PM Narendra Modi movie review: An unabashed hagiography


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VBSPU result 2019: How to download UG/PG exam results? As a bio-pic, it inhabits muddled, post-truth territory. The PM Narendra Modi biopic, called, what else, ‘PM Narendra Modi’, comes out the day the BJP celebrates its historic mandate to rule India for a second consecutive term. As a hagiography though, genuflecting at the altar of the man, it’s perfect. The Vivek Oberoi starrer wasn’t allowed to be released during the elections, but no matter, it’s here now, and doubtless, the faithful will flock to it, bathed in joy and delirium, chanting, along with film, Modi, Modiiiiii, Modi, Modiiiiii. 0
Comment(s) It takes its cautionary note (which unspools in the opening credits) about taking creative liberties very seriously indeed. The Opposition is shown as weak and venal (Manmohan Singh doesn’t have a single speaking moment, only keeping ‘maun’); a corrupt businessman (Narayanan) is shown in cahoots with a complicit journalist (Kumar) as they plot Modi’s downfall; Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and their cohorts come off as ineffective hand-wringers. What else could it be? The film is not a mere bio-pic, it is a full-fledged, unabashed, unapologetic hagiography. Boman Irani as the legendary Parsi industrialist who brought Tata Motors to Gujarat, having exited Bengal, comes off more visible than the former Prime Minister who had such a big hand in Modi being able to get to where he finally did. Those who’ve lived through the times that ‘Jai’ Modi was growing up, and creating a space for himself in the political firmament, with the help of his ‘Veeru’, Amit Shah (Joshi; this ‘Jai-Veeru’ coupling comes up as a special mention in the film, I kid you not) may wonder if there is an alternative universe that he inhabits. It’s uncritical, unquestioning, high on rhetoric. Hardly a frame passes by without the leading man dominating the screen, which pretty much reflects what’s happened in real life in the past five years. Advertising

Those who have swallowed the myth-making whole will watch the film as a reaffirmation of their faith. Because there’s nothing else to do: the film makes sure that it is, in every moment, properly in awe of its subject, man and boy, as it tracks Narendra Damadordas Modi’s astonishing trajectory from a ‘chai-wala’s (Gupta) son, to a ‘pracharak’ of the RSS, to his rise and rise, in Gujarat, and then on the national stage, ending with his taking the oath in 2014. In keeping with its tone and tenor, it is completely reverential towards its subject, projecting him as noble and sacrificial and wise beyond his years even when very young, whose love for his own ‘ba’ (Wahab) is never more than the love he has for Bharat Mata. After a point you stop counting. And there’s nothing accidental about it. Advertising

Sometimes the arrival of a film in theaters becomes a marker. Of course, there’s not a single subtle note in the two hour and some running time: everything is underlined in such lines as ‘ Violence has no religion and religion has no violence’; ‘chai bechta tha, unki tarah desh nahin’, ‘baap ka naam nahin, buss aap ka kaam’, and this one, which trumps all, ‘Modi ek soch hai ; aap sab mein hai Modi’. As Modi, Oberoi is told early in the movie – ‘aapko abhineta nahin, neta hona chahiya tha’—and he then proceeds to read faithfully off a lax, mediocre script. Even his own party colleagues, except perhaps for Vajpayee, are ciphers, as he cuts an inexorable swathe towards the top post. Here’s where reel and real intersect. And who cares for the disbelievers, as they collect their jaws from the floor as the film goes from one white-wash to another: that as a young man, Modi walked out of a potential marital alliance and went to the Himalayas to do ‘tapasya’; that the post-Godhra riots couldn’t be controlled because the ‘neighbouring states’ didn’t ‘help’; that messiah Modi was a ‘secular’ helper during the earthquake relief operations; and so, and on. There’s no mention of ‘hindutva’, only ‘Hinduism’ which is also, as he helpfully points out, a ‘soch’. The film offers up no debatable points, no what-ifs, no grey areas.