Mumbai : Anupam Kher, the lead actor in the upcoming movie ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, on Friday cited freedom of expression to defend the film based on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, even as a controversy raged because of the Congress’ objections.
The movie, whose trailer has just been released, is based on the tenure of Singh as chronicled in a book by Sanjaya Baru, the Prime Minister’s Media Advisor between 2004 and 2008.
Singh was the Prime Minister from 2004 to 2014, heading the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Talking to ANI, Kher questioned the objections raised by Congress leaders, saying their own party President Rahul Gandhi had vouched for freedom of expression over the web series ‘Sacred Games’ which had a mention of his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The 63-year-old veteran actor, who is playing Manmohan Singh, said the protests against the movie will result in increased publicity.
“If they (Congress) think their political party is above the law, then the law will decide on it,” said the actor, while noting that both the film and the trailer have been approved by the Central Board of Certification (CBFC).
The film is being objected to by the opposition Congress, contending that it has “incorrect representation of the facts.”
Maharashtra Youth Congress has threatened that if the movie is released without prior screening for their office bearers, they will resort to “other options” to stop the release of the film.
Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Syed Zafar said his party won’t let the movie to be released in the state without watching it first.
“Manmohan Singh is an intellectual leader. Using words like accidental prime minister is very wrong and we will not allow such a film,” he said.
“If such a film is released in Madhya Pradesh, Congress will protest against the film. And we will not allow the film screening to take place here,” he added.
On being asked what are they objecting to in the movie, he responded saying, “We have a problem with the film’s title as well as the film’s trailer. The film’s title is really wrong. Congress will first see the movie and only after that, it will get released. ”
He also stated that he has written a letter to the director regarding the film’s title and the content of the movie.
Commenting on the Congress objections, Kher said, “The film is based on their leader. They should be happy.”
He noted that the movie is based on a book which was out since 2014 but there were no protests since then.
“I recently came across Rahul Gandhi’s post in which he stated that ‘the freedom of expression must not be policed and controlled’. So, I think he himself should condemn and stop those who are protesting against the film. He should tell them that what they are doing is wrong,” Kher said.
“An actor’s job is to act, the filmmaker’s job is to make a film and take it to the people and it’s the job of these organisations to protest. So, we should not give so much of importance to them,” Kher said.
The film is due to be out on January 11, ahead of the high-stakes 2019 General Elections.
Speaking about the release timing of the film, the star of ‘A Wednesday’ movie said, “When we make films on a subject like patriotism, we release it around January 26 or August 15. If the film is about politics, it will be released during elections. Why should anybody object to it?”
The Congress has contended that the movie does not project Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi in positive light.
Congress MP PL Punia, while commenting on the movie, said, “This is a BJP game. They know 5 years are about to end and they have nothing to show to the people. So they are using these tactics to divert attention.”
Responding to the criticism, Kher said, “If we make a film on the issue of Jallianwala Bagh or The Holocaust or any historic incident, we can’t change the history or the facts. That’s what we have done here.”
He went on to add, “The book is written by a man who was very close to the prime minister at that time. This book was either ignored or people moved on after its release. So why this hue and cry now?”
Kher further said he is just an actor in this movie and has tried to play his part in the most efficient way. “I have worked so hard in this movie for my look and everything that even my mother could not identify in this look,” he added.
The Congress also objected to tweeting of the trailer by the BJP.
Responding to this, Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said, “Can’t we extend our wishes for a film? Congress has been all for freedom, why is it questioning that freedom now?