Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Vipin Sharma, Suzanne Bernert, Munish Bhardwaj, Arjun Mathur, Aahana Kumra and Divya Seth
Vijay Ratnakar Gutte
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. Karl Marx really summed it up in a few words. However, everyone has a different viewpoint and it should be respected instead of being judgmental from one person's viewpoint about someone who is being judged.
Let's talk of the movie first before judging the script of a so-called biopic. Even more so, since all the incidents portrayed in the movie are relatively fresh in the mind of the audience as Dr. Manomohan Singh's second term ended in 2014. Both the terms of the former Prime Minister are divided into 2 halves of the movie depicting the 2 terms enjoyed or rather borne by Dr. Manmohan Singh.
The movie talks about how he was made the PM in spite of the fact that it was Sonia Gandhi (Suzanne Bernert) who won the elections for the Congress and in turn for the UPA in 2014. Rahul Gandhi (Arjun Mathur) was too young and too immature to hold the important constitutional post and someone who fits the bill perfectly was required to chair the important post. Much to the chagrin of the senior party leaders of Congress, Sonia Gandhi chose Dr. Manmohan Singh (Anupam Kher). Though the storyteller, Sanjaya Baru (Akshaye Khanna) failed to share the reason for this decision by Sonia Gandhi, which the audience would have really appreciated. Probably she or her loyalists wanted a pliable PM who could hold the fort till Rahul would be ready.
However, this was not to be as Dr. Manmohan Singh ruled with an iron hand and his getting the Nuclear deal approved won him many kudos. And the way he stood his ground by offering to resign when the Left parties who were part of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) wanted the Nuclear Deal to be shelved. The Left did quit UPA and Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh saved the day for UPA by supporting the government after they both consulted the then President, Dr. Abdul Kalam Azad as to benefits of the Nuclear deal, if any to India.
The second half of the movie is about how UPA wins the Lok Sabha polls in 2009 despite all odds. And the credit for this historic term went to Dr. Manmohan Singh, and all News channels are shown playing the popular Bollywood number "Singh is King" thus paving the way for the 2nd term for the protagonist. Since Dr. Manmohan Singh turned out to be the hero of 2009 win, again Rahul Gandhi missed the bus. The idea was to hand over the reigns to the Gandhi progeny after a little cooling period. But that was not to be since first Radia Tapes scandal and then Coal Scam took the winds out of Sonia's plans.
So, Dr. Manomhan Singh, the Accidental Prime Minister became the monumental Prime Minister by completing 2 terms.
Coming to the credits, the movie has been smartly directed by having the writer of the book telling the story in first person account. And Akshaye Khanna is quite natural in portraying this role. However, Anupam Kher took the cake and have it too. He played a very difficult role with elan and seem to have worked very hard to copy the looks, gait and dialogue delivery. Though he could have worked a little more on gait.
Sonia Gandhi and Aahana Kumra as Priyanka Gandhi were pretty good in dishing out their respective roles. And even Arjun Mathur as Rahul Gandhi wasn't bad. There are a number of politicians in the movie and the casting director did a decent job as one could easily recognize who's who of them. Even the actors were pretty good in playing their part. A special mention needs to be made for Divya Seth who played the role of the PM's wife as Mrs. Gursharan Kaur.
The first half is very gripping but the flow breaks a lot in the latter half. The script could have been adopted a little better in the second half; and this half seems more of a documentary. There were too many loose ends in the script. May be there was too little a time with the filmmakers to bring home the point. I would have personally preferred a Netflix Original or Amazon Prime series instead of a feature film.
The screenplay could have been better in the second half and watching a Bollywood movie without a song and dance sequence is a refreshing change. The makeup team did an excellent job while working on the looks of the actors. The timely punches keep the movie light and refreshing. The settings were great and the direction of Vijay Ratnakar Gutte is almost flawless.
As a keen enthusiast of keeping a tab on Indian politics, I question the motive behind this movie and even more so since the timing of the release of the book as well as the movie ahead of Lok Sabha polls of 2014 and 2019 respectively. On the face of it, it seems to be highly motivated. Still, this movie must be watched if one has even an iota of interest in Indian politics.