Modi A Common Man’s Journey Review: Tracking Narendra Modi’s Life Like An Admirer
The new Eros Now web series tracks different phases of Narendra Modi's life. The show is based on a book.
A still from the web series, 'Modi: Journey Of A Common Man'.
Each episode of the web series on Prime Minister Narendra Modi titled Modi: A Common Man’s Journey, which is streaming on Eros Now, begins with the following disclaimer: “This film/series is based on the book, ‘Common Man’s PM - Narendra Modi’ authored by Mr Kishore Makhwana, on the life of Mr Narendra Damodardas Modi. All characters, events, and incidents are based on the book and have been fictionalized for dramatization. Utmost care has been taken to keep the screenplay accurately aligned to the book. The film is a hybrid of fact and fiction…”
As audience, one might find it hard to differentiate between the fact and fiction. The director Umesh Shukla keeps an even tone. This is in stark contrast with the trailer of Vivek Oberoi-starrer PM Narendra Modi, which seems lopsided. However, that doesn’t give Shukla any clean-chit.
Based on the hagiography written by Makhwana, the series truly abides by the book, and upholds the popular narrative about Modi’s humble beginnings as a chaiwala, something he extensively used during his campaigns.
The series projects Modi exactly as his supporters and admirers view him -- a strong leader, a dedicated nationalist, and a devout Hindu -- and also makes it a point to show the viewers his kind-heartedness and his sense of civic morality. In the first episode, we hear Modi telling his friend that for almost two months, he had taken ‘jadi buti’ (herbs) for his ailing elderly neighbour. We witness a young Modi standing up against his lazy physical training teacher who doesn’t teach the class marching as regularly as he should and yet punishes everyone for not coordinating perfectly while marching.
We also see him engage in an intellectual discussion about spirituality and nationalism with a bunch of sadhus. The onscreen version of Modi spouts Swami Vivekananda’s philosophical sayings like, “Pratiksha nahi, prayaas” (efforts over anticipation) and shows his love for the Indian army by giving soldiers free cups of tea. There is also a scene where we see him feeding a cow lovingly and respectfully doing a ‘pranam.’
The series takes place in two different timelines. In one timeline we see an adolescent Modi (played by Faisal Khan) getting one moral science lesson after another. He is mostly engrossed in a spiritual quest, looking for the purpose of his life. The other timeline takes place on the backdrop of the 1975’s emergency, imposed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. A 20-something Modi, as a young RSS member, organising secret meetings against the imposed emergency, and sensitizing citizens to stand up for their freedom.
The actor playing Modi’s role says, “Rashtra Se Badkar Koi Ishwar Nahi. Aazadi Se Badkar Koi Dharm Nahi, Prajatantra Se Badkar Koi Puja Nahi.”
The first five episodes of the series is shown mostly from the perspective of RSS workers who are trying to fight against the oppressive regime of Indira Gandhi during the emergency. There is also extensive conversations about Hindu ideology and true meaning of being spiritual.
The last five episodes of the series are yet to be available online, but if the trailer of the show is any indication, those episodes will show how Modi climbed through the BJP ranks and became the Prime Minister of the country.
For most parts, this series feel like a documentary where anything controversial about the prime minister do not find a place and he is projected as a great nationalist leader. Although the controversial Gujarat riots are depicted in the trailer of the series, it projects Modi as a harbinger of peace, and against any sort of communal discord.
The biopic on the prime minister, titled PM Narendra Modi, had kicked up a storm in the last few months, with opposition leaders calling it an infomercial to promote a flattering image of the prime minister during the Lok Sabha election, and the ECI (Election Commission of India) staying the release of the film saying that, “any Biopic material in nature of biography sub serving the purpose of any political entity or any individual entity connected to it, which has potential to disturb level playing field during the election, should not be displayed in Electronic media including cinematograph during the operation of Model Code of Conduct”.
However, this web series that too projects Modi in an admiring light and was released during the operation of Model Code of Conduct, had barely drawn any attention. Eros Now, very unceremoniously began streaming this show recently. Indian Express reported that the Election Commission has been notified about it by the Delhi Chief Electoral Officer, who has written to the panel stating that Eros Now is streaming this series ‘without certification from the media certification and monitoring committee (MCMC).’
The Indian Express quoted a source at Delhi Chief Electoral Officer’s office saying that, “We have brought to the notice of the ECI that a series on PM Narendra Modi is being screened on the Eros Now platform without MCMC certification from us. We have told them that this it is not Delhi specific and is a pan-Indian content, so they may take cognizance of the matter.”
In the meantime, Supreme Court has directed the Election Commission to decide on postponing the biopic of Modi only after watching the film.
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