Blending many wines to make a political cocktail

Madam Chief Minister is a movie whose makers (perhaps) perceived themselves as someone akin to a skilled cocktail-maker. Hence they picked many ingredients from the real (North)  Indian politics (during the last decade of the twentieth century and the inaugural decade of the twenty-first century) and blended them well (as per their wisdom) to prepare a drink which might render a thrilling kick to the prospective consumers, i.e., the (Indian) spectators. And the result came in the form of this movie which renders thrill but that’s all. Hence it can be called a reasonably good cocktail but not good enough to fetch sufficient accolades for the barman, i.e., the makers of the movie.

The ‘Madam Chief Minister’ shown in this movie is Tara Roopraam who is a relatively young unmarried woman from a lower caste (Dalit) maintaining a boy-cut hairdo, using a fiery tongue and having an unquenchable thirst for power; who has been a protégé of a hard-working Dalit leader taking on the privileged castes as well as the well-established political parties (through his own newly established political outfit); who enters into such a power-sharing agreement with the other prominent political party (widely perceived as the party of the privileged castes)  after the electoral results are out that both the parties will have their own Chief Ministers for half of the term of the government and gets the first turn to hold this post for herself and all these happenings take place in Uttar Pradesh during the nineties. No prizes for guessing which real life female political leader of UP our Tara Roopraam is modeled upon.

However despite the political journey of Ms. Mayawati being an interesting one, the filmmaker was (perhaps) scared of showing her life as it is for one thing (without making the movie as her biopic). And secondly, he wanted to ensure the commercial success of the movie. Resultantly, despite using the famous (or notorious) slogan of Kanshi Ram (Mayawati’s political mentor) – Tilak Tarazu Aur Talwar, Innko Maaro Joote Chaar which is an utterly humiliating slogan for the so-called Dwij castes of the Hindus, i.e., the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas and the Vaishyas; the filmmaker completely avoided not only the caste identity of the protagonist but also her feminine identity throughout the duration of the movie. Had the leading lady been a leading man or an upper caste woman, it would hardly have made any difference to the narrative presented on the screen.

Besides, to make an entertaining spicy movie, the writer-cum-director, Subhash Kapoor arranged certain other ingredients to increase the kick-rendering ability of the main liquor. And he jampacked the narrative with thrilling events. Plainly speaking, despite the guest-house incident really happening with Ms. Mayawati in June 1995, several facts have been twisted in this and many other anecdotes of UP politics of the nineties. The director has shown that the protagonist (being the sitting CM) was trying to induce the MLAs of the rival party to come to her side when a violent attack took place on her. It’s not fact-based with respect to Mayawati’s life who actually became UP CM for the first time the next day of that incident. Besides, it’s been shown that the protagonist was saved by her OSD who put his own life in danger for that purpose and out of gratitude, she married him later. The fact is – Mayawati was saved by a BJP MLA, Brahm Dutt Dwivedi in that violent incident who himself was shot dead in February 1997. And as far as breaking the rival party was concerned, the director has shown the protagonist as breaking the alliance partner party by tempting its MLAs with the promise of making them ministers whereas the fact is – Mayawati’s own legislative party had been broken by the then UP CM Kalyan Singh in 1997 and then he had made every turncoat a minister in his government.

Due to filmmaker’s jampacking the script with several thrilling (true, partly true or false) episodes, the narrative moves unduly fast and does not allow the characters especially the protagonist (Madam Chief Minister) to emerge as real flesh and blood human-beings. Especially in its second half, the story loses its realism completely and appears as something utterly filmy that can be enjoyed but can’t be believed. Should we believe that a sitting CM (whether Mayawati or anybody else) kills someone with own hands without caring for the witnesses around ? Such kind of unbelievable things were shown by Prakash Jha also in his decade old movie Raajneeti (2010) which was a modern version of Mahabhaarat. Besides, the political ascent of the protagonist is also too fast to believe. Above all, though Mayawati used to wear costly gold ornaments before public (her supporters), she never presented herself as something sensual by mouthing titillating things (about herself) before the audience. It’s been wise on the part of the filmmaker that he has not claimed for any similarity between his film’s protagonist and Ms. Mayawati, else he (in my humble opinion) would have been badly beaten by her party members and supporters.

When the story itself is a fiction posturing as something real, the same is bound to happen with the artistes too playing the relevant characters. Despite the earnest efforts of Saurabh Shukla as Master Soorajbhan (the character modeled upon Late Kanshi Ram, the founder of Bahujan Samaj Party) and Manav Kaul as Danish Khan, the OSD turned husband of  ‘Madam Chief Minister’; the characters appear to be artificial by all means and for that the script and its treatment is the culprit, not the artistes playing them. As far as Richa Chadha in the title role is concerned, she is a good actress doomed by the half-baked character as the role assigned to her.

Swanand Kirkire has penned and Mangesh Dhakde has composed a very good song Chidi Chidi for the movie. The background score is okay. The other technical aspects are also okay. There are unanswered questions and continuity jerks in the narrative for which the editor can be held responsible to some extent and the director to a great extent.

Finally, one thing which the movie underscores with certainty before the narrator signs off is that power is the ultimate thing and everybody with howsoever pious intentions he/she might have entered politics becomes desirous to hold on to that. The taste of power acts just like a strong drug with addiction bound to take place sooner than later. Power which might have been perceived as a means to achieve something in the beginning, becomes an end in itself. And it applies to almost everybody.

Including our ‘Madam Chief Minister’.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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5 Responses to Blending many wines to make a political cocktail

  1. Vartikaforu says:

    Nice review sir. I got the gist of the movie although I am not planning to watch it.. trailer of the movie was also not looking interesting.

  2. Rekha Sahay says:

    Review hamesha ki tarah interesting hai.
    Maine socha tha is movie ko dekhne ke baad comment daalungi. Par abhi tak dekh nahi paai hun.

    • देख लीजिए रेखा जी। फ़िल्म रोचक है पर कोई वैचारिक आदर्श प्रस्तुत नहीं करती। ठीकठाक है। हार्दिक आभार आपका।

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