On Wednesday morning, the world woke up to the announcement that Anupam Kher will play former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a film adaptation of Sanjay Baru’s book The Accidental Prime Minister.
Even the censor chief Pahlaj Nihalani saw the announcement and was very happy for Kher. Says Nihalani appreciatively, “He’s such a versatile actor. At the age of 28 he had played an old man so brilliantly in Saaraansh. I am sure he will do full justice to Manmohan Singhji’s character, though it would have to be more expressions than words. As we all know, Manmohan Singhji hardly speaks. I am sure the dialogue writer would not have much to contribute to the character.”
However Nihalani warns that the film’s makers would have to abide by the rudimentary guideline regarding all films based on real-life characters. “The makers of The Accidental Prime Minister –producer Sunil Bohra, etc.–would have to get an NOC (No Objection Certificate) from Manmohan Singhji, Sonia Gandhiji and all the other real-life politicians who are part of the narrative. This rule applies without fail. There are no exceptions. And although my current tenure as the CBFC chairperson ends in January 2018 and this film will come up for censorship after that, I am sure the guidelines regarding bio-pics would remain unchanged.”
We wonder if the film’s team is aware of this. Replies Nihalani, “I am sure they are. Anupam Kher was himself the CBFC chairperson not too long so. Ashoke Pandit who considers himself a part of the CBFC, is also a part of the film on Manmohan Singhji. And Hansal Mehta who is writing the film claims to be victim of the censorship guidelines every time his film is on release. I can’t imagine how these people cannot be aware of the ‘NOC’ required for censor clearance of films based on real-life figures.”