The poll season spawns many activities, and many may even be useful for the economy and the GDP curve. The 2019 general election, however, seems unique, having spurred activity in Bollywood too — it’s literally raining biopics. One wonders if this is to garner critical acclaim or aimed only at the box office, but it’s no coincidence that those whose life stories are being recreated on celluloid are national leaders. It is a sign of more liberal times that biopics on leaders are being opposed only in pro-forma legal suits than with outright bans as seen lately in more contentious times, when India was rent asunder by a major battle of ideologies during the Indira Gandhi days.
The talk of a mere likeness to netas or critique of their public life may have been sufficient in the old days to cut off a film project on our politicians. Filmmakers seem more inspired these days to attempt biopics of leaders, even if they aren’t of the outright laudatory kind as in the portrayal of Dr Manmohan Singh in The Accidental Prime Minister. It is, however, quite unlikely that the films on Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi will be overtly critical of either personality in the race for Prime Minister from the summer of 2019. The suspicion that such films are too conveniently timed and are aimed more at propaganda than artistic portrayal of leaders’ lives could lead to the box office not quite taking a liking to them.