Omung Kumar on his film PM Narendra Modi: He is a hero figure and that is what I have portrayed

Omung Kumar B, the director of Vivek Oberoi starrer PM Narendra Modi believes his film is not a propaganda and its release during the election season was planned so that it could attract the maximum audience. The filmmaker, who delivered successful biopics such as Mary Kom and Sarabjit, sees Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a hero figure and says he was portrayed similarly in his film. In an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times, Omung spoke about why Vivek was the first choice for the film, his choice of the subject and why it is anything but a propaganda. Excerpts:

Since PM Narendra Modi has won a second term, do you expect his victory to do wonders for the film?

I hope so. Planning to make the film earlier and releasing it during the election season was supposed to be a high point for us, not depending on any victory. But it was postponed. Maybe everything happens for the best. We had planned that if he (PM Modi) comes back to power on May 23 and his victory is big enough, it will help us after all. The whole of India is in celebratory mood, maybe that is going to help us.

Is it a coincidence that the film’s release coincided with the election season?

We were releasing the film in April when the dates for the elections were not announced. But the elections came in and it was beneficial for us. People release their films on Eid and Diwali, election was a good time for us. If you make a film on cricket, you might like to release it during the World Cup to ride on the hype. We thought relevance of politics will help the film but it got postponed.

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Vivek has featured in very few films in a very long time. Why was he chosen to play PM Narendra Modi despite the age difference?

Age is basically prosthetics as it is. He is neither very old nor very young, he is in the middle. He was the first choice for Sandip Ssingh (co-producer) and me. I was judging India’s Best Dramebaaz and Vivek was also there. It so happened that people thought that we will work together and will do something in the future. Sandeep told me that ‘we are trying to make this for two years. What do you think of Vivek?’ I asked him to approach Vivek and he said yes. Finally he looked at me saying ‘why are you not directing our film’. I said, ‘I am not good at politics at all. I can’t make a political film.’ He said, ‘ good, don’t do a political film. Do it in your own style’. That’s why it happened with Vivek in my style, which was a zero to hero inspiring story. I am not politically inclined so I don’t make those kind of films. It’s not a propaganda film, it’s my style of film. Its dramatic because the life of the man is in itself dramatic and that’s how I have shown.

Vivek is a fantastic actor. He does few films but whatever he does, he stands out. He is a good actor and I always want good actors so I can make them into anything. And of course prosthetics came into play.

You have made two successful biopics before — Mary Kom and Sarabjit. Why did you make a biopic on PM Narendra Modi?

It’s an inspiring story. If someone said fifty years ago that this child is going to become the prime minister of the country after turning 60, its unbelivable. How did it happen and who is this person, that inspired me. He became the prime minister of India. And the world is taking notice because this has never happened before. And right now with the second thumping victory that he’s got, it’s unbelievable. There is something about this man and that is I wanted to show in my film. I like zero-to-hero films and that is what it is.

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What do want to tell the people who are calling it a propaganda film?

Its over. Earlier people used to think it’s a propaganda. I have made a film that coincidentally came during election time and we were making use of the opportunity. The people were in a political mood and would have liked to go and see the film. It is part of a man’s journey who is the PM of India right now. It has happened for the first time in the history of cinema that a film has been made on a ruling prime minister. This attracted me. He has too many things happening in his life and that is the heroism, he is a hero figure and that is what I have portrayed in the film. I haven’t made a documentary, it’s cinema and that’s why it is larger than life. I am going to give you goosebumps, I will give the music and there will be a high. It has happened in my earlier films.

In Mary Kom, when she was having her major fight, no one falls in slow motion. Her son was shown undergoing a surgery as she played the match. In real life, the surgery happened three months before her boxing match. I just put it together that the news of her son’s surgery comes at a time when she is having her match. It was to add drama and nobody objected to it.

Also read: PM Narendra Modi movie review: Vivek Oberoi film deifies the PM

Calling it propaganda is wrong, nobody paid us to make this film. We have producers who have incurred losses and have gone through hell in making this film. We know what we went through when it was banned. If there would have been a propaganda, the film would have released. But it didn’t release which means that nobody is backing us.

Many reviewers and moviegoers have said that the portrayal of Vivek’s character in the film is very positive with no negatives. Your comments.

I have shown negatives as well but they are not talking about it. I have shown positives because there are positives in his life. There are negatives — what he has gone through and I have shown that also. But if people think that it will be fun only when there is a downside and there is an upswing in this person’s life and that is what I have shown. I am not telling a lie, its just that we exaggerate in filmmaking. It’s not a documentary. I am not apologetic about it.

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First Published:
May 25, 2019 10:19 IST

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