Movie review: Why 'PM Narendra Modi' is a reel hero

Movie review: Why PM Narendra Modi is a reel hero

The Vivek Oberoi starring biopic depicts Modi as a larger-than-life figure

By Ambica Sachin

Published: Fri 24 May 2019, 1:29 PM

Bollywood has a history of turning ordinary run-of-the mill characters into larger-than-life heroes bestowed with superpowers. So when the National Award-winning filmmaker Omung Kumar (of Mary Kom and Sarbjit fame) directs a biopic on the current Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Damodardas Modi, a figure equally revered and feared across India, it is only natural that it will be heavily dramatised.
As played by Vivek Oberoi, Modi is a complete action hero in PM Narendra Modi - albeit one who disarms opponents with his verbal skills. The very first scene depicts him as a quasi-divine figure worshipped by sadhus (sages) and the common people alike. Flowers are strewn on him, crowds go berserk upon spotting him and his opponents fear him so much that they call in for reinforcements from across the border to defeat him.
PM Narendra Modi is a one-sided, whitewashed story for sure, where the politician is exonerated of all his 'wrong doings' and comes across smelling sweeter than the roses being pruned by a steely Indira Gandhi in her garden.
There is enough action, drama and rhetoric to wow his admirers. Oberoi's portrayal of the politician is spot on, though a bit stiff; there is none of the caricature or disrespect that the other PM of India, Manmohan Singh had to suffer in The Accidental Prime Minister. The choice of Oberoi, to play India's supposedly most 'divisive' leader to date, is perhaps a bit perplexing. Though he has proved his talents in movies like CompanySaathiya and Shootout at Lokhandwala, it has to be admitted that Oberoi doesn't exactly have the selling power at the box office currently. But thankfully the subject he takes on has enough charisma to pull in viewers.
The story of a simple tea seller, who rises to become the prime minister of the world's largest democracy, is no doubt an inspirational tale. And the makers have Bollywood-ised it to the max with the comparison of Modi and Amit Shah's alliance to Jai-Veeru (from Sholay) and in scenes where Modi is seen escaping the police by pretending to be part of a funeral procession as well as calming down a mob and getting them to throw down their swords, through his rhetoric.
Despite the overarching plot (the film has only one mission - to portray Modi as a misunderstood political leader whose only ambition is to serve his country) and the larger-than-life portrayal of a man who is equally vilified and hero-worshipped, and of course, the hyperbole, the movie works, because nowhere in the two-and-a-half hour screening time does it lag. The 2002 Gujarat riots and the Akshardham Temple attack along with a terrorist plot to assassinate Modi ensure there are enough dramatic moments to keep you glued to the screen.
Manoj Doshi as Amit Shah, Zarina Wahab as Modi's mother, Heeraben, Boman Irani in a fleeting, but striking portrayal as Ratan Tata and Kishori Shahane as a steely Indira Gandhi add to the gravitas.
With the real life Modi winning the Lok Sabha elections with a landslide victory, the movie will no doubt do well with his supporters flocking to theatres to watch their hero in all his glory. In the end, PM Narendra Modi is a fanboy's (Omung Kumar and Vivek Oberoi's) tribute to his idol - one which will only add to the nationalistic spirit, that is resurging in India currently.
PM Narendra Modi
Director: Omung Kumar
Cast: Vivek Oberoi, Manoj Joshi, Zarina Wahab, Kishori Shahane, Boman Irani
3 out of 5

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