‘I am not a political person’
Filmmaker Omung Kumar reacts to the allegations made by the Opposition about his film PM Narendra Modi, working with Vivek Oberoi and staying true to the story of the real character
Omung Kumar’s next, PM Narendra Modi, is making headlines since its announcement. But the film, which is set to release on April 5, has got caught up in political controversy. The Congress party has criticised the biopic as propaganda and called the release before elections as violation of the model code of conduct. So much so that the film’s producer Sandip Ssingh and lead actor Vivek Oberoi, along with his lawyer Hitesh Jain, appeared before the poll panel on Thursday after the Election Commission (EC) issued a show cause notice to producers.
But the Mary Kom filmmaker is unfazed by all the negative publicity. “If we would have released the film in September or some other time, the Opposition and trolls would still have a problem and they would have made noise. Among the 100 trolls, there are 300 likes also, so I don’t get bothered or influenced by all these,” says Omung during the promotion of the film.
But why release the film just two weeks before election? “It happened by chance,” says the filmmaker adding, “Moreover, it’s Sandip Ssingh’s call when to release the film. We had discussed various aspects and knew that there would be opposition and criticism but we wanted to release it at the right time. Though we had not knowingly planned to release it now, ” says Omung.
PM Narendra Modi stars Vivek Anand Oberoi in the title role, Darshan Kumaar, Boman Irani, Manoj Joshi, Prashant Narayanan, Zarina Wahab, among others. The film has been produced by Sandip Ssingh, Anand Pandit and Suresh Oberoi.
The film will traverse Narendra Damodardas Modi’s life journey, from his humble beginnings to his years as Chief Minister to his landmark win at the 2014 election and finally being elected as the Prime Minister of India. But was Omung careful enough not to make Modi look like a larger-than-life personality in the film?
“As far as making him look heroic is concerned, even Mary Kom and Sarabjit were heroic but no one made any kind of noise. People, including the Opposition, is making noise for the sake of making noise.
Having said that, there is heroism in this film because the character is such,” says the filmmaker.
When making a film directors often take creative liberty. Ask Omung about this and he says, “It’s a film, not a documentary. If something worthy happened in his life, I did show it. I didn’t shy away from that. You have to take creative liberties even while drawing the line because we have shown 60 years of his life and to join the dots, I have do it creatively. But we have stayed true to the facts.”
Many have questioned the need to make a film on Narendra Modi’s life. But Omung maintains that he likes to make inspiring stories. “I wanted to make a film on him because his is an inspirational story.
Sandip, my partner, came up with the story idea saying that it’s a motivational story and we should do it. But it was also a huge responsibility. This is for the first time that someone has made an attempt to make a film on a living Prime Minister. More than that, I was inspired by the fact that if a chai wala can become the PM, anyone can,” says Omung adding, “I am not a political but neutral person. The human story about Modi ji interested me more. If we keep aside the politics, I am making a true film about an inspiring personality.”
As the conversation moves towards Vivek, who has been away from the big screen for quite sometime, Omung says that Vivek was his first choice for the part. “When I cast Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom, everyone said that she won’t look convincing enough and they said the same about Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. I like to take actors whom everyone thinks that they can never fit the part, but they can. Vivek and I were judging India’s Best Dramebaaz and that’s when Sandip was also discussing the film. Vivek is a fantastic actor and he can become anything. Some other producer had approached him with a similar script four years back but he refused,” Omung explains.
He says that they have worked immensely on his look, mannerisms and body language. “We have taken creative liberty while planning the PM’s younger version, how he would have looked as a young Modi,” concludes Omung.