Movie : The Accidental Prime Minister Cast: Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Suzanne Bernert, Arjun Mathur, Divya Seth, Aahana Kumra, Vipin Sharma Director: Vijay Ratnakar Gutte
Reviewed by Jitendra Kumar Sharma
Satire is a powerful genre to win readers and influence public opinion. Not humor but wit is its weapon. Sharper the wit,mightier the satire.A satire achieves its purpose if wit is used to spotlight both the particular and wider issues it lights up and attacks.
The film version of Sanjay Baru’s book The Accidental Prime Minister of the same title fails to achieve its higher satiric purpose because instead of sharp wit, it stoops to coarse humor and wins neither the viewing public nor does it succeed in making its point.
Film Director Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s aim was perhaps to make a pro- Modi-BJP and anti-Manmohan Singh-Congress propaganda quickie. He seems eager to please Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP top brass rather than amuse the audience who buy cinema tickets to watch the movie.
The film script of The Accidental Prime Minister has made a patchwork of Sanjay Baru’s book. The disjointed film script does not seem to be the work of one writer. Perhaps several amateurs randomly jumbled together sentences and passages from Baru’s original text into a hodgepodge of motley and incongruous content. The result is that the film rather than amusing and tickling the viewer strains to eke out a forced laugh from the audience.
The chief character of the film is the former Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Gutte projects him as a gentle, meek, docile, submissive and miserably subservient personage. A very inexperienced politician who fluked the Prime Ministerial chair and is now at the beck and call of Congress Party leaders Sonia Gandhi and his son Rahul Gandhi. As portrayed in the film, he acts and lives at their mercy and is in his high office at their pleasure.
In the film, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is an estimable gentleman. He wants to do a lot for his nation but fails to act because he is supine and feckless and is unable to rise to the occasion. Himself, he is an honest politician but is weak and wishy-washy when it comes to fighting against corruption which is unrestrained and widespread within his own party and country.
Anupam Kher is known for being a consistently accomplished actor of much standing but his role and acting as Dr Singh are not Kher-like. His acting in The Accidental Prime Minister does not carry his distinctive mark. It gets marred because it is Modi-like and not Kher-like.
Prime Minister Modi mimics and parodies a lot before the mass audiences to achieve his rhetorical effects at his political rallies. Maybe, Anupam Kher is paying his compliments to his political hero or has taken the adage ‘what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’, too literally. The fine actor forgets that what is a trick of the trade for a politician may prove to be a mere dido for an actor. What works at a political rally may not work in a movie. Kher throughout the film is merely attempting to flatter Narendra Modi by copying the latter’s speech and style.
Gander and goose analogy does is absolutely inept here. Not only Kher and Modi are two very different personalities, Acting and Politics are two very different domains. Measures of performance in these two fields are worlds’ apart. Acting demands creative imitation of life. A low grade politician may get accolades by acting coarsely before his audiences but an actor cannot afford to be coarse even when he is imitating a buffoon. In The Accidental Prime Minister, Anupam Kher appears to be too intoxicated with the Modi wine to imitate creatively Dr. Manmoham Singh, a world-famed economist and an outstanding academic albeit a hapless politician. A right person in a high chair in wrong times and circumstances.
Kher imitates Dr.Singh coarsely, hoarsely like a self-conscious student imitates on a college stage his own teacher or principal. Anupam’s swinging of arms, or keeling gait, lurching speech, succeed only in making a cartoon of himself rather than honestly and creatively cloning Dr. Manmohan Singh, warts and all.
Akshaye Khanna’s portrayal of Baru, the journalist author of the book The Accidental Prime Minister is an attempt at pure acting. His creative imitation of the journalist Baru provides some relief from Anupam Kher’s spurious and specious Dr. Manmohan Singh. Akshaye’s faults are the faults of the Baru text. Calling Indian politics Mahabharata is a cliché but he mercifully makes no attempt at turning it into a McLuhanic archetype. Baru has called Dr Singh a Bhishma. Akshaye has faithfully communicated Baru’s understanding of his boss, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and his tongue-in-cheek admiration of the Bhishma of Mahabharata of Indian politics.
The Accidental Prime Minister gives the impression that it was not Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s own original inspiration. Perhaps, he has made the film at someone else’s suggestion because his direction lacks verve and style. It is roughly hewn, clumsily edited and the result is a jaded charade.
Brief appearance of President APJ Kalam betrays the director’s poor sartorial sense, for instances, Dr. Kalam with his famous silvery well-combed long hair, in the film, is represented by novice youngish raw actor adorning an ill-fitting wig, his pantaloons falling short of his legs, his speech hardly an echo of the learned and most honourable scientist Head of State India has had.
Dim and dulling news footage shoddily interlaced give continuosly spasmodic jerks to the flow and movement of the film. The narrative of events has nothing dramatic or compelling about it. Added to the wearied verbal dissonance is the unbearably ear-splitting cacophony of the background music [?]