Three Bollywood Biopics Based On Indian Prime Ministers — All Congress Bashers!

All three biopics depicted the Congress leaders as cardboard cut-outs; they are either scheming villains or incompetent buffoons.

Indian biopics in general turn out as reverential portraits where the flaws of a person are mostly hidden or camouflaged. They end up being more of a highlights reel.

This is even more so in the case of movies dwelling on the lives of politicians and those related to the army.

All three movies mentioned in this article have one striking thing in common—Congress bashing.

Congress leaders reduced to cardboard cut-outs

All three biopics, including The Accidental Prime Minister (2019) depict the Congress party as cardboard cut-outs. The Congress characters are either scheming villains or incompetent buffoons.

PM Narendra Modi (2019) was always meant to be a highly respectful portrait and the film did just that.

Director Omung Kumar took many cinematic liberties in presenting Modi as the perfect person.

An example of this cinematic liberty comes in the portions involving the Gujarat riots. He even showcased Narendra Modi as the hero of religious minorities!

This movie also has some Congress characters who seem to have stepped straight out of the sets of The Accidental Prime Minister.

A better biopic

Pankaj Tripathi in ‘Main Atal Hoon’. (X)

The recent addition Main Atal Hoon (2024) is a biopic on Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This film is definitely notches ahead of the other two movies.

Yes, the movie does come across as a highlights reel, particularly in the second half. But at the same time, there is some visible craft.

Director Ravi Jadhav did a good job of showcasing the different stages of Atal’s life.

The USP of Main Atal Hoon was the use of his poems; they come at the right juncture.

The speeches of Atal are another highlight of the film, especially the scene where he expresses anguish about the disturbing events of the emergency.

Ravi Jadhav also did a fine job of showing Atal’s political ideology, which includes wanting peace between India and Pakistan.

One of the early scenes in Main Atal Hoon perfectly establishes how he was the right mixture of calmness and aggression.

Pankaj Tripathi, in the title role, added another feather to his cap. The actor was magnetic and owned the screen.

A subplot featuring Pankaj Tripathi and Piyush Mishra (as Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, the father of Atul) was filled with so much warmth. The father-son scenes are so endearing, with portions of subtle humour.

But here, too, the portrayal of the Congress continues to be caricaturist.

The characterisation of Indira Gandhi, in particular, left a lot to be desired.

Payal Nair, as Indira Gandhi, was blank in her expressions. She had a sullen face throughout.

A clumsy propaganda

Vivek Oberoi in ‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi’. (X)

Now, to The Accidental Prime Minister, which was released much before these two biopics.

It was released during the run-up to the 2019 general elections. As it was also a biopic on Manmohan Singh, the previous PM, one would have naturally expected some good things about his life and deeds.

But even that film was meant to valorise the BJP and downgrade Congress.

Apart from BJP propaganda, another big problem with The Accidental Prime Minister was the clumsy manner in which the role of Manmohan Singh was written and enacted.

Manmohan Singh is a man who has donned multiple hats apart from being the prime minister. He was an economist and academician.

But in the film, he comes across as eternally confused and a puppet figure.

Anupam Kher is an acclaimed actor who has brought many characters to life. But here, he was doing more mimicry with exaggerated hand movements and a stiff voice.

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