Prof. T K Thomas

After much protests and complaints from the Opposition, and intervention by the Supreme Court of India, it is now clear that the biopic [a biographical film] “PM Narendra Modi” may not be released till 19th May, the last day of this General Election. By then the prime objective of producing such a film, a major electoral propaganda device to further boost the image of the Prime Minister and the electoral prospects of the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] would remain unfulfilled. The film therefore has definitely become irrelevant and almost infructuous. The film is directed by Omung Kumar who did the biopic of celebrities like Mary Kom and features Bollywood actor Vivek Oberoi in the lead with Boman Irani, Zarina Wahab and others.

During the last couple of months the filmmakers and the BJP have been doing pre release publicity for this Modi biopic like any Bollywood producer would do; they appeared really confident that no one can stop the release of the film as they seem to have utter disregard for all regulations including the Central Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct as not applicable to the Prime Minister.

The film was to be released on 11th April but on the eve of the release, the Election Commission stalled the release. The producer Sandeep Singh challenged the ban in the Supreme Court and the court asked the Commission to watch the film and submit its opinion in a sealed cover by 22nd April. The apex Court asked the Commission to watch the film, already certified by the Central Board OF Film Certification, and submit their opinion in a ‘sealed cover’ and share it also with the producer of the film.

The Election Commission was entrusted the task of watching the film and preparing a report based on their opinion about the film. This report was submitted to the court last Friday in a sealed cover as directed by the court. Some of the ‘opinions’ of the Committee on the film, have been quoted extensively in reports by almost all major national newspapers which are very serious and question the intentions of the film makers to release the film when the General Elections are in progress ending only on May 19th.

Here are excerpts from the report of the Committee : “The committee is of the considered view that public screening of the movie, ’PM Narendra Modi’ during the period of model code of conduct will tilt the balance of the particular political party, therefore, the public screening of the movie, ’PM Narendra Modi’ should not be allowed till last date of poll on May 19 in the ongoing elections”.

The report adds in its 20 page report, “the synopsis of the movie provided with the script ends on an interesting sentence- ‘India is Modi and Modi is India’. This is reminiscent of the famous statement by Congress leader D K Baruhua, who had said ‘Indira is India and India is Indira’ in the 1970s”.

Another part of the report says, “Eulogizing of the character of Narendra Modi is very clear right through the movie. More than biography, it is hagiography. There are several scenes depicting a major opposition party as corrupt and showing them in poor light. Their leaders have been depicted in such a manner that their identification is clear and obvious to the viewers.”

It is worth pointing out that the literary genre hagiography, which originally were writings about Christian saints and martyrs is defined as, “a very admiring book about someone or a description of someone that represents the person as perfect or much better than they really are, or the activity of writing about someone in this way”.[from dictionary]

Though, as of now there has not been any final word from the Supreme Court on the date of release of the Modi biopic, based on the submission by the Election Commission to the court there are reasonable indications to presume that the release has to wait till the last vote is cast on May 19th.