“Modi Season 2: CM to PM” is a follow-up of just three episodes to last year’s “Modi: Journey of a Common Man” that released last year. I was not watching OTT then, so I cannot comment upon the series, which had seven.
Based on the book, “Modi: The Common Man’s PM,” the series is said to have traced the journey of Narendra Modi to political fame, complete with his unique childhood, adolescence, his tryst as a hermit and his joining RSS and politics to serve the nation.
This brief continuation talks about his being chosen the chief minister of Gujarat, Godhra and its aftermath, and his winning the 2014 General Elections and being chosen to lead the country.
Umesh Shukla is a multi-faceted talent who has acted in, written, produced and directed plays, TV series and movies in both Hindi and Gujarati, and his notable exercises in Hindi include the films “OMG—Oh My God!” (2012) and “102—Not Out” (2018). This is his digital debut and Season 2, in all possibility, was already made when last year’s episodes were out.
However, while we know that Shukla is no fancy technique-oriented maker, thanks to his origins on stage and TV, we expected a certain basic finesse in a biopic series that looked at such a huge and iconic persona. However, with his writers, Shukla seems to zoom, that too in jerks, in just three episodes of about 30 minutes -plus each through almost 15 decisive years of Modi’s career!
Finicky detractors of both the series and Modi himself would argue that the three episodes here are an over-glorification of a man whose life events as shown here are known to all, and the former tribe would be spot-on. The events of Godhra, like details of how Modi asked three neighboring states for help after the riots, are glossed over, and that’s a tepid statement. Modi mentions that there were no riots since 2002 until 2010—we know that. He states that he can be hanged if proved guilty—we know that too. We are aware of how he was initially supported by his seniors, though with some reservations on the part of a couple of them. We are aware that he opposed and thwarted corruption from the basic level to the top. So what’s new?
And what’s new need not have been only some unknown or rare facts about how his beliefs were formed but also, even if to assuage the critics, some “controversial” or politically-incorrect remarks he had made. And the fact that the Supreme Court rightly exonerated him in connection with the riots should have been shown more convincingly rather than just by a short meeting with the Central government’s Special Investigation Team interrogating him and an abrupt shift to cheering as he is declared innocent.
But my problems with this series go beyond the jerky, sketchy, superficial narrative: technically, the series, especially but not exclusively in episode one, does not look like a professional production, leave alone a story of a cult international figure that may be watched worldwide. Modi is not humanized but deified, and again, while we have no problems if deification was the intention, it should have been done logically, in intricate necessary detail and steps, and with proper narrative AND technical resources.
Mahesh Thakur as Modi is average, and I must confess that Vivek Aanand Oberoi was far better in the 2019 film. Makrand Deshpande as his mentor hams as usual, and the characters playing Vajpayee, Advani, Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Sushma Swaraj look like bad caricatures. The garish look and backdrops of episode 1 make us cringe, and the technical values are below-par, extremely tacky and stagey.
Modi and we deserved way better.
Produced by: Hitesh Thakkar, Umesh Shukla & Ashish Wagh
Directed by: Umesh Shukla
Written by: Kishore Makwana, Radhika Anand & Mihir Bhuta
Starring: Mahesh Thakur, Makrand Deshpande, Zakir Hussain & others