The Accidental Prime Minister: How NOT to Make A Propaganda Film

The five cardinal sins of a propaganda film. 

2 min read

Video Editor: Vishal Kumar


Many have described The Accidental Prime Minister as a ‘political propaganda film’.

Now, let’s go through each of these three words. We can say with reasonable certainty that The Accidental Prime Minister is a film. We can also assert that it is political. But is it propaganda?

Good Question. While it tries hard to be one, it comes across as a sort of a parody of a propaganda film.

Why, though?

Here’s why The Accidental Prime Minister is a lesson in how NOT to make a propaganda film.

Beeping out words and sentences while keeping names unchanged

If you’re taking names of politicians openly, why mute words and sentences then? It comes across more like firing blanks from an AK-47.

Focus on the politics, not on Sanjaya Baru

A major chunk of the film is devoted to Sanjaya Baru’s character played by Akshaye Khanna. His offer to resign is shot in a way more dramatic manner than Manmohan’s offer to resign. The film left me confused. Was it about Baru the hero in the PMO or was it about about Manmohan ‘the fall guy’?

The curious case of the missing Sonia and Rahul Gandhi


A golden rule of propaganda 101 is to flesh out the villain properly. Where were the bad guys ? If the film is meant to portray how Manmohan as PM was constantly undermined by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, they both need to be in more scenes than can be counted on our fingers.

Where’s the BJP?

If you’re trying to vilify one side, then there must be the good guys on the other side as well, right? I mean, who should the people root for otherwise? Except for a Vajpayee here and an Advani there, the film has NO mention of the BJP. Right at the end we see a few seconds of the real hero, by which I mean the real NaMo from his campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Get even more adventurous with facts

A propaganda film never lets facts come in the way of a good story. While the films bends facts and distorts history in a number of places, frankly these come across as half-hearted. If Akbar can lose at the Battle of Haldighati and if Nehru can be blamed for demonetisation then why stop at just dipping your toe in misinformation? Go ahead and dive right in.

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