Controversies loom large over Omung Kumar’s latest directorial ‘PM Narendra Modi’. Slated for release on April 5, the political biopic stars Vivek Oberoi in the role of the incumbent Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On Friday, veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar took to social media to express his ‘shock’ over being credited as a songwriter for the film.
There were also reports of a show cause notice being served to the makers for running a full-page advertisement in a leading Hindi newspaper, which allegedly violates the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct.
Speaking to Shilajit Mitra, producer Sandip Singh, who is also the creative director and story writer of the film, answered multiple queries surrounding his upcoming release. Edited excerpts:
Did your company, Legend Global Studios, receive a show cause notice from a district election officer in East Delhi?
Right now nothing has come. The media is playing things up. Nothing of that sort has happened. So I think we should maintain the silence.
What is your strategy if the Election Commission intervenes in your film’s release before the elections?
There are no plans. I am not here to break the rules. I have released multiple films in the past. We will follow the law and release this film on time. We have not thought of anything more. Let the time come, we will face it.
Javed Akhtar was upset to find his name on the film’s poster. Why was he credited?
I respect Javed Sahab and Sameer Sahab. They are seniors. I’ve grown up with their music. I wanted two songs for our film. One is ‘Ishwar Allah’ from 1947: Earth and the other is ‘Suno Gaur Se Duniya Walon’ from Dus. That’s why they have been credited along with the other lyricists. I am blessed to have these songs in my film.
How do you respond to criticism that your film is a work of propaganda?
Through my films, I am always trying to tell a story that inspires people. PM Narendra Modi is the story of a human being who was a chai-wallah who becomes the Prime Minister. It’s about the thought and the vision that he has, which has to be noticed. The film is made to inspire the youth and the 135 crore Indians to do something for their nation.
If so, then how have you dealt with the controversial aspects of PM Modi’s life?
I’ve made three biopics before— Aligarh, Sarbjit and Mary Kom. Everything has been told properly in those films; the way it has to be told. Even in this film, nothing has been hidden. PM Modi’s life is an open book. He speaks on (his radio show) Mann Ki Baat.
Every newspaper has written about his life and every news channel speaks about it. So what will we hide and why? Nobody has asked us to do that. People should also look at political figures as human beings. They too have families and go through highs and lows. All of that has been well captured in the film.
The final version of the trailer (released online on March 20) was missing references to the Godhra carnage, along with some other scenes screened at the launch event. There was also a delay of several hours between the press screening and the digital release. What caused the delay? Was there any external pressure to re-edit the trailer?
No. There was a delay because I wanted a different version to go on digital media. I felt the original version was too long. In digital space, people don’t have time to watch a long trailer. So we had to cut it and redo everything. And then we uploaded it at 12 o’clock.
Is it difficult to handle the production aspects of a film while also contributing creatively to it?
Different people have their own interests and passions. I love music and cinema. I watch all the filmmakers and learn from them. I began my journey selling ice-cream at Marine Lines. From there, I became a journalist and eventually came into films.
But these struggles have given me invaluable life experiences. I’ve met a lot of people and observed all kinds of characters. I discourage the idea of going to a film institute. People should learn the craft from living life instead of reading books or surfing Google, which is sad.