Anupam Kher starrer The Accidental Prime Minister releases in theaters on January 11. The film marks the debut of director Vijay Ratnakar Gutte and also stars Akshaye Khanna in a pivotal role. The Accidental Prime Minister is based on the book of the same name by Sanjaya Baru.
In a chat with indianexpress.com, Vijay spoke about how he decided to come on board for this project and he also explains that this isn’t just a political film.
Here are the excerpts:
Q. Why did you choose The Accidental Prime Minister as your directorial debut?
I was offered this subject by Sunil Bora. He bought the rights in 2014. So when he came to me with this film, I first said no because it is a political film, and I had to make it commercially successful which was very difficult. Plus, as per agreement with Sanjaya Baru, we had to align our screenplay strictly with the book. This is even more difficult because you can neither add fiction to it, nor play around with it, you are restricted by the book.
I asked him (Sunil Bora) to make me meet Sanjaya Baru. I was immediately flown to New Delhi where I spent seven days with him. I am thankful to him that he spent so much time with me. We would discuss for hours together, one cup of tea after another. This meeting made me feel as if I am a part of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). And, he is such a good narrator that every story he told me, fascinated me. It was after this meeting that I decided to direct this film.
Q. How are you feeling since the film has already attracted so much controversy?
This is my first film, and we had announced that we are making this film two years back. The posters were out, and the shoot had started long back. There was no opposition then, even the book wasn’t opposed. For the last four years all this was in the public domain and there was no opposition. So why now? Why all these controversies just a few days before the film’s release?
Personally, it is very irritating to face this kind of opposition. I don’t want the movie to get political. I want people to see this movie as a movie. It is a very commercially entertaining film. It is not a political film, it is a humourous film. People should go and watch the film. It is not correct to form opinions about the film even before watching it.
Q. Tell us about the cast. How did you bring together such a huge cast for the film?
Hansal Mehta helped us with the casting. He is going to kill me for saying this, but he gave me six options for Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s character. We finalized the one who is actually a pani-puri vendor in Bihar. He would give me so many options, and I would be slow in finalising because we needed it to be accurate. The person who is playing Amar Singh is someone who actually belongs to the same village where Amar Singh hails from.
The process of casting went on for eight months before we finally had a cast. We never approached Suzanne (Bernert), who plays Sonia Gandhi. We originally had an Italian actress to play this role. Suzzane started bombarding everyone with her tweets and emails that she wants to audition for this role. She just barged into it, and we realised how good she was. We have done detailed research before doing anything in this film.