‘PM Narendra Modi’ Trailer Review: Delusion of Grandeur on Screen
The trailer of the much awaited biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi is out and it’s disappointingly everything that you expected it to be - an unabashed, reverential PR exercise to amplify Modi’s image as a man who can do no wrong. The fact that a functioning PM would allow such an ego massage of a film to be made on him only betrays his delusion of grandeur, self-obsession and megalomania.
Imaginatively titled PM Narendra Modi (yes, that’s sarcasm), this film “based on true events” is directed by Omung Kumar, the man behind Mary Kom, Sarbjit and Bhoomi.
For bhakts, this film is no less than India’s answer to every superhero in the Marvel cinematic universe with actor Vivek Oberoi as Narendra Modi portrayed as a man who has given up everything in his zeal to serve the nation, which is basically an extension of Modi’s everyday covert PR and marketing strategy, that’s pushed down the public’s throat via social media, news channels, radio shows and photo-ops.
The Chaiwala to PM Gimmick
The trailer begins with Modi’s oft repeated but still popular chaiwala to Prime Minister narrative. “Ek mamooli chaiwala iss desh ka PM banega?” mocks a voice - and the visual transforms to Vivek Oberoi as PM Modi greeting a crowd that’s chanting “Modi! Modi!”. Everyone loves a rags to riches success story, and the Modi biopic seems to play on this by delving into Narendra Modi’s backstory of being a chaiwala. That there is no official record of Modi having been a chaiwala, is of course of little value here. So we have an earnest little “Naru” selling tea and saluting the tiranga, because as the film’s tagline goes “Deshbhakti hi meri shakti hai” .
A Double Dose of Deshbhakti
“Why do you salute the flag?” asks one of Bal Narendra’s classmates, “Why do you bend with folded hands in front of a temple?” retorts the young deshbhakt - thereby, making it clear right on top that for Mr Modi - the nation is as important (if not more) as his religious beliefs. “Jo desh ko chahte hain, woh aur kuch nahin chahte” - is the second line uttered by a young Oberoi as Modi, which again establishes his credentials as an unquestionable patriot, thereby giving him a free hand to do whatever else he does in the rest of the film.
As per the trailer, after roaming the mountains, valleys and jungles of India in his quest to becoming a sanyasi, Modi finally lands up in a RSS shakha, does his khaki shorts and saffron flags routine and then goes on to play a crucial role as an underground rebel disguised as a sardar, during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule.
A Messiah Against Terrorism
“Hindustan aatank se nahin, aatank Hindustan se darega” yells Vivek Oberoi playing a young bearded Modi, as he carries the Indian flag across a bridge flanked by army personnel. Is this a sequence that depicts the instance of Modi unfurling the national flag at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk? The same Ekta Yatra, which was led by then BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, and of which Modi was just one of the several party workers who accompanied Joshi? Today, Modi takes full credit for the yatra and Joshi’s leadership during the event is now being systematically wiped out from public memory.
That Modi is India’s answer to Pakistan sponsored terrorism is a theme that keeps recurring throughout the trailer. This biopic on Modi may end with a climax that throws the same pitch because at the end of the day, what else can they claim as a significant achievement during Modi’s 5 year rule? So, we have Modi as Gujarat’s CM standing firm and stating that he won’t leave the temple complex till everyone is safe during the terrorist attack on the Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar in 2002.
“Chetavani deta hoon main Pakistan ko, agar dobaara hum par haath uthaya, toh haath kaat doonga,” declares Modi by the end of the trailer, as if he’s in a 80’s Bollywood potboiler and this is exactly where the makers of the biopic hope the Indian audience will stand up, whistle and cheer.
The Riot Act
The trailer is also laced with as yet “unseen” footage of Modi helping victims of what seems to be the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat. “Mera Gujarat jal raha hai,” cries a (cough!) helpless CM Modi as he looks around him and watches his state literally burning during the riots of 2002. So, that’s a three-day communal riot which left almost 2,000 people dead due to the state government’s apathy conveniently explained while you dig in to your tub of buttered popcorn.
It’s no surprise that the Narendra Modi biopic is what it is - a two-hour long hagiography of Modi that shamelessly aims at projecting him as a superhero just before the general elections in April 2019. You can bet the film won’t be talking about the alarming unemployment rate under Modi’s rule, or the growth in militancy in Kashmir, the lynching of minorities, the violence against Dalits, the weakening of the rupee, the skyrocketing petrol prices, the slowing down of the economy post-demonetisation, the rampant tampering with institutions such as the RBI and CBI, the historic presser by the 4 Supreme Court judges, the muzzling of the news media, the controversial Rafale deal or other critical events that put Modi in a spot. We’ll wait for an actual film based on real events for that.
This, if anything at all, is an embarrassingly mediocre attempt to whitewash the image of an incompetent Prime Minister. Stop equating Narendra Modi with the nation. ‘Satyamev Jayate’ (Truth Alone Triumphs) is India’s national motto, and equating a PM who regularly speaks half-truths and lies to the nation will certainly be a disservice to this great country.