mr. Singh had no control over his government and was merely a pawn put in place by the party president, Sonia Gandhi. The PM has categorically dismissed authenticity of the book and went so far as to calling it a “attempt to misuse a privileged position”.
But what is perhaps a lot more interesting is the timing of the book. The Accidental Prime Minister was published right in the midst of the Indian general elections in April 2014. And many have pointed out that the book was an attempt to swing the elections in the opposition’s favor, which surprisingly did win that year. This movie too is releasing just a few months before the next general elections in 2019 and could be an ill attempt to influence the mindsets of the voters, again. Or maybe it could be a factually correct biopic, only time will tell.
On the other hand, we have Thackeray, another biographical film this time based on the life of Bal Thackeray, the founder of the Indian political party Shiv Sena. It too is releasing right before the elections. What we can gather from all of this is that the influence that the entertainment industry can have on the political climate of the country is unparalleled. People have taken notice of this and are trying to capitalize on it. No one can vouch for the veracity of such movies. At the end of the day facts and reason trump all, especially movies as they are nothing more than pieces of art.
The Accidental Prime Minister releases on 11 January, 2019.