I really have no clue why Anupam Kher, considered as one of the finest actors in Indian cinema, would go all out and proclaim that The Accidental Prime Minister is not a propaganda movie. Trust me, it definitely is. The reason why the movie exists is to show how vile the last government was and how it took down who was supposed to be an intelligent, if weak, ex-Prime Minister along with it. The Accidental Prime Minister Movie Review: Akshaye Khanna and Anupam Kher Make This Part-Satire, Part-Propaganda Watchable!
A film has every right to criticise a party and government in a democratic country. However, when vested interested are involved in the conception of that film, then it turns to be propaganda. Just like Sanju was, after all, a white-washing project for actor Sanjay Dutt.
The Accidental Prime Minister, directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, is based on the book by the same name, written by former journalist Sanjaya Baru. The movie, like the book, chronicles Baru's first-person account of Manmohan Singh's tenure as the Prime Minister, while he was serving as his Press Secretary. While Kher plays MMS in the film, Akshaye Khanna plays Baru who often breaks the fourth wall to offer his scathing commentary on the politics. Supreme Court Refuses Urgent Hearing on Plea Against 'The Accidental Prime Minister'.
The movie, however, transcends beyond Baru's version of the events, with enough liberties taken with the fold of events to present a very biased view. Many of the events shown in the film are something we are already familiar with (which is why we even elected Modi over MMS in 2014 to change things for better, but then...) and the movie offers you no new perspective.
So why was The Accidental Prime Minister made and released in a year when the next assembly elections are being held? You and I know the reason! Here are five reasons how The Accidental Prime Minister proved with its biases that it is nothing but heavy propaganda!
Manmohan Singh - The Congress Scapegoat
Right from scene one, we know that Sonia Gandhi is going to be hinted at as the evil overlord in the film. When Congress wins the elections in 2004, the party expected Sonia Gandhi to take the PM mantle. The movie gives the reason why she chose not to do so as Rahul Gandhi's insistence that he didn't want to lose her like his father and grandfather.
IRL that is just one of the speculated reasons. The movie conveniently forgot that the NDA alliance, of which BJP is a part of, were screaming that they don't want the country to be ruled by an Italian woman. The movie even showed that Congress leaders were visibly displeased with Singh's appointment, while the late Vajpayee, a BJP leader, called it a masterstroke! The Accidental Prime Minister also depicted how in a couple of important decisions, like the nuclear deal, it was the other parties who stood with MMS, while his own party head, Sonia Gandhi, left him stranded. There are many references to how the 'family' (muted in a couple of places) is deciding things, rather than the government.
There is nary a doubt about how Singh's many policies came with the approval of Madamji. The Accidental Prime Minister leaves no opportunity to show how Sonia Gandhi and her sycophants try to make MMS as their scapegoat for their fallacies. The movie shows that if it was not for MMS, the party would never have got a second term (when, in reality, Singh had lost in his own constituency). Ahmed Patel, the political secretary of Sonia, is depicted as this conniving man who carries out most of the dirty deeds for the party.
Also, what's with the ominous score given when Sonia Gandhi appears on screen?
Showing Manmohan Singh as 'Kamzor'
In an interview to Quint, Anupam Kher claimed that this is the best portrayal of Manmohan Singh. He had said, "I can only give this message to Dr Manmohan Singh that, if he genuinely watches and in his heart of hearts even if he acknowledges to himself that this is the best portrayal of him, it will not be an exaggeration." There are a lot of things wrong with his statement here. For one, this is the only portrayal of Manmohan Singh on the big screen and it is exaggerated! Anupam Kher overdoes MMS' walking style while some of the critics pointed that he was sounding more like Sachin Tendulkar than Singh. At the same time, Akshaye Khanna portrays Baru like someone from a Page 3 party, while the real Baru is nothing like that!
While I would forgive that, what I can't look over is that just like the assembly sessions, the movie doesn't give Singh any sort of voice. He is shown as this weak guileless rubber-stamp, whose more courageous decisions happen because he gets unexpected support and Baru's help. At one point, even Baru calls him 'kamzor' in the film. The Accidental Prime Minister, at no point, lets us get into the head of the man and understand his viewpoint. Instead, it plays with what's the common perception of people about him.
Portraying Rahul Gandhi as an Imbecile
We are in 2019. It is neither Dr Manmohan Singh nor Sonia Gandhi who is leading Congress against BJP in the upcoming elections. It is Rahul Gandhi. Therefore, the movie has a special love in the way how RaGa (played by Arjun Mathur) is portrayed. RaGa in the movie is a man who likes to take extremely long pauses between sentences. He also talks to his mother in Italian in the presence of other members to say something aggressive.
The movie goes even further in showing RaGa as some sort of imbecile. In an election campaign scene, they put Arjun's face with a very awkward expression on a banner to elicit laughs. In another scene, the makers recreate that infamous interview that Arnab Goswami had with Rahul Gandhi.
Keeping BJP Out of Negative Light
While The Accidental Prime Minister did make enough digs at Congress (many of them valid), BJP, the then opposition party, got enough leeway. Not only were their slandering of MMS given a miss, but the movie also showed that some of their leaders were happy with MMS's appointment in the film. During the nuclear deal sequence, it was shown that the Left had opposed it vehemently, threatening to withdraw support from the party, which was true. The movie also ignores that BJP also opposed the deal with equal aggression. But then, BJP's stand didn't make Sonia baulk in worry, like the Left, did it?
Interestingly, Narendra Modi never makes an appearance in the film, considering he was the most vocal critic of MMS, even calling him names in the assembly. NaMo does later appear towards the end shown through real-life footage of him addressing rallies, which was the film's sly way of depicting him as the country's new saviour!
Lying That Manmohan Singh Knew About The Book Being Written
Towards the end, Akshaye Khanna's Sanjaya Baru reveals that he talked to Manmohan Singh about writing a book on the 'truth' that happened during his tenure. When in reality, Baru ha never told Singh about writing the book, and they never interacted later, unlike in the film where Singh walks away from him, disappointed (with a weird Kal Ho Naa Ho BG score playing). Cinematic liberties are cool, but not when the truth could change the destiny of a nation.