Bollywood zooms its lens on politicians
Several new films in Bollywood have been based on the lives of political figures - including Arvind Kejriwal, Bal Thackeray and Dr Manmohan Singh. Another, on late Sanjay Gandhi’s life, is also in the making.bollywood Updated: Jan 08, 2018 16:31 IST
Films with political themes and backdrops are a recurring occurrence in Bollywood, but when it comes to making a movie on the life of a politician, filmmakers seem to get cold feet.
However, with An Insignificant Man- a documentary feature film on Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi’s Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, making its way to the theatres recently, and movies on the lives of Bal Thackeray and former PM Manmohan Singh under production, Bollywood filmmakers look to be warming up to the idea. While the Thackeray biography has Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing the late Shiv Sena supremo, actor Anupam Kher essays the role of Dr Manmohan Singh.
Anand Gandhi, who produced the Kejriwal biopic says that since politics forms the backbone of a society, it is high time more political biopics got made. “We should welcome such films. It is exciting that we are finally at a point where we can talk about politics openly. We should speak about our political discourse and our political history openly through a keen critique of the perspective of filmmakers, from both fictional and non-fictional background,” he says.
Because of the fear of being harassed, fear of backlash, people come to the conclusion that it is better not to dabble in political films and better to do something non-political—Hansal Mehta
On why political biopics has been a largely untouched genre, filmmaker Hansal Mehta says that the fear of being targetted makes it difficult to take up such projects.
“In our country, people are afraid even to take a political stand. If you have a stand which is different from the majority stand, you immediately get targetted. So because of the fear of being harassed, fear of backlash, people feel it is better not to dabble in political films and make something non-political,” adds” says Mehta, who is writing The Accidental Prime Minister, based on Dr Manmohan Singh’s life. Mehta is also directing a film based on the life of former PM Indira Gandhi’s late son, Sanjay Gandhi.
Echoing Mehta, Gandhi says that the co-directors of An Insignificant Man, Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, had to overcome several objections by the censor board to release the film on Kejiwal’s life. He adds, however, that the duo showed the way to others, who should now be encouraged to make more such films.
“We have lived through a long period of political censorship. How they (Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla) got their film released is very inspiring,” Gandhi asserts.
It is a trend. If one person announces a film on the life of a political leader, it triggers the imagination of hundreds others, and then two and three end up doing the same thing—Komal Nahta, trade analyst
Trade analyst, Komal Nahta, thinks that a need for newer subjects will force filmmakers to make more political biopics.
“It is a trend. If one person announces a film on the life of a political leader, it triggers the imagination of a hundred others, and then two and three of them end up doing the same. It requires one person to take the plunge. And then others follow,” he says. For actors, meanwhile, a political biopic seems no different to any other. ““There is no difficulty in playing a politician. It is just another character for me. It is just like playing a person - be it Milkha Singh, MS Dhoni or John F. Kennedy,” says Anupam Kher.