Main Atal Hoon works largely because of Pankaj Tripathi

Pankaj Tripathi as Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Main Atal Hoon. Photo: Universal Communications

When a biopic is timed to release just before the opening of the Ayodhya Ram Temple, you cannot help thinking that it is more planned than organic. The film was launched with one of the truly redoubtable actors of our times—Pankaj Tripathi, whose resemblance to Vajpayee is moderate but is beautifully enhanced by the versatile actor with gestures, expressions, smiles and general body language. The casting of this genial actor remains an incredible asset to this film, directed by National Award-winner Ravi Jadhav, who has always done exceptional work in his mother-tongue (that is, Marathi cinema) and mediocre work in Hindi (Banjo).

However, this time, Jadhav reaches somewhere between mediocrity and excellence! He capsules Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s diverse aspects (a committed orator, social worker, student, freedom fighter, politician and finally minister and Prime Minister) besides being a peace-loving poet and an inclusive nationalist and staunch patriot. But, like with Sam Bahadur recently, the material at his disposal is so extensive that the 2-hours-20-minute-film looks episodic and the script is often seen jumping from one point to another. Moreover, extensive material always suggests a series rather than movie.

While touching intimately upon Atal Bihari’s heartwarming relationship with his father (Piyush Mishra, also the narrator) and his bonding with Rajkumari Kaul (Ekta Kaul), her husband and daughter, the script tends to skip through several crucial aspects. For the politically-unaware, it spotlights the ideology of the RSS as a nationalistic organization that does not discriminate religion-wise, and also waxes eloquent on Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s richness of spoken language and his zeal for making friends both with Pakistan and his political antagonists.

In the process, while pointing out at intentional political misdeeds as well as blunders down the decades, the director does seem to shirk away from getting into necessary details about many aspects, like how and why Atal Bihari kept the nuclear tests a secret, or how he was finally left minus any family. His views as a freedom fighter and his equation with Lal Bahadur Shastri remain undocumented. The film ends where it began—with India’s victory in the Kargil conflict of 1999, and we are not privy to his last days.

Of course, some dialogues are fabulous, and are hopefully taken from Atal Bihari’s real life, like his rejoinder to a Pakistani scribe about taking Kashmir as a ‘dowry’.

Nothing more need be said about Pankaj Tripathi’s tremendous performance. As Rajkumari, Ekta is excellent. From the supporting cast, Piyush Mishra scores as Atal Bihari’s father, and so do Ajay Purkar as Hegdewar, Daya Shankar Pandey as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, Raja Rameshkumar Sewak as L.K. Advani, Pramod Pathak as Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.

The music is alright, with Salim-Sulaiman’s Ankaha sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Armaan Malik as the pick of the lot. Technically average, the film is still worth a visit not only as a peak into the politician’s colorful aura but also to know what went on in politics in India.

Bhanushali Studios’ & Legend Studios’ Main Atal Hoon  Produced by: Sandeep Singh, Vinod Bhanushali & Kamlesh Bhanushali  Directed by: Ravi Jadhav  Written by: Sarang Darshane, Ravi Jadhav, Rishi Virmani, Amol Bhor & Mayuresh Bhor  Music: Salim-Sulaiman, Kailash Kher, Payal Dev & Amitraj  Starring: Pankaj Tripathi, Ekta Kaul, Piyush Mishra, Pramod Pathak, Raja Rameshkumar Sewak, Daya Shankar Pandey, Ajay Purkar, Prashant Ketkar, Payal Kapoor Nair, Neeta Jhanji, Aditya Raj Sen, Madhu Singh, Harshad Kumar, Haresh Khatri, Rajesh Khatri, Gauri Sukhtanker, Pradeep Choudhary, Eklakh Khan, Ajay Singh, Prashant Deshmukh, Paramjit Singh, Yogendra Patwal, Vikram Joshi, Nagesh Prasad, Shreya Awasthi, Apratyam Gupta, Kiran Kashinath, Salim Mulla & others





Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here