In recent years, Bollywood has shown a growing interest in biopics, and one of the latest additions to this genre is Mai Hu Atal, a movie that delves into the extraordinary life of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, one of India's most revered leaders. Directed by Ravi Jadav and starring the talented Pankaj Tripathi, the film aims to capture the essence of Vajpayee's remarkable journey as a political stalwart. While crafting a biopic on a political figure can be challenging, especially when it comes to presenting an unbiased account, Vajpayee's clean and non-controversial image makes the task somewhat easier.
The Life and Achievements of Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Atal Bihari Vajpayee's life was marked by his exceptional oratory skills, organizational abilities, and his ability to win over both supporters and opponents. From his decades-long political career to his major accomplishments, it is a monumental task to encapsulate Vajpayee's life in a two-hour film. Mai Hu Atal takes a concise approach, providing the audience with an overview of Vajpayee's life, his remarkable endeavors, and his ideologies as a leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the founder of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), India's ruling party.
The Narrative of Mai Hu Atal
Inspired by Sarang Darshane's book, Atalji: Kavihridayache Rashtranetyachi Charitkahani, the movie begins with the Kargil War, a significant event during Vajpayee's reign. It then takes us back in time, introducing a young and timid Atal who struggles to deliver a speech and flees the stage in embarrassment. Witnessing his son's humiliation, Atal's father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, portrayed by Piyush Mishra, imparts wise words on how to impress people with his words. The story then fast-forwards, presenting a young Atal as an enthusiastic RSS member and college student-activist. He goes on to study law, dedicating his entire life to the Sangh. Through his eloquence, he earns praise and leaves a lasting impression on everyone he meets. However, Mai Hu Atal does not delve deep into the events of Vajpayee's life, leaving many questions unanswered and failing to fully capture the essence of such a passionate and prominent personality.
The Execution and Writing of the Film
In biopics, the content is crucial, but equally important is how impactfully the story is presented. Directed by Ravi Jadhav, a National Award-winning director, Mai Hu Atal suffers from an undeviating narrative, resulting in a somewhat unimpactful watch. Additionally, the film's sketchy portrayal gives it a theatrical feel, which may not resonate well with the audience. When depicting the life of a public figure, it is imperative to keep the film as realistic as possible to enhance relatability. Unfortunately, many iconic scenes, such as Vajpayee's famous 1996 no-confidence motion and his stirring speech at Ramleela Maidan in 1977, fail to impress due to their lackluster recreation.
The first half of the film, scripted by Rishi Virmanu, struggles to make an impact. The fast-paced plot and the rush to cover all the major events prevent the film from fully captivating the audience. For those already familiar with Vajpayee's life, it may be easier to follow, but younger viewers may find themselves resorting to multiple Google searches to understand the historical context. However, the film picks up in the second half, focusing on key milestones in Vajpayee's life, such as the formation of the BJP, the bus ride to Pakistan, and the Pokhran nuclear test. Unfortunately, the film's hurried approach and excessive dramatization undermine its ability to create the desired impact.
Pankaj Tripathi's Portrayal of Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Pankaj Tripathi, a versatile and realistic actor, brings his unique talent to the role of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Known for his comedic roles, Tripathi's portrayal required significant effort and dedication. Throughout the film, he infuses his performance with emotions, delivering speeches and dialogues that evoke a sense of authenticity. However, the writing of the film occasionally falls short, leading to instances where Tripathi's acting appears forced and overly dramatic. Despite this, Tripathi manages to do justice to the role to the best of his abilities. Notably, Piyush Mishra's portrayal of Atal's father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, stands out as a striking performance amidst a cast that generally fails to capture the essence of their characters.
While Mai Hu Atal benefits from its subject matter, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the film's overdramatization hampers its overall impact. The leader's words, historic achievements, and initiatives continue to resonate with millions of Indians, making the film's portrayal of his life important and relevant. However, the rushed narrative, lack of realism, and underwhelming character portrayals detract from the film's potential. Despite its flaws, Mai Hu Atal may still appeal to those who appreciate the profound lines of the revered leader and seek a glimpse into his remarkable journey.