Modi has won Varanasi. India 2019 too. The Modi-led BJP is looking at its second consecutive Lok Sabha win. And in the theatres, Vivek Oberoi is teaching people the recipe for perfect bed, err, morning tea. The tea with adrak and elaichi and Amul milk that can open your eyes and make you see the Modi wave that India is embracing for the next five years. In Omung Kumar's PM Narendra Modi, the biggest takeaway is this tea straight from a Sanjeev Kapoor show. Everything else is what we've already seen happening in front of us in the past years that the word 'Modi' has been part of our vocabulary.
PM Narendra Modi traces the journey of our Prime Minister from his tea-selling days to his days spent rallying for desh and deshwasi. The film, 'biopic', ends with Modi taking oath as India's Prime Minister after his landslide win in 2014. If only Vivek Oberoi and Co. would have waited a few more days. We could have seen 2019 too. Maybe a sequel is on its way, who knows.
But credit where it is due. Vivek Oberoi couldn't have asked for a better Bollywood comeback. He did not have to act in the film. His impression of Modi is so off point that through the 2-hour-15-minute film, you are constantly comparing him to our Prime Minister and thinking... maybe Modi IS a better actor than Oberoi. At least the Prime Minister speaks his speeches with conviction, can look into people's eyes and promise achchhe din and win the country a second time.
Vivek Oberoi fades in front of Modi the leader. Because when you play a man as in the public eye as Narendra Modi, you need to be bloody sure of your art. Vivek Oberoi does a half-hearted job of playing Modi. He grimaces, makes strange faces and tries expressing himself from behind that beard and moustache, but falls terribly short of playing our man at the Centre. Meanwhile, the number of grey and black hair in his eyebrows keeps fluctuating.
What works in favour of and against PM Narendra Modi the film is that we have seen the Prime Minister rising to power in front of our own eyes. His is a rise that has happened on social media and in rallies that are fresh in public memory, that we are witnessing every single day.
The challenges for director Omung Kumar were many, in that sense. The director, who did a commendable job with Mary Kom, brings the worst of his craft to PM Narendra Modi. Modi's is a story that the entire country is aware of. Taking 'creative liberties' in such a scenario is not exactly a smart thing to do. Perhaps it is. Because decades down the line, when people chance upon this 'biopic' of PM Narendra Modi, it will be THE Modi Story. Who peyntede the leoun, after all.
PM Narendra Modi the film takes its viewer through the best bits of Modi's life. It highlights the struggles of this man, who fought his way from selling tea in train compartments and sleeping in caves to 7, Lok Kalyan Marg. On the way, it caricatures the Opposition, Congress, Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi... and robs Manmohan Singh of his voice altogether. So much so, that Anupam Kher as Singh in The Accidental Prime Minister from earlier this year feels worthy of an Oscar.
In its process of dehumanising everyone else around Modi and his brother-in-arms, a thinly-veiled Amit Shah, PM Narendra Modi the film ends up caricaturing even Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The only character other than Modi and Amit Shah that stands out is that of LK Advani.
Prashant Narayanan tries hard to play the sinister businessman, but ends up as a bumbling apology of a villain. Darshan Kumar is your 'bikaau patrakar' who puts his best foot forward but alas, cannot rise above the mediocre. Boman Irani shines in his short role as Ratan Tata. Zarina Wahab gives her touch to Heeraben, but gives you nothing to write home about. None of the characters stay with you.
Producer Sandip Ssingh, who is credited with the 'story' of PM Narendra Modi, pens a hagiography for our Prime Minister here. (On a side note, Vivek Oberoi should have looked up the meaning of that word earlier. He might just have had an objective viewpoint.) There is not one flaw in our lead character here. Come on, even Narendra Modi the man himself wouldn't want himself to be shown in this unbelievable a manner.
Even the most controversial parts of PM Narendra Modi's life - the Godhra riots - are planted on the Opposition as a way to keep Modi from serving his people. Maybe the makers of PM Narendra Modi the film should have taken their own recipe of the perfect tea a little seriously: add just a bit of sugar. Because when you have too much sugar, the tea is inedible.