Bollywood lines up movies on political subjects: How this will add spice to 2019's electioneering

How much can reel-life portrayals influence real-life politics? Let’s wait and watch.

 |  3-minute read |   09-01-2019
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In the run-up to the 2019 General Elections, several Bollywood movies are set to add an element of spice — if not melodrama — to the electioneering.

And there’s nothing ‘accidental’ about this unusual development taking place in an election year.

A biopic on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — The Accidental Prime Minister — is ready to hit the screens. The same holds true for Uri –The Surgical Strike, a movie based on the surgical strike carried out by the Indian Army on terror camps across the Line of Control.

The Accidental Prime Minister has already led to quite a furore. Has The Accidental Prime Minister deliberately caused a lot of drama? (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)

Thackeray, a bilingual biopic on the life of Bal Thackeray, the founder of Shiv Sena, is also likely to be released soon. In a state like Maharashtra, where Sena mouthpiece Saamana often impacts regional political sentiments, the movie is bound to boost the party’s image ahead of the elections.

But then, an even bigger entertainer is on the cards — the biopic titled PM Narendra Modi.

Director Omung Kumar, who, in the past, has directed biographical dramas like Mary Kom and Sarbjit, is now helming the project on PM Modi. Interestingly, this film is also expected to release before the Lok Sabha elections.

Well, the iconic rise of Modi and his unmistakable charisma genuinely deserve a biopic. After all, his life is an inspirational story of a tea-seller who worked hard to emerge as a very powerful Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy.

For that matter, Modi is among the few politicians of post-independence India whose individual influence grew larger than the institutional image of the party. Had that not been the case, the popular slogan of ‘Modi sarkaar’ wouldn’t have overshadowed the idea of a ‘BJP sarkaar’ in 2014.

This is a story that definitely deserves a movie.  This is a story that definitely deserves a movie. (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)

But the timing of these movies, paacked with political potential, suggests that it’s more a strategy to attract votes — not just cinema audiences.

And the trend is not new.

In 2017, two such movies were released — Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Indu Sarkar.

While the comedy-drama Toilet seemed inspired by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Indu Sarkar focused on ‘old wounds’— the emergency imposed by the Congress from 1975 to 1977. Those two years were indeed a dark spot on Indira Gandhi’s otherwise iconic era, spanning over 14 long years of her strong governance.

But then, this movie game has a lot of potential.  

The mere trailer of The Accidental Prime Minister, coupled with interviews given by its lead actor Anupam Kher, has been enough to stoke a controversy. Some critics call it a ‘pro-BJP’ and ‘anti-Congress’ film. If the movie truly is what its critics believe it to be, then multiplexes seem to be the new platform for politics.

And then, we have the Congress president — Rahul, ‘naam to suna hoga!

Rahul Gandhi’s political moves are often called ‘theatrics’ by his critics — even more so since his accidental (or maybe intentional) wink soon after hugging PM Modi in Parliament.

The Congress President is quite filmy even in real life. The Congress president can be quite filmy even in real life. (Photo: screengrab)

If these movies end up cornering the Congress, in the future, Rahul Gandhi may play even wittier.

You never know, he could come up with suggestions for movies — Vikas – The Development, Lagaan –The GST , Notebandi – The Demonetisation.

But can reel-life portrayals influence real-life politics?

Well, at a time when the Indian Army and the defence ministry continue to maintain strategic secrecy on the way the surgical strikes were carried out, audience acceptance to movies on such sensitive subjects would be debatable.

A biopic on Modi ahead of the Lok Sabha elections is like putting his ‘undefeatable’ image to a screen test. Indeed, to borrow from the Salman Khan-starrer Sultan, for millions of Modi fans, “Modi ko sirf ek hi aadmi hara sake hai, woh hai Modi khud" (The only man who can defeat Modi is Modi himself).

Movies or no movies, 2019 is essentially about the test of Modi’s undefeatable image.

Will the PM live up to this image?

Well, let’s wait and watch!

Also read: Why Narendra Modi, not Manmohan Singh, is the real accidental Prime Minister


Majid Hyderi Majid Hyderi @majidhyderi

The writer is a journalist based in Kashmir.

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