Actor Vivek Oberoi, who is playing the role of Narendra Modi in an upcoming biopic on the prime minister, is on the list of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s star campaigners in Gujarat, PTI reported on Friday.
The list also includes Modi, party chief Amit Shah, and Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, according to ANI. Actors Hema Malini and Paresh Rawal, who are BJP MPs, are also on the list.
Polling for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections will be held in Gujarat on April 23, the third phase of the seven-phase elections.
The biopic, PM Narendra Modi, has been directed by Umesh Shukla and was earlier scheduled to be released on April 5. A new poster of the film, tweeted by Oberoi on Friday, says it will be released on April 11 now, which is the date of the first phase of the elections. The release date was reportedly postponed because the film had not yet received a censor certificate.
The film features Oberoi as the prime minister through various stages of his life – including his early years with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and his long stint as chief minister of Gujarat – leading up to his party’s victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The film is also facing legal hurdles. The Congress has moved the Election Commission against the film, alleging that it is a propaganda vehicle for the ruling party and thereby violates the Model Code of Conduct.
The poll panel had issued a notice to the makers of PM Narendra Modi and the BJP following the Opposition’s demand that the film’s release be postponed till the Lok Sabha elections are over. In response, the producers of the film – Anand K Pandit, Sandeep Ssingh, Manish Acharya and Suresh Oberoi – had said they have no link with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and that they had put in their personal money to make the film.
The Congress has also moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the film’s release till after the elections. The petition, filed by Congress leader Aman Panwar, alleges that the film was made to “manipulate, influence and impress viewers and voters”.
High Courts in Bombay, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh have already rejected petitions demanding a stay on the release of the film. The courts said they would not intervene in the matter as the Election Commission had take cognisance of the film. The Election Commission’s decision is expected soon.
Speaking to the media earlier this week, Oberoi defended the biopic. “Why are such senior and famous lawyers like Abhishek Singhvi ji and Kapil Sibal ji wasting time on filing a PIL on such a modest film? Don’t know if they are scared of the film or of chowkidar’s danda,” Oberoi said, referring to Modi’s description of himself as a guard, or chowkidar of the nation.
He also said, “We are not projecting Modi as a hero, he is already a hero.”