The Accidental Prime Minister

wogma rating: Switch channels if it's on cable (?)

quick review:

It is almost like you are paying to watch an advertisement about someone you are not interested in. No, it’s not about Dr. Singh, that would actually be very interesting. This one is an “I, me, myself” on and almost completely by Sanjaya Baru.

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Running time: 110 minutes
Genres: Politics
More Movie Info

A son is trying hard to please his father. The father is not very impressed. The son writes a book on the father and their relationship. The silence becomes even thicker. A film is made based on the book. Will the father look in the son’s direction? With a film like this, goodness no! They are not related by blood but father-son is what the relationship looks like between Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sanjaya Baru.

it would be easy to pin the blame of all the shortcomings down on budget-contrained production values and tacky-sounding versions of har ghadi badal rahi hai... as background music

It is difficult to begin where the film goes wrong. That the protagonist himself seems like a caricature is as good a place to start as any. When a soft-spoken man is turned into a squeaky voice it does seem like a gimmick to get some laughs out of the audience. I am not sure I remember how Dr. Singh walked but I am sure I have seen him with his hands by his side and not as if they were paralysed in front of his body. And if keeping these tweaks consistent through the length of the film is good acting, this is indeed one of Anupam Kher’s finest performances.

Then you have the cocky second lead in Sanjaya Baru himself, played by Akshaye Khanna. Again, if smugness in every scene is what they were shooting for Akshaye Khanna has nailed it. And this continues to everyone from Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

They have pinned the looks down quite perfectly, though. You have to give them that. But, if only politics were as simple as looks. The simplification of matters such as nuclear energy and border issues with Pakistan is both ridiculous and brutal. And it’s not like relatively simple matters such as a former Prime Minister’s burial are treated with better explanation, let alone nuance or sensitivity.

The story also hops timelines and topics seemingly randomly. And then there is the politics. Through the film I got a sense that the makers were controlling themselves from implicating themselves in any controversy. Now, whether that comes directly from the book or not, I know not. But, it is quite annoying because you feel like the filmmakers are behaving like politicians, who want to keep you guessing about their motivations.

And while it would be easy to pin the blame of all the shortcomings down on budget-contrained production values and tacky-sounding versions of har ghadi badal rahi hai... as background music, The Accidental Prime Minister loses because of extremely poor and misguided story-telling. Unless, the title of the film is an indicator that it is more about the book and its writer and not about Dr. Manmohan Singh at all. Because this one looks like it is about how he would have been nothing were it not for Sanjaya Baru.

Sure, you could watch it out of curiousity, but it wouldn’t be surprising if you switched channels in a few minutes.

- meeta, a part of the audience

30 reviewers(?) - 1 yays 9 so-so 20 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...Bollywood has produced several political dramas that are intense, complex and dark, The Accidental Prime Minister has all of that in measured tones. It leaves you more entertained than informed, and we don’t think it’s by accident.... full review

So-So, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...The Accidental Prime Minister is a different film and one must laud the courage to pick up something so controversial. However, it needed better execution to make a real impact. It is a definite one time watch with its breezy narrative, superb casting and of course Akshaye Khanna who shines like a diamond. Does it redeem the image of Dr Manmohan Singh? Not as well as it was expected to...... full review

So-So, by Meena Iyer, DNA : ...If you're into current affairs this one will pique your interest. Be warned: this is not 'entertaining' by any stretch of the imagination.... full review

So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Is The Accidental Prime Minister a propaganda film? It's based on a book which came out just before the general elections in 2014 and is releasing in an election year, so you can draw your own conclusions...... full review

So-So, by Vishal Verma, : ...Anupam Kher has given the performance of his lifetime in THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINISTER, its such a towering act that deserves something near GANDHI ( Sir Ben Kinsley) , DARKEST HOUR (Gary Oldman), LINCOLN (Daniel Day-Lewis), DR. BABASAHEB AMBEDKAR (Mammootty), level of a layered cinema to match the act. THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINISTER isn,t that cinema that thrives to dig in, instigate, initiate, it’s just a heartfelt account between a PM and his media adviser, still it’s based on certain facts and it cannot be denied that after watching THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINISTER it will be crystal clear that even after delivering most outstanding performances in a career spanning 35 years that started with SAARANSH, an actor like Anupam Kher will always ‘prepare’ and ready to go at length to deliver a role that can become immortal.... full review

