The un­happy ge­nius and pup­pet prime min­is­ter

DNA (Delhi) - - FRONT PAGE - Meena Iyer [email protected]­

Mum­bai: Based on the book The Ac­ci­den­tal Prime Min­is­ter: The Mak­ing and Un­mak­ing of Man­mo­han Singh by po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor and pol­icy an­a­lyst Sanjaya Baru (played by Ak­shaye Khanna), the film is a fic­tion­alised adap­ta­tion of Baru’s time in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice. He was posted there dur­ing Dr Man­mo­han Singh’s (Anu­pam Kher) first term as the PM of the Con­gress-led UPA Gov­ern­ment.

The ‘tell-all’ ac­count is based on his ob­ser­va­tions as Me­dia Ad­vi­sor and Dr Singh’s chief spokesper­son from May 2004 to Au­gust 2008. It also touches upon is­sues such as the Indo-US Nu­clear Deal, Coali­tion Pol­i­tics and the 2G, 3G, CWG (Com­mon­wealth Games) and Coal-gate scams.

For those of us who have ac­tively fol­lowed Dr Singh’s regime, one of In­dia’s most hon­est Prime Min­is­ters, this movie serves up a re­minder of how “un­happy” this fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic whiz was in his chair as the leader of the na­tion. Dr Singh’s throne was strewn with thorns — the main one be­ing So­nia Gandhi, the then Con­gress pres­i­dent, and of course, heir-to-be Rahul Gandhi. Rahul is shown as a po­lit­i­cal novice but his mother, blinded by ma­ter­nal love, is far too am­bi­tious for him. This the ge­nius is re­duced to a pup­pet on a string; a string con­stantly pulled by the power-crazed Gand­his.

Film’s nar­ra­tive doesn’t leave you sa­ti­ated be­cause its pace is un­even. There are a few highs, but there’s also a drab­ness to some of the pro­ceed­ings. The back­ground score ran­kles in the first 15 min­utes, but even­tu­ally set­tles down to be ef­fec­tive.

But TAPM is an im­por­tant watch be­cause it gives us a van­tage-view of dy­nas­tic pol­i­tics, played out by the new-age Gand­his and their syco­phants for whom self of­ten came be­fore the na­tion. The film is likely to be per­ceived as a timely ar­row pulled out of the rul­ing party’s bow be­cause it shows you the ap­a­thy of the fam­ily that ruled In­dia for gen­er­a­tions, with­out ac­tu­ally both­er­ing to ‘hatao garibi’ (erad­i­cate poverty) or bring­ing any note­wor­thy re­forms.

For cin­ema-lovers, the take­away is the pro­fi­ciency of the two key per­form­ers: Anu­pam Kher gets Dr Singh’s (slightly ef­fem­i­nate) walk, meek-man­nered talk and even his in­cred­u­lous voice mod­u­la­tion, down pat. The ac­tor, who must have def­i­nitely stud­ied hours of news­reels fea­tur­ing the coun­try’s most-cel­e­brated Sikh, con­vinces you that you are ac­tu­ally sit­ting across the ex-PM him­self.

Khanna, as the nar­ra­tor, is a com­plete de­light. Of­ten talk­ing di­rectly to the cam­era, Khanna has you lis­ten­ing in­tently to the way things played out be­hind the closed doors of the PMO at a po­lit­i­cally-vul­ner­a­ble stage. Ger­man im­port, Suzanne Bern­ert also gets her So­ni­aact cor­rect.

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