Thursday, May 30, 2024

Main Atal Hoon: A Tribute to the Man of Steel, but falls short in Storytelling

Nupur Jha 

On Friday, January 19, the much-anticipated biographical film Main Atal Hoon hit theatres, with Pankaj Tripathi portraying Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India’s former PM, under the direction of Ravi Jadhav.

The movie Main Atal Hoon takes inspiration from the Marathi book Atalji: Kavihridayache Rashtranetyachi Charitkahani by Sarang Darshane, focusing on the life journey of the former prime minister of India.

The story shines a light on Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s pivotal role during challenging times in the nation, such as the Kargil War, the Pokhran nuclear tests, and his significant contribution to establishing the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). The movie also explores his personality, ideology, and the struggles he had faced during his career.

Now, the big question is whether the movie truly captures the essence of India’s most prominent politician or falls into the common traps of Bollywood biopics. Here’s a detailed review to help you, if you are trying to decide whether to watch the movie:

Pankaj Tripathi, Cast, and Attention to Detail

The movie excels in capturing the essence of its characters and their nuances. Pankaj Tripathi, in particular, delivers a stellar performance, and supporting actors like Raja Khatri as Morari Desai, Gauri Sukkhtankar as Sushma Swaraj, Daya Shankar Panday as Pt. Deenadayal Upadhyaya, and Pramod Pathak as Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, all effortlessly embody their roles with authenticity.

Raja Rameshkumar Sevak, as L.K Advani, did a fantastic job showing the friendship and shared ideology between Advani and Atal.

Piyush Mishra, who played Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, Atal’s supportive father-turned-friend, impressively captures the bond of their father-son relationship. Additionally, Mishra’s narration adds depth to the storyline and events.

However, the true standout is Pankaj Tripathi, who convincingly portrayed the aged Atal and exhibited a remarkable command of language, dialect, and dialogue delivery. Whether delivering famous speeches or reciting poems, Tripathi goes beyond merely playing the character — he makes it feel like he is living it. The attention to detail in his pronunciation, grace, and body language adds authenticity to his portrayal.

Set Design, Cinematography & Music

The movie predominantly features wide-angle shots, creating a story with a subtle, desaturated look. This cinematographic choice effectively serves its purpose, and the meticulous detailing of different eras helps establish a clear timeline.

Lawrence D’Cunha’s work in cinematography shines through, skillfully capturing the natural transition from one era to another. The visual presentation convincingly transports the audience to pre- and post-independent India, showcasing a commendable attention to detail.

The musical elements, including songs like “Ram Dhun” by Kailash Kher and “Desh Phele” by Jubin Nautiyal, along with the background score composed by Monty Sharma, play a crucial role in evoking emotions and connecting with the audience. The music contributes significantly to the film’s atmosphere, successfully establishing the intended feelings in the viewers’ hearts.

Shaky Storyline, Direction & Characters

Ravindra Jadhav, a national award-winning filmmaker and director of “Main Atal Hoon,” attempted to cover the vast expanse of the leader’s life. The film portrays Atal from his childhood struggles with public speaking to his evolution into a charismatic leader celebrated for his poetry and speeches.

Jadhav ambitiously committed to showing various aspects, including Atal’s controversial relationship with Rajkumari, a college-time romantic interest whose family he had adopted at one point.

Besides having a lot on the plate, the movie faced challenges in establishing connections and emotions, making it difficult for the audience to engage with the unfolding events. The narrative jumps from one issue to another, including Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, the Emergency, the mysterious death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, communal riots, and highlighting the nation’s struggles. However, the screenplay fails to integrate all characters, events, and incidents seamlessly.

The film’s biggest problem was that it struggled due to information overload, erratic pacing, and abrupt transitions between events, which hindered the audience’s connection with the storyline and the characters.

While Pankaj Tripathi delivers a commendable performance, the limitations in his portrayal of the young RSS member and college student are evident. The romantic subplot with Rajkumari feels awkward and unnecessary.

Despite the shortcomings in the storyline, the director deserves credit for portraying the bold aspects of former PM’s life. However, the director could have focused on fewer events for better character development and more organic dialogues.

The film missed an opportunity to go deeper into Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s political journey, exploring the dynamics of political parties and his role in founding the Bharatiya Janata Party. The narrative fails to showcase the man loved even by the opposition, known for prioritizing the nation above all.

In summary, Main Atal Hoon struggles with its storytelling, but if you’re a fan of Pankaj Tripathi or enjoy films with great cinematography, it might still be worth checking out.

Rating : 6/10

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