India elec­tion films get Bol­ly­wood vote Accidental Prime Min­is­ter, PM Naren­dra Modi Uri: The Sur­gi­cal Strike

Some of the lat­est movies are and

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

L-R: The Accidental Prime Min­is­ter, Mumbai, India - Bol­ly­wood film­mak­ers are seeking to cash in on this year’s In­dian gen­eral elec­tion with a host of po­lit­i­cal movies, some of which smack of pro­pa­ganda ac­cord­ing to crit­ics.

The Hindi film in­dus­try has a long tra­di­tion of pro­duc­ing po­lit­i­cally tinged flicks but in­dus­try watch­ers say 2019’s of­fer­ings are more par­ti­san than ever be­fore.

“What we have this year are quite a few films, some of which are biopics, that ap­pear to be un­crit­i­cal and un­abashedly push the agenda of a par­tic­u­lar party, its poli­cies and po­lit­i­cal philoso­phies,” said re­viewer Nan­dini Ram­nath.

The Accidental Prime Min­is­ter and Uri: The Sur­gi­cal Strike are re­leased on Fri­day. Films about the lives of two prom­i­nent politi­cians air later in Jan­uary while a biopic on Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is also in the works.

The sil­ver screen and pol­i­tics have of­ten in­ter­twined in India. Many ac­tors have be­come politi­cians while Bol­ly­wood has not shied away from tack­ling po­lit­i­cal is­sues in its plot­lines.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (Let it be, friends) be­came a cult clas­sic in 1983 for its satir­i­cal take­down of cor­rup­tion while 2010’s Peepli Live was praised for tack­ling the dif­fi­cult sub­ject of farmer sui­cides.

Po­lit­i­cal movies have also fallen foul of the gov­ern­ment. Kissa Kursi Ka (Story of the Chair) and Aandhi (Storm) were both banned by then prime min­is­ter Indira Gandhi in the 1970s.

The for­mer (1977) was viewed as satiris­ing her pol­i­tics while the lat­ter (1975) was al­legedly based on her relationship with her es­tranged hus­band, who died sev­eral years ear­lier.

‘The real and the reel’

Sup­port­ers of Gandhi’s party, Congress, have tried to stir up con­tro­versy around the The Accidental Prime Min­is­ter, hold­ing protests and even go­ing to court, un­suc­cess­fully, to try to block its re­lease.

They claim it por­trays se­nior Congress mem­bers in a bad light and is pro­pa­ganda for Modi and his rul­ing Hindu na­tion­al­ist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - al­le­ga­tions the di­rec­tor de­nies.

The Hindi-lan­guage film sees vet­eran ac­tor Anu­pam Kher, a vo­cal sup­porter of Modi, play the leader’s pre­de­ces­sor Man­mo­han Singh, also of the Congress party, as premier.

It is based on a mem­oir writ­ten by San­jaya Baru, a for­mer ad­vi­sor to Singh.

“This film is not about pol­i­tics but about the relationship be­tween Dr Singh and San­jaya Baru through Baru’s eyes. They are both he­roes of the film. It’s not pro­pa­ganda,” di­rec­tor Vi­jay Gutte told AFP.

Some so­cial me­dia users and film crit­ics have ac­cused Kher of com­i­cally mim­ick­ing Singh’s slow and mea­sured way of walk­ing and talk­ing but the ac­tor be- PM Naren­dra Modi lieves he has cap­tured his man­ner­isms per­fectly.

‘It will take you a lit­tle time to dis­tin­guish be­tween the real and the reel’, Kher tweeted last month when post­ing a photo of Singh along­side one of him­self in char­ac­ter.

‘That is the au­then­tic­ity and the sin­cer­ity one has ap­plied in por­tray­ing #DrMan­mo­hanSingh’, he added.

‘Spread ideas’

Sev­eral movies touch­ing on pol­i­tics were re­leased dur­ing India’s last elec­tion year in 2014, no­tably Youngis­tan and Bhooth­nath Re­turns in which su­per­star Amitabh Bachchan played a ghost run­ning against an evil can­di­date.

Film­mak­ers say it makes good busi­ness sense to re­lease movies with a po­lit­i­cal back­drop in the run-up to an elec­tion while oth­ers may be se­cretly hop­ing that they trans­late into votes as well.

The na­tion­al­is­tic, all-guns­blaz­ing Uri: The Sur­gi­cal Strike which cel­e­brates the In­dian army’s strikes on mil­i­tants in 2016 in re­sponse to a raid that had killed 19 In­dian sol­diers, is likely to be pop­u­lar.

Modi was widely lauded for the op­er­a­tion and the film sees Vicky Kaushal play an army ma­jor in charge of aveng­ing the at­tack - which India blamed on its arch en­emy Pak­istan - on the Uri base.

Thack­eray, a biopic about di­vi­sive Mumbai politi­cian Bal Thack­eray, who died in 2012, is tipped to be a ha­giog­ra­phy de­signed to boost sup­port for the Shiv Sena - a Hindu chau­vin­ist party he led and founded.

A Shiv Sena politi­cian has writ­ten the screen­play of the movie which is sched­uled to hit screens on Jan­uary 25, around what would have been Thack­eray’s 93rd birth­day.

Jan­uary will also see the re­lease of the first of a two-part Tel­ugu-lan­guage biopic on ac­tor-turned Andhra Pradesh politi­cian N.T. Rama Rao.

“... Pop­u­lar cin­ema has emerged as an arena for pro­pa­ganda, with a greater abil­ity to sway opin­ion and spread ideas than other me­dia,” said Ram­nath, a critic for

The Hindi film in­dus­try has a long tra­di­tion of pro­duc­ing po­lit­i­cally tinged flicks but in­dus­try watch­ers say 2019’s of­fer­ings are more par­ti­san than ever be­fore


In­dian ac­tor Suresh Oberoi, pro­ducer Sandip S Singh, Ma­ha­rash­tra Chief Min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis, ac­tor Vivek Oberoi and di­rec­tor Umang Ku­mar pose with posters of the up­com­ing Bol­ly­wood film - a biopic on Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi


Bol­ly­wood ac­tor Anu­pam Kher poses for a picture dur­ing a pro­mo­tional event for the Hindi film in Mumbai

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