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Accidental Prime Minister Movie Review: Nothing Accidental About It

Subhash K . Jha

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The Accidental Prime Minister

Starring Anupam Kher,Akshaye Khanna

Directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte

Rating: ***(3 stars)

If you enjoy political satires, The Accidental  Prime Minister may not be the  film that its makers would recommend for you. Outwardly,  the intent and purpose of this  fiercely  political parable is to give us  the “real” picture  of former  Prime MinisterManmohan Singh’s parent party and how it manipulated him into fronting their dynastic designs.

And how  much  more real can it get than Anupam Kher as  Mr Singh?! The beard,the turban ,the soft  hushed barely audible voice(make sure you get  your seats in a Dolby equipped theatre)…Kher gets the externals so  right that we  scarcely care about what lies beneath.

And what lies!  If we are to believe  this  film, then Manmohan Singh  was a baba in the woods, an  angel in disguise, a scholar and academician thrown into the cesspit of  politics, manipulated  into supporting the  Congress monarchy  by  a scheming  mother-son pair. And we  all know who they are, giggle giggle.

There is nothing accidental  about The   Accidental  Prime Minister. The  not-so-hidden agenda is to show Mrs Sonia Gandhi and her two children in the worst  light possible.And it can’t get any worse than Suzanne Bernert as Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Suzanne arches her eyebrows so sharply I  feared  for her facial wellbeing.

Every actor cast as  real-life politicians  has been given  a clear brief to look as  much as  the  real-life politician as  possible. The line between  acting and mimicry is invisible  in the politics that underlines this  political charade. In the theatre  I heard delighted  exclamations of recognition, the  kind we hear when a standup comedian does  a Bachchan  or a Shatrughan Sinhaon stage.

 If  you want  to play spot-the-politician, this  film is huge fun. My top prize for  the  most enjoyable mimicry  goes to the talented Arjun Mathur and Ahana Kumra as  Rahul and Sonia Gandhi. If  ever the real Gandhi siblings need duplicates while they  holiday  abroad they know where to  go.

The  only actor not doing an  impersonation is Akshaye Khanna.Playing Sanjaya Baru, Khanna brings to the proceedings  a gravitas that  this film doesn’t need or deserve. He is like that one honest  bureaucrat  in the office filled with  bribe takers. But he has  his uses.

 Khanna and Kher anchor the  plot(and I am  not talking about just the screenplay but the plot that underlines  the  raisond’etre  of this film).Their  exchanges exhibit sparks  of  unexpected  irony and intelligence , as if two actors  recognize the potential in each other knowing fully well their collective wisdom is unsupported by anything else around them.

Anupam Kher and Akshaye Khanna  make the  hullabaloo  over  Singh and the Gandhis look more tenable than  it would have without them.The Accidental Prime Minister works well as a panto mine  of  power  politics.Beyond that, we will have to wait for another day, another time, another regime.

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