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A game changer film

A game changer film
January 03
16:12 2019

MUMBAI: Veteran actor Anupam Kher, who is essaying the role of former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in “The Accidental Prime Minister”, says the film is a “game changer” in political biopics as it does not shy away from taking real names.
The film is based on the book of the same name, written by Sanjay Baru, who served as Singh’s media advisor 2004 to 2008. Akshaye Khanna features as Baru.
The trailer shows Singh as victim of the inside politics of the Congress party ahead of 2014 general elections, which the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) lost.
Asked if the ruling BJP government, which lost three state elections recently to Congress, would use the film as a tool in the run-up for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Kher said, “If I would have been in politics I would have definitely told them to do so. But I am an actor, they will decide.”

We did not start the film thinking that this kind of political scenario will be there. It is a political film based on a book, whatever the book has said we have tried to make that,” he added.
Kher said the film is open to interpretations and it would be wrong to say that it supports or criticizes a particular political party.
“There will be different kinds of interpretations and one can have one’s own interpretation. People release patriotic films during Independence Day or Republic Day. This is a political film and we would like to release it in the election time. What is the problem in that?” he said at the trailer launch of the film.
The actor, who has been a vocal supporter of BJP, said he does not need to harbor political ambitions to voice his concerns about the country.

“I don’t need to have political ambitions to talk about my country as people think either he is bhakt (devotee) of a party or bika hua hai (he is a sell-out). I have the right to talk about the country. If that goes in favor of some party; that is a different issue. Unfortunately, when you speak about politics in our country people think you have political ambition.”
Kher said he was initially reluctant to play the role. “My first thought was I should not be part of the film. I was thinking this will be political film and it is not easy to portray Mr Manmohan Singh as he is there in the current political circle. I initially didn’t want to do the film,” he said.


The actor revealed his wife, actor-BJP MP Kirron Kher suggested to him to “be” Singh and not “act out”.

“That ‘be’ is important and it is not easy to portray him. It is easy for a character to become caricaturish. I was constantly walking on a razor’s edge. Our director Vijay is a good criticizer, he is difficult to please.”
Describing Singh as a shy person, Kher said, he was “not a trained politician”.
“He was an economist brought in as a finance secretary and then finance minister and then he became the prime minister; that is how he was the Accidental Prime Minister. I like his sense of humor as recently he said he was not only an accidental Prime Minister but accidental Finance Minister as well.”

Kher said Singh, who was often criticized as a “silent prime minister” during his tenure, is more vocal now.
When asked whether he is worried about the controversial story of the film, Kher said, “Let’s not anticipate things. Those were controversial times. Let’s not run away from them. Whatever be the fate of the film, this film is a game changer in the political space of Indian filmmaking.
“We have been able to take the names for the first time. We have gone into the PMO for the first time, there is no fakeness. You have real people, real offices and real etiquettes. The art and costume departments have done a great job,” he added.
Directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, the film is slated to be released on January 11.

How Kher prepared for the film

Anupam Kher says the role of Dr.Manmohan Singh challenged him as an actor. “One day, I saw Dr. Manmohan Singh walking from one place to another on the television. So, the actor inside me told me if I could walk like him. But I was a disaster. That challenged me. I rehearsed his walk for 45 minutes but I couldn’t get it right so, I called the makers for the narration of the script and I was very fascinated by it.

I feel everything is difficult about Dr Manmohan Singh. He has very monotonous voice and yet there has to be variations then, I said yes to the makers of the film.”

Talking about preparations he did to play role of Dr Manmohan Singh, Kher said, and “I took about 6-7 months to prepare this role. I must have seen at least 100 hours of footage but the most difficult was the voice part of it because he has a typical voice. Then I told myself that if your work is not challenging then, what’s the benefit to do it?

“We did the first schedule in England of 40 days and during that time, we were in a secluded place. It used to take one-and-a-half hours to look like Dr. Manmohan Singh. I feel it’s the most difficult role I have done in my life because Dr. Manmohan Singh is known by everybody and even today, he is so active. He is more vocal now than he was in year 2014.”

Controversy over trailer

The former Prime Minister himself has refused to be drawn into the controversy over the film, which has sparked a row over the alleged distortion of facts. The trailer of the film shows Singh as the victim of the inside politics in Congress ahead of the 2014 general elections, in which the party was reduced to a record low tally.
Many in the Congress have raised objections over the “incorrect presentation of facts” in the trailer, while the BJP has praised it as a “riveting tale of how a family held the country to ransom for 10 long years”.
The three-minute long trailer takes numerous potshots at Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, Priyanka and others from the Gandhi family. “Mahabharat mein do families thi. India mein toh ek hi hai (The Mahabharat had two families. India has only one),” the trailer begins, setting the tone for the film and a political slugfest.
Political posturing aside, many people noted the striking resemblance of Kher to the former PM, with the actor having assumed Singh’s looks, style of speech, and even mannerisms to an uncanny degree.

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