In one of the scenes in Vijay Gutte's The Accidental Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh (Anupam Kher) asks his media advisor Sanjaya Baru (Akshaye Khanna) why he's doing so much of drama. Well, that's exactly the thought which goes through your mind while watching this film based on Baru's memoir on the former Prime Minister by the same name.
The film opens with the victory of Congress party in 2004 elections under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi (Suzanne Burnert). While her advisors want her to assume office as PM, she decides to step aside and nominates economist Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister instead. From thereon, we get a closer look at what happened behind the doors through Baru's eyes where he describes how Manmohan Singh was consistently undermined by Sonia Gandhi and her loyal group of leaders during his ten-year tenure in the UPA government.
The first half of the film is a light-hearted take on the power-play in the world of politics and how Manmohan Singh tries to tackle every challenge with the aide of Sanjaya Baru who advises him on the mechanics of building image and writes speeches for him.
Post interval, things take a sobre turn where Baru talks about how Mr Singh's silence, his loyalty to the Party President and 'hereditary succession' made him a subject of mockery. Later, he became a soft-target when he turned a blind eye to corruption by his colleagues (2G scam, Coalgate scam) as he expected the Party President to deal with the black sheep in the UPA-2 government. This turned out to be his fatal error of judgement.
Finally when Manmohan Singh declared his departure as the Prime Minister in a 2014 press conference, his words were, " I hope history will be kinder to me than the contemporary media."
Vijay Gutte's direction is inconsistent and the writing too lacks depth with the sloppy screenplay running all over the place. Instead of 'humanizing' Manmohan Singh so that the audience can connect with his emotions, the film turns out to be a mockery of sorts with its characters simply reduced to caricatures.
Speaking about the performances, Anupam Kher shines throughout and internalises Manmohan Singh's body language perfectly. Right from his gait to his whispered talks, the veteran actor pulls off a commendable job.
While Akshaye Khanna as the narrator looks smart in his tailored-suits, the constant smirk on his face throughout the film leaves you wondering about the reason for the same. Suzanne Burnert looks, speaks and even expresses like Sonia Gandhi and her uncanny resemblance adds to the perfect casting.
Aahana Kumra as Priyanka Gandhi barely gets a scene or two. Arjun Mathur as Rahul Gandhi is convincing.
The camera-work of the film has nothing new to offer while the editing slips out of the place in few shots. The jarring background music plays a major spoilsport and hampers the narrative.
There's a dialogue in the film where Anupam Kher's Manmohan Singh says, "Mujhe koi credit nahi chahiye, mujhe apne kaam se matlab hai kyunki mere liye desh pehle aata hai." Well in the film, it's Akshaye Khanna's Sanjaya Baru who grabs the spotlight from Singh as he is portrayed as the key player in all the important moments. Maybe, Baru's writing is got to be blamed for this! I am going with 2 stars.