Justalkin Episode 37: Politics and politicians in film: How reel life isn’t too far from real life
Ready, set, go! The action has already begun for the Lok Sabha elections that are gonna take place in April and May this year. This is Justalkin brought to you by in.com. What’s different this time is that even films haven’t been left untouched in campaigns. There was one last year, very snarkily called “The Accidental Prime Minister” starring Anupam Kher in the role of Manmohan Singh, which threw very unsubtle hints of what the makers of the film thought of the Congress party. There’s one about Prime Minister Narendra Modi which stars Vivek Oberoi in the titular role. But these weren’t the first political films to come out.
Prakash Jha likes to make hard-core movies with solid plots - mostly political or socio-political ones. And that’s what he did with Raajneeti, but it wasn’t just about politics. He drew parallels with the Mahabharatha and the characters in his film. It stars Nana Patekar, Arjun Rampal, Ranbir Kapoor, Ajay Devgn and Katrina Kaif amongst others, playing different parts from the epic but set in modern times. There’s family drama, deception, a love story, murders - in other words just regular days in the lives of politicians. And it was involved in a lot of controversy before it could be released, mainly to do with Katrina Kaif’s character, because they thought her character was influenced by Sonia Gandhi and Rabri Devi. Does it look like they have anything in common? Except being in politics, but the similarities end there!
Newton stars the incredible Rajkummar Rao - he’ll have you eating right out of his hand with his excellent acting. This came out in the year 2017, and Rajkummar Rao plays a government clerk who is assigned election duty in a naxal-controlled town. Now this movie is quite amazing because it works your grey cells - tells you things about the electoral process and makes you think about the role each one of us plays when we get out there and vote. But it also makes you laugh because some of the things that happen in this country during elections are downright ridiculous. It was screened at a lot of film festivals around the world, won a lot of awards, and also went on to become India’s official entry to the Oscars that year.
Lincoln was directed by Steven Spielberg in the year 2012. It’s a historical drama film about the man who is considered America’s greatest President and the world’s hero when it comes to democracy. It takes you through the life of Lincoln in the final four months of his life before his assassination. Steven Spielberg first went to Daniel Day-Lewis to play Lincoln, but Day-Lewis turned it down because he thought the idea of himself playing Lincoln was too ridiculous. Then the role went to Liam Neeson, who asked for some slight changes to the script and everything, but then apparently he had this moment where it hit him he just couldn’t play Lincoln, so he refused the role a few months after preparing for it, saying he was too old to play Lincoln. But then the role went back to Daniel Day-Lewis, and the movie went on to get 12 nominations at the Academy Awards!
The Sarkar series were made by another film maker from India who prides on basing his films on social issues or his dissection of them. Ram Gopal Varma made Sarkar, Sarkar Raj and Sarkar 3, all based on the Indian political system, mostly portraying it in Maharashtra. Amitabh Bachchan plays Sarkar throughout the series, and it has recurring characters like Supriya Pathak who plays his wife, and Abhishek Bachchan who plays his son. The rest of the characters have some incredible actors playing them including Sayaji Shinde, Jackie Shroff and Kay Kay Menon. He has a reputation for speaking too soon but he nailed his casting for this series.
Frost/ Nixon is a movie that came out in the year 2006, and is a very unique film in terms of it’s format. It’s a historical drama that revolves around the 1977 interviews that took place between President Richard Nixon, and a TV presenter and journalist named David Frost. After Nixon resigned from the White House because of the Watergate scandal, Frost did everything in his means to get a confession out of Nixon through a series of interviews. Nixon himself wanted a redemption through these interviews so he did everything in his power to come out the winner. This movie was so beautifully made that it was called a cross between a boxing match and ballet.
Mudhalvan is a Tamil film that came out in the year 1999 starring Arjun Sarja and Manisha Koirala. It was later remade in Hindi starring Anil Kapoor and Rani Mukerji. Both these versions had the best villains from their respective industries - Raghuvaran in Tamil, and Amrish Puri in Hindi. It’s about a TV reporter who has a face-off with the Chief Minister, who gives him the reins of the CM’s office for one day, and people love him so much they ask him to take it up permanently. Not just India, even film makers in Bangladesh thought this was a great movie and remade it and called it “minister”.
Lal Salam is a Malayalam film that stars Mohanlal, Murali, Urvashi and Geetha, and it’s the story of comrades in Kerala, during the early days of the Communist Party. It also brings in love stories, relationships with families, false accusations, a hide-and-seek with the police, fighting the system - just what every political movie needs. Apart from an incredible cast, it also has a plot with many twists and turns, and is very well-paced.
The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep absolutely killed it as the Iron Lady. It is a biographical drama about the life of Margaret Thatcher, the first ever female and the longest serving Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 20th century. Meryl Streep steals the show right from under everyone else’s noses. Apparently she had to know how to behave and everything so Meryl Streep attended a parliament session and sat in the House of Commons. Imagine if she went came to India for that exact same research - the things she would see! This brilliant film went on to win a lot of awards, and so did Meryl Streep - it takes one great lady to play another.
This isn’t the end of political movies though, there’s one about the life of the resourceful and popular ex-chief minister of Tamil Nadu Jayalalitha being made. We’re gonna see a lot more of these political movies because they know it doesn’t stop with campaigning - they’ve got to his us where it’s easy to hit. This is Justalkin brought to you by in.com and my name is Krithika.