PM Narendra Modi Hindi Movie Review
Have you ever visited your nearest cinema hall and walked out only a shell of the person you were before you entered? Have you ever just sat back in your seat in the theatre, staring up at the screen and letting the audio visuals wash all over you, helpless to resist or rebel or be indignant at the shameless propaganda being flung at you like poop in the hands of excitable monkeys? Has your job ever been as hard as sitting through over two hours of PM Narendra Modi - The Muviiii screaming from the rooftops about our great leader?
The answers to these questions may vary depending on your political affiliations. In this regard, director Omung Kumar B's "film" is a true reflection of the times we live in, in which the authenticity of "facts" and the quality of cinema is decided not by truth and objectivity but a blind faith in God-like figures who can do no wrong, common sense be damned. And the screenplay (if it was ever actually written) takes this sentiment way too seriously.
At least nobody can accuse Kumar and writers Anirudh Chawla and Vivek Oberoi of ever being too subtle to get its point across. The film, which begins with the longest disclaimer about "facts" in the history of Indian cinema and is followed by tri-colored opening credits, lays its cards open within the first few lines of dialogue delivered by a narrator who can barely contain his Hindutva pride as he equates Modi's story to the story of our nation (are the producers of "Bharat" watching?) and declares Modi as a wind of change that would go on to shake the nation's corrupt, all of this before DoP Sunita Radia's comically extravagant camera movements can even fully establish our great leader's massive 56-inch heaving chest.
Oberoi, who serves double-duty as the film's star decked up in laughably bad prosthetics, makeup and wigs, does some of the best hamming of his career in whitewashing every notable event in our great leader's political career, which begins from serving tea at a railway station as a kid to becoming the nation's prime minister. Every single finger that has ever been pointed at Shri Modi's character is swatted away scoffingly over the duration of this 130 minute long political speech that the producers would like to call a film.
Insensitive towards women's rights? Watch Modi deliver a straight-faced speech about the botch on humankind that is the dowry system. A CM catering to just the rich? Watch him digging the Earth under the burning sun to make a new water pond for the underprivileged. Orchestrator of the Gujarat riots? Opposition ploy to take him and his hatred for corruption down. Biased against Muslims? Hard to allege that when Muslims come up to Oberoi-Modi and calling him their savior. Employing the national army as his personal toys? Not when he singlehandedly plants the national flag in Kashmir, risking flying bullets and leaving even the army behind.
In fact, if the film had managed to release before the elections as planned, it would've saved PM Modi's throat a lot of effort, as the film addresses every single allegation ever laid against him and counters it with flag-saluting and word twisting to the point that you'd forget what the point was in the first place. Oberoi and Chawla's screenplay doesn't tell a story as much as a series of unverifiable medal-worthy actions. And yet, by the end we're not a step closer to understanding the man or his motivations, only his actions. The editing by Sanjay Sankla compounds this problem further, cutting abruptly from one sequence to the next without any breathing room or context of passage of time, with only the text at the bottom left of the screen as an indicator that years have passed between scenes.
All this would still be some degree of tolerable if all the whitewashing and manipulations were to lift the prestige of the nation. Alas, any and all of what we see benefits one man and one man only. By the time the last 20 minutes of the film arrive, Kumar completely abandons all pretence that he was ever attempting to make Cinema here. As Modi begins campaigning for the 2014 elections, Oberoi might as well be looking into the camera as his disembodied-sounding voice (poor dubbing and sound mixing) hits back at his detractors' every claim against him, this time in actual words rather than actions. He's critic proof, Muslim-proof and by the end, even ISI bomb-proof. Except there are no proofs to any of this.
The film rolls into theaters exactly a day after a landslide victory for a second round in the Delhi office for our beloved great leader Narendra Modi aka NaMo. With a "biopic" on him turning out to be a stinking pile of half-truths and dictatorial propaganda, PM Narendra Modi - The Muuuviiii couldn't be a better indicator of the shape of things to come.