So-So, by Pankhurie Mulasi, Movie Talkies : ...The Accidental Prime Minister[/caption] Dialogues are okay, background score is jarring and cinematography is also weak but as the story is enthralling and riveting, it keeps you engrossed. I do feel that they could have focused a bit more on the 2G, 3G scams and Nira Radia tapes. I enjoyed watching the film and feel that it needed to be made. However, as it's a one-sided story there's a lot left to imagination.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...What should a biopic deliver is a question that will garner Read more at: full review

So-So, Outlook India : ...The Accidental Prime Minister works well as a pantomime of power politics. Beyond that, we will have to wait for another time another regime.... full review

So-So, by Utkarsh Mishra, Rediff : ...Lastly, one may say the movie will attract two sets of viewers -- those who follow politics and know what has happened in the country in the past two decades and those who woke up to Indian politics only during the 2014 Lok Sabha election.... full review

So-So, by Ankita Bhandari, Zee News : ...Overall, 'The Accidental Prime Minister' is a one time watch. Catch the film in your nearest cinema for the masterly performance by the actors, if nothing else.... full review

Thumbs down, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINISTER rests on a great premise but the faulty and flawed screenplay and direction ruin the show. At the box office, the controversy surrounding the film might help it initially but the film is bound to crash.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...The film could have been a trenchant look at the murky world of Indian politics with a clean man at the centre, but it ends up as boring, confused and borderline absurd. Audiences can amuse themselves by checking which actor resembles the real-life character he or she plays; strangely, Akshaye Khanna, dressed in a natty new suit for every scene, looks nothing like Sanjaya Baru.... full review

Thumbs down, by SUPARNA SHARMA, Deccan Chronicle : ...Hansal Mehta (director of Shahid, Aligarh) was, apparently, the creative producer of The Accidental Prime Minister. Yet the film is tacky beyond belief. All its interiors are gaudy, gilded, ugly and cinematically it’s insanely rudimentary.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...A running jibe throughout the film is Manmohan Singh’s radio silence: his inability to be heard. “Why don’t you say anything?” asks everyone frustratedly, from Baru to his wife. With the release of The Accidental Prime Minister as a movie, though, their prayers might well be answered. Even the quietest man in the country won’t be able to resist commenting on this tacky concoction of soul-killing nonsense. No amount of zen calm can dilute the trauma of watching a bad movie about yourself. He will finally be heard. So what if it’s an array of polite curses mumbled under dignified breaths?... full review

Thumbs down, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...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.... full review

Thumbs down, by UDITA JHUNJHUNWALA, FirstPost : ...I came away with Akshaye Khanna’s smug smile and his jaunty walk. He is conspiratorial throughout, occasionally pensive and seemingly having the last laugh in an inelegant adaptation.... full review

Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...This is undoubtedly Anupam Kher’s worst performance ever as an actor. Instead of belittling the legend (which this entire exercise appears to be engineered towards), he ends up demeaning his own talents. Even Akshaye Khanna’s sartorially suave, paradoxically toned performance can’t save this film from being relegated to the dustbin of history!... full review

Thumbs down, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...As the band strikes Que Sera Sera, it is apparent The Accidental Prime Minister is made by people in no danger of knowing too much. Agitprop, for them, may simply be a way to describe Mona Darling. The opening credits, featuring the words “directior assistant,” announce as much. This is propaganda by people who can’t spell.... full review

Thumbs down, by Samrudhi Ghosh, india today : ...Directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, The Accidental Prime Minister starring Anupam Kher as former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is the big release today. Watch the film at your own risk, says our movie review.... full review

Thumbs down, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...That the film rests mainly on the shoulders of Anupam Kher as Dr. Singh and Akshaye Khanna as Sanjaya Baru is a given. While Baru is excellently underplayed by Khanna, Kher is astounding, complete with expressions, voice and body language as Dr. Singh. Suzanne Bernert as Sonia Gandhi and Divya Seth as Dr. Singh’s wife make a good impression. The rest have really nothing to do or are competent.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...Singh may well have been an ‘accidental’ PM, in Baru’s succinct words, and history may or may not judge him differently. But it is no accident that the film is out now. The release is completely intentional: the polls are around the corner.... full review

