Produced by: Ssandip Singh, Acharya Manish & Suresh Oberoi
Directed by: Omung Kumar
Written by: Ssandip Singh, Anirudh Chawla, Harsh Limbachiyaa & Vivek Oberoi
Music: Hitesh Modak & Shashi-Khushi
Starring: Vivek Anand Oberoi, Barkha Bisht, Boman Irani, Zarina Wahab, Prashant Narayanan, Manoj Joshi, Anjan Srivastava, Rajendra Gupta, Imran Hasnee, Yatin Karyekar, Darshan Kumaar & others
MUMBAI—For starters, this film WAS made as a double plug – one, for Narendra Modi as per the thinking of those behind it, and two, for themselves. That is why they made the film so rapidly and wanted to release it well before the elections. The Election Commission put paid to their plans and, as (good) luck would have it, the film is now released just a day after the Lok Sabha results began to come in, but were clear nevertheless.
Two, the idea was clearly to show Modi as a hero, almost larger-than-life, as he battled seemingly unsurmountable battles with sagacity, strategy and finally triumph. With this in mind, the whole film is the story of a superhero until he is sworn in as the Prime Minister of India.
And yet, somewhere, possibly because of the aura around the PM, and the earnestness of the script and some actors, the film does connect to a decent level. Naysayers have called this film a “hagiography,” and maybe it is one by intent ONLY because Modi’s life from childhood until the time he took oath as the Prime Minister HAS BEEN anyway extraordinary and even larger-than-life.
The plus points? Yes, the film has quite a few. The script is racy, yet there is no feeling of abruptness or jerks anywhere. We get to know many things about Modi that most normal Indians never knew like the politics played out with him in New Delhi in his politically formative stages. The negative opposition forces may have been depicted in a manner suggesting caricatures, but the script seems to be in no mood to forgive those who willingly and deliberately did Modi as well as India wrong, and by happenstance, they are the same people!
Yes, ‘filmi’ touches adorn the film from start to finish, but here, the director’s (and producer’s) desperation to connect with everyone, including the masses, seems to be the driving point. Whether it is a cartoon-like Manmohan Singh, a stern Indira Gandhi or a fictitious ruthless businessman (Prashant Narayanan) who has all the characteristics of a typical villain, the film goes all out to preach, teach and reach the masses—so much that it stops well short of being a great biopic.
Despite the many clichés, the dialogues (Harsh Limbachiyaa and Vivek Oberoi) score most of the time. Vivek Oberoi gets progressively into his element as the on-screen age of Modi goes up – that is, he is far more impressive as the older Modi avatars. Rajendra Gupta is alright in the brief role of his father but Zarina Wahab is excellent as the mother. The siblings and wife are edited out of the script for pace and drama, and Boman Irani leaves a quiet impact as Tata. Suresh Oberoi is adequate as the sadhu in the Himalayas, but it is Manoj Joshi as Amit Shah who cuts a sorry figure in every day, starting with the physical. Here was a role that craved for Saurabh Shukla, starting with the physical!
The music is in sync with the times, completely forgettable. Technically, the film flounders majorly in the scenes at Modi’s home, as yet shown not powered by electricity, where the lighting is too dark, and we can barely see clearly – I watched the film late in a non-luxurious single-screen.
Having said that, it is the same old story among critics: their total disconnect with the audiences in political matters. They ran down “The Tashkent Files,” they ran down even “URI: The Surgical Strikes” and the people decided to ignore their prejudices. If “PM Narendra Modi” does average rather than great business, it will be because of the film’s shortcomings and certainly not for its intentions.
For the real, Modi post-release is bigger than Modi before May 23, and people are bound to find this a passable and ordinary fare about an extraordinary man, made by a filmmaker who has not really contributed directorially to cinema other than in his debut film, “Mary Kom,” which in any case scored high on an unknown story of triumph and a whopper actress in Priyanka Chopra.