“No god is more important than our nation. No religion is more important than our independence and no prayer is more important than democracy,” says Narendra Modi, played by Ashish Sharma, in the trailer of the upcoming web series Modi: Journey of a Common Man. The three-minute clip was released on the streaming platform Eros Now on Tuesday.
The 10-part biographical series on Prime Minister Modi has been directed by Umesh Shukla (Oh My God, 2012, 102 Not Out, 2018). It will be out in April, though the date is yet to be announced. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be held from April 11 to May 19. A biopic on Modi, who is eyeing a second term in office, is also in the works and will be out on April 5.
The trailer for the web series depicts various snippets from Modi’s life, including his boyhood as a tea seller in Gujarat, his entry to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, his foray into politics as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and his rise up the party ranks. Modi served as Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 until 2014, when he assumed the post of prime minister. Faisal Khan, Ashish Sharma and Mahesh Thakur play Modi at different ages in the series.
The trailer also features the burning of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra on February 27, 2002, which killed 59 people, many of them Hindu karsevaks on their way back from Ayodhya. The incident was followed by communal riots across Gujarat, in which more than 1,000 people were killed, according to official estimates. In the trailer, Modi is implied as having been incorrectly implicated in the case. “He was loved, respected and accused,” it declares. Modi, in this segment played by Thakur, scolds a police officer saying “Don’t differentiate between the dead as Hindus and Muslims.”
Several leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its Hindutva ally, the Bajrang Dal, were convicted for killing Muslims in the riots. The state administration under Modi was accused of complicity in the violence against minorities, but Modi was acquitted by the Special Investigation Team which said there was “no prosecutable evidence” against him. Last year, an appeal was filed over Modi’s acquittal before the Supreme Court.
Opposition parties, meanwhile, moved Election Commission on Monday to delay the release of Omung Kumar’s biopic PM Narendra Modi, alleging that the timing of the film is politically motivated. The biopic stars Vivek Anand Oberoi as Modi, Manoj Joshi as BJP President Amit Shah, Zarina Wahab as Modi’s mother Heeraben, and Barkha Bisht as his estranged wife, Jasodhaben.
On Tuesday, 47 retired civil servants urged the chief election commissioner to stall the release of the film till after May 23, when the results of the Lok Sabha elections will be declared. “You [the chief election commissioner] will appreciate that such a film would create enormous electoral mileage for the Prime Minister and the party in power,” read their letter. “It is, therefore, necessary to examine whether the release of this biopic after the announcement of elections and the coming into force of the MCC [Model Code of Conduct] is consonant with the principles of a free and fair election.”