THE REEL DEAL
THE REEL DEAL
Mired in controversy since the release of its trailer with multiple cases filed against its makers, “The Accidental Prime Minister” – based on the 2014 memoir by political analyst Sanjaya Baru on the tenure of Dr Manmohan Singh as the prime minister – is a bonafide political potboiler, both on screen and off it.
The movie has raked up talk about its portrayal of a the Congress and has raised questions on whether the filmmaker has a political agenda given that the movie was timed to hit the screens before the 2019 general elections.
The film's trailer gives a glimpse of how the narrative will emphasise on the contradiction and difference of opinion between the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress Party, especially its then president Sonia Gandhi.
In fact, such elements in the book also received some criticism in 2014.
The film’s cast and crew say it is an entertaining movie without any political agenda, but the Congress has long dubbed the movie as “fake propaganda by the BJP”.
Critics of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), say the party fuelled the controversy by tweeting the trailer of the movie from its official Twitter handle.
The biographical political drama, which released on January 11, has already raised political temperatures with the BJP latching on to it to hit out at the Gandhi family, while the Congress has questioned the BJP's motive behind "promoting the film" and raised objections to the "incorrect presentation of the facts" in the film.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: "Such fake propaganda by BJP won't desist Congress from questioning the Modi government on - rural distress, rampant unemployment, demonetisation disaster, flawed GST, failed Modinomics and all pervading corruption.
"Nation wants governance, not diversion," tweeted Surjewala in reply to BJP's tweet on the trailer of the movie.
Meanwhile, the BJP promoted the movie’s trailer and tweeted: "Riveting tale of how a family held the country to ransom for 10 long years. Was Dr Singh just a regent who was holding on to the PM's chair till the time heir was ready? Watch the official trailer of 'The Accidental Prime Minister', based on an insider's account, releasing on 11 January."
The BJP came under heavy criticism for promoting the movie, but Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore defended BJP for "extending wishes" for the film.
"Can't we extend our wishes to a film? Congress has been all for freedom, why is it questioning that freedom now?" Rathore told the media outside Parliament.
Meanwhile, informed party sources said that the Congress top leadership has asked its members and leaders to refrain from reacting to the movie in social media or public platforms.
"Manmohan Singh's image is too big to be sullied by such cheap attempts. Why should we fall trap to BJP's propaganda by reacting to the movie?" said a party source.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh too ridiculed the BJP’s "desperate efforts" to promote “The Accidental Prime Minister” ahead of the Lok Sabha elections as a political stunt aimed at demeaning the Congress.
Amarinder described the BJP's attempt to use the movie, which seeks to project two-time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a weak and docile prime minister, as "not only childish but brazenly politically motivated".
"The use of the movie's recently released trailer by the BJP, which was tweeted from the party's official twitter handle and promoted by many of its leaders on the social media, to criticize Dr Singh at this important political juncture in India's journey clearly showed their desperation and frustration in the face of their imminent defeat in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections," the Chief Minister said
However, Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, the director of "The Accidental Prime Minister", wants people to talk about the film for its creative aspects rather than its political backdrop as he feels the audience is assuming he has a political agenda behind releasing the film ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
The film has receiving polarised feedback from the general audience since the trailer of the movie was shared by the official Twitter handle of the BJP.
"The moment a political party showed a gesture of promoting the film, unfortunately, the focus shifted from the creative side of the story to political debate," Gutte said.
"The whole team -- the cast and the crew -- has worked really hard to put the film together. But the moment the Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted the trailer of the film on social media, people started talking about if it is a political agenda," Vijay said.
In the film, veteran actor Anupam Kher plays Manmohan Singh. Akshaye essays Sanjaya Baru, who worked as a media advisor of the Prime Minister from 2004 to 2008.
National Award winning actor Anupam Kher says cinema and politics cannot be separated since one reflects the other.
Anupam said: "A filmmaker or an artiste really cannot figure out why people are voting for a political party. Some voters are loyalists; some are making a list of good and bad to choose a party and the government. How much can a film could contribute to that?
"Having said that, I personally believe that when people go to vote for choosing a government, they do not decide anything based on the impact of a film."
Does the film intend to influence the voters to form an opinion on the Congress party by showing Singh in a critical light?
"It is ridiculous to say that people choose a political party and a change happened in the government because of Sanjay Baru's book! Similarly, it would be silly to say that this film will change the result of the election this year," replied the 63-year-old actor.
The film features Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Suzanne Bernert, Aahana Kumra and Arjun Mathur among others.