Rudra Productions (UK), Bohra Bros. and Pen Audio present “The Accidental Prime Minister”
Produced by: Sunil Bohra & Dhaval Gada
Directed by: Vijay Ratnakar Gutte
Written by: Sanjaya Baru, Mayank Tewari, Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, Karl Dunne & Aditya Sinha
Music: Sudip Roy & Sadhu Tiwari
Starring: Akshaye Khanna, Anupam Kher, Aahana Kumra, Suzanne Bernert, Vipin Sharma, Divya Seth, Ram Avtar Bharadwaj, Vimal Verma, Avter Saini, Anil Rastogi, Ajit Satbhai, Shiv Subrahmanyam, Sunil Kothari, Prakash Belawadi (and others
“The Accidental Prime Minister” has fleeting moments that remind us of the TV classic “Yes Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister.” That apart, the docu-drama falls pretty flat as a loyal screen version of the totally dissimilar book (from the above British classic novels on which the two telefilm series were based) of the same name by Sanjaya Baru. It offers nothing by way of entertainment.
In the way it narrates the tale of former PM Manmohan Singh, we are compelled to conclude that the man was and is completely honest and is, so to speak, the right man in the wrong party. The book was released in early 2014, weeks before his party was decimated at the polls. It categorically blames the Gandhi family and their sycophantic party men, not just for the scams and corruption but also for the way Dr. Singh (Anupam Kher) was dominated at every step.
The film is narrated by Dr. Singh’s media advisor Baru (played by Akshaye Khanna) who makes him assert his identity and position up to a point. It is said to be a faithful reproduction of what is said in the book, which over the last five years, has never been challenged by anyone.
What is interesting to note is that any insinuation that the film has been made with an agenda is neutralized by two key factors: one, that the book was released even before anyone knew how the Congress and its partners would fare in 2014 – and the film faithfully follows the book; and two, by the fact that no has pointed out a single specific inaccuracy in its narration.
As a film, however, its construction leaves much to be desired. Like the far more riveting fictional 2018 film “Baazaar,” it assumes that the audience knows too much of the subject: key sequences are incomprehensible, and there seems to be no link between the chain of events at many points. The entertainment factor is almost zero, as no sequence is dramatized, and the occasional jump between reel and real footage is jerky and pointless.
Credit where due: the actors have been carefully chosen to resemble the real-life characters in many cases, as by way of performances, most do not have much to do anyway. The production design (Paul Rowan and Tarpan Shrivastava) and make-up (Shrikanth Desai) are of high order. The background score (Abhijit Vaghani) often tends to be intrusive. The single song is of no consequence. Sachin Krishn’s cinematography is neat, and the VFX fluctuates between good to a shade disappointing in some sequences like Singh’s reminiscences of his early days.
That the film rests mainly on the shoulders of Anupam Kher as Dr. Singh and Akshaye Khanna as Sanjaya Baru is a given. While Baru is excellently underplayed by Khanna, Kher is astounding, complete with expressions, voice and body language as Dr. Singh. Suzanne Bernert as Sonia Gandhi and Divya Seth as Dr. Singh’s wife make a good impression. The rest have really nothing to do or are competent.