Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s political tale on Dr. Manmohan Singh entertains you with its appeal, but leaves questions unanswered
The moment you watched the trailers, the film with its uncanny resemblances to the real people involved in the plot amazed you. In fact even after watching the film, the fact remains that it is indeed the most important element of the film as a whole. The Accidental Prime Minister scores high on its performances and how actors have slipped into personalities’ images. However when it comes to the film as a contextual reference point, it falls back leaving you unsatisfied.
The film chronicles the story, mostly what is behind the curtains, of what it took for UPA to make Dr. Manmohan Singh (Anupam Kher) the PM of the country and what actually went through the mind of Dr. Singh all the while.
Based on the memoir of the same name by the then media advisor of PM Sanjaya Baru, the film has been penned by Gutte, Mayank Tewari, Karl Dunne, and Aditya Sinha. Looking at it in its entirety, its an earnest attempt throwing light on aspects mostly unknown to people. Starting off with swearing in ceremony of the PM, the film swiftly moves forward to giving you details about how things panned in the country during the time Dr. Manmohan SIngh was the PM.
The two terms of him being the PM are divided in a clean manner in two halves, thus keeping only pivotal parts. While the first 5 years are shown to concern only him becoming the PM and Nuclear Deal with USA, the second half (an emotional one) deals with Kashmir issue and how Dr. Singh is asked to not initiate any dialogue, 2G scam, corruptiom charges and all the times he was quiet. While you do get some information (different from what you know through news), it by and large seems very dramatic with a forced perspective.
All throughout, Dr. Singh has been portrayed as a ‘weak person’ who couldn’t take any decision on his own, sometimes out of his inability or mostly because he was just helpless. Of course, that is interesting to watch, but only if you delve deep into his psyche. You better be a mature audience to get this, or else it’s very easy to rub it off.
After watching it, you clearly feel that this evidently isn’t a subject for a film. Even the key issues presented are told in a passing momentum, neither making you informed nor entertained. Cinematically speaking, the narrative structure where Sanjaya Baru (Akshaye Khanna) speaks to the audience becoming the main medium attempts hard and well to make sense and engage the audience, but it falls back in intensity.
Good thing- hats off to the casting, costumes, and make-up department in addition to the actors, literally all of them. Since the people in question have been in public domain largely (Dr. Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel, Sanjaya Baru, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, Navin Patnaik, Amar Singh, APJ Abdul Kalam, etc.), it was quite easy to go wrong. One hair here and there, or one walk action incorrectly executed, and the audience would go off. But makers have ensured to not spoof the things, treating the audience in a decent way.
Its mostly because of Anupam Kher that root to the film. Not just he looks the part, he’s become the character he’s playing. He carries a major part of the film of his strong shoulders and once again shows what a genius he is. In fact he presents Dr. Singh’s inner psyche so well that it answers all those who had been thinking about his thought processes all throughout.
Give it up for Akshaye Khanna in the role of Sanjaya Baru who not only brings layers but also a light relief in the otherwise hard political drama. It is him that holds your finger and guides you within the story. Also, he shines as an actor. Great work by him.
Sussane Bernert as Sonia Gandhi is impressive. Whenever she occupies the frame, you are sure of some action, something that is crucial to the plot. Cinematically, she is a genuine catalyst for the drama.
Divya Seth as Mrs. Gursharan Kaur is too good. On Dr. Singh’s personal front her character emerges as fierce. With a commendable Seth’s work, you like her on screen.
Arjun Mathur and Aahana Kumra as Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi respectively have their moments but do not have much to say within the boundaries of the plot. Vipin Sharma as Ahmed Patel is very good.
Sudip Roy and Sadhu Tiwari’s music is good, nothing great. Its the background score however that wins your heart. Rightly placed in situations, you get a rooted feel of the film.
Sachin Krishn’s camera is routine and simple. Not that it lacks anywhere, but there isn’t anything extraordinary about it. Even the lighting is plain and to-the-point.
Praveen K L has edited the film nicely, with whatever he had as the raw offering. The flow is maintained well. what is lacking is because of the flaws in the scripting.
Sukant Panigrahy, Paul Rowan, and Tarpan Shrivastava’s production design is visually enticing. The appeal of the film pleases the eyes. If only there was more experimentation with the camera.
Of course this is a film that boasts of sincere attempt, so much so that it can even termed the best piece out of such a literary piece. But when it comes to screen, it doesn’t carry the punch a film of such subject and scale demanded. It has his moments, elements to vouch for, but expecting too much will only result in disappointment. A decent watch though.