Cast: Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Suzanne Bernert
Director: Vijay Ratnakar Gutte
The Accidental Prime Minister is based on the book with the same name written by Sanjaya Baru, who was the media advisor of the former Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh (Anupam Kher). The film revolves around Sanjaya Baru’s (Akshaye Khanna) relationship with the PM and how he strived hard to manage his public image. This even as his own party wanted the PM to toe the line of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, whose power was unquestionable.
What’s it about?
After watching the trailer of this film I had braced myself for a virtual spoof-fest with caricatures trying to ape real life politics. But I came out pleasantly surprised. The Accidental Prime Minister is a bold film for using the real names and revealing how India’s grand old political party functioned while it was in power.
However, it isn’t half as hard-hitting as most political potboilers the country has produced. Instead, the film is a more quirky account of the behind-the-scenes in the corridors of power. And leading the pack are two men. Anupam Kher and Akshaye Khanna. Both complement each other. Kher gets into the skin of the character not just imitating the walk, speech, and mannerisms of Dr. Singh but also living it like real. After a point, you will most likely forget that it’s Anupam Kher. He also manages to bring out the internal conflict of his character between standing his ground and doing what the high command wants.
And Akhshaye Khanna matches him step-by-step. As the narrator of the story, he strikes an easy chord with the audience as he often talks to them directly. Even in a high-pressure environment, his character keeps the narrative light-hearted. Not only does it feel that the actor is having fun with his character, but it is also clear that he has added his own dynamic into it, unlike the rest.
Besides these two, the others have precious little to do. And that’s not great news. Wish the family dynamics was shown in detail. Barring Sonia Gandhi played by a German actress, the rest of the Gandhi family doesn’t feature much in the film. A lot of important issues are either brushed under the carpet or brushed past except the Nuclear deal that finds ample mention in the first half.
The scams that rocked the UPA government’s second term, the 26/11 terror attacks and other key issues only find passing mentions. Often the film intercuts into the grainy film footage of actual events making the edit look shoddy. Thankfully, there are no songs and at no point does the film seem tedious in its pace.
Overall, the Accidental Prime Minister gives you what it promises – a peak into the rumblings of India’s biggest political party that ruled for 10 years straight against all odds. This film may not be as gritty as the rest from the genre, but has what it takes to entertain you with a touch of realism. For everything else, there’s Google!
By Ronak Kotecha