Thumbs down, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, this political-drama neither has much politics nor has an authoritative drama. What it has is a couple of very good performances but they aren’t enough to make you stick your seats even for a very crisp duration. From what, as a dumb-headed politic follower, I feel this was a homage to an individual leading to demean a party. If you guys see the film, please let me know if I’ve got this right.... full review

Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...In Uri: The Surgical Strike, Prime Minister Narendra Modi – played by Rajit Kapur – is shown as decisive and calm under pressure. He gets to say “Jai Hind” while signing off on a covert military mission. Gandhi, on the other hand, tears up his own party’s ordinance. You realise by the end that the film’s title is a warning. It’s saying: Manmohan Singh was the right man for the job. The real accident will be electing Rahul Gandhi as prime minister.... full review

Thumbs down, by Mohar Basu, MiD DAY : ...Do we know how Singh felt through it all? That’s for another film. There’s enough to laugh about in this offering, but the joke here is that while Hollywood continues to make great content, we are still nitpicking and name-calling.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...The director has no pretence of balance or objectivity. Witness Kapil Sibal's 'performance' in his famous "zero loss" press conference. The man is all at sea. The scene would have been funny hadn't its execution been so silly. The unkindest cut is reserved for Ahmed Patel. He is reduced to a conniving, comic emissary of the party high command. Even a fine actor like Vipin Sharma is left struggling to salvage the part. He is the smirking, sour-faced villain's henchman - a Bollywood stereotype that has no place in a film that aspires to be a bold, unfettered look at Indian politics. The Accidental Prime Minister is anything but that.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, : ...Alas that’s not enough to keep you engaged in this nearly-two-hour film whose agenda and very reason to exist is transparent from the word go. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for The Accidental Prime Minister.... full review

Thumbs down, by Manisha Lakhe, Now : ...Titled after a book of the same name, this film looks at Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh from the point of view of his media advisor Sanjaya Baru. The film is shabbily made even though they get lots of cast to look like people in real life, and skims the events in Dr, Singh's work life. Is this a propaganda film?... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, : ...But as recent events reveal, the joke is now on Goswami. The movie about a supposed historical accident comes off as calculated but it also, ultimately, incidental.... full review

Thumbs down, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...There are some films which leave you at a loss for words. Not because they are overwhelmingly good but because they are unfailingly and irredeemably bad. Vijay Gutte’s The Accidental Prime Minister, based Dr Sanjaya Baru’s book, throws light on the dynastic control and power play at the PMO during the reign of Dr. Manmohan Singh. It left me with barely a few monosyllables here and there to describe the dull, tortuous experience.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rummana, yahoo! India : ...No matter which side of the political spectrum you belong to, or even if you are a neutral spectator, I am sure you’d have loved a compelling story that gave us an insight into what really happens in the corridors of power. Alas, this film comes nowhere close to that. It comes across as a cheap publicity stunt with nothing going for it.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

5 readers - 4 yays 0 so-so 1 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Gaurav Singhal : Very engrossing, a must see movie

Yay! Thumbs Up, by J S

Yay! Thumbs Up, by kanika gupta : Why Are You give a low rating For This Movie

Yay! Thumbs Up, by : thanks

Nay! Thumbs Down, by Raj : Avoid

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: No abusive language, but some non-abusive words muted
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: The life of Dr. Manmohan Singh as prime minister
  • General Look and Feel: A very dry treatment

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:

The Accidental Prime Minister - Cast, crew, links

Costume Designer:
Running time:
110 minutes

Comments (4)

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The screenplay wasn’t up to the mark.
But it was still a good attempt.
Must watch!

Gaurav Singhal


Can't understand how can one give a low rating to such a good movie!!

-Gaurav Singhal
IIT Kanpur.


Very apt review Meetu, Not a beat missed by your watchful eye.

@Gaurav to each his own, as they say.

@Raj Thank you!

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