Film On Former Indian Prime Minister Stirs Up A Hornet’s Nest

James Kirk
Author James Kirk
Collection Movies

Former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh spent one of the longest tenures in the office and brought about several major economic reforms during his time. But critics say a new Bollywood biopic before a general election reduces him to a political caricature.

In the movie, “The Accidental Prime Minister,” Manmohan Singh sits in a garishly decorated office. He looks bemused when he takes instructions from Sonia Gandhi, then president of the Congress party, which was in power at the time.

The film, critics say, could have been an engaging study of the career of one of India's most enigmatic leaders.

Instead, many see it as a hatchet job on Singh and Congress. One called it a "bad propaganda film," reports the BBC.

Actor Anupam Kher, who plays Singh, says the filmmakers "worked hard to make a big epic homage to a man, scholar and politician, who is misunderstood, or rather hardly understood."

That evaluation of Singh as barely understood isn’t inaccurate.

However, few agree the film, based on the memoirs of Singh's media adviser Sanjaya Baru, does him justice. According to one critic, the biopic shows no sympathy toward Singh or highlight his many qualities.

Akshaye Khanna, the actor who plays Baru, has put up a balanced defense of “The Accidental Prime Minister.”

"If you make an authentic political film, which talks of real people and real events, in a politically conscious country like India, it is but natural that people will react to it in different ways and there will be a collage of opinions," he says.

As Khanna says, it's only a film, not a catastrophic or earth-shattering event, so it's perhaps best to take the film at its face value.

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