The Accidental Prime Minister: Film Review – Singh for the Moment

Verdict: The Accidental Prime Minister is a fresh take on films about politics and politicians.

A lot of time has passed since The Accidental Prime Minister was announced and we have waited for it ever since. The film has kept the rumor mills busy about issues regarding censorship and political involvement in the film. However, a few bleeps and a couple of controversies later, the film has (finally) released. The Accidental Prime Minister stars Anupam Kher and Akshaye Khanna in lead roles and supported by Suzanne Bernert and Arjun Mathur. It’s based on Sanjaya Baru’s book The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh. Sanjaya Baru was Dr. Manmohan Singh’s media adviser from 2004 through 2008.

What’s The Accidental Prime Minister About:

When the UPA won the elections in 2004, few would’ve guessed that a mild-mannered (brilliant) economist and a former Finance Minister would assume the position of the nation’s Prime Minister. When Dr. Manmohan Singh (Anupam Kher) steps into the PMO, he asks for his old comrade Sanjaya Baru (Akshaye Khanna), the editor of Financial Express at the time, to serve as his media adviser. Baru has always loved and respected Dr. Singh immensely and is immediately on board. However, he insists that he will directly and only report to the PM himself. While in the PMO, Baru makes a lot of observations about the party’s and thereby Sonia Gandhi’s equation with Dr. Manmohan Singh. The Accidental Prime Minister is Baru’s commentary about the workings of Congress through his years at the PMO, media’s portrayal of Dr. Singh and Baru’s own perception of him.

What Works:

Movies with sensitive topics are tricky, especially films based on political figures; a slight misstep and the film gets labelled as a propaganda film. Now to come to your question – is The Accidental Prime Minister a propaganda film? Well, it doesn’t appear to be so. Baru’s commentary seems to come from his own deductions and is matter of fact. The script is tight and despite the heavy-ish topic, the narrative is light and pleasant, funny even. Akshaye Khanna’s charm is unmistakable, whether he is breaking the fourth wall or is in a scene. Anupam Kher has embodied the soft-spoken and yet dignified Dr. Manmohan Singh. While he subtly expresses the PM’s state of mind in the awkward circumstances, he also lets us know that Dr. Singh was funny in his own way. The dialogues are witty enough to hold your attention at all times. We tip our hat to the team involved in scouting the indoor locations and to the casting team. Those locations made us believe that we were stepping into the PMO. Director Vijay Gutte and writers Hansal Mehta and Mayank Tewari give us a different film about politics.

What Could’ve Been Better:

A few dialogues have been edited out which leaves us guessing about what we’re missing out on.

Why You Should Watch:

If you take even the slightest interest in politics, book for The Accidental Prime Minister now. It is a film that takes you through an important era in Indian politics and is also entertaining. It’s a crisp film and stands at a runtime of under two hours. Akshaye Khanna and Anupam Kher have done a fabulous job and make the film worth a watch.

Pooja Pande: Cats, memes, lists, and Oxford commas.