The biopic PM Narendra Modi will not be released on April 5 as scheduled because it allegedly hasn’t received a censor certificate, according to various reports. The Vivek Anand Oberoi-starrer is reportedly aiming to be out in cinemas on April 12, which was the original release date.
The controversial production is widely being seen as a barely disguised propaganda vehicle for the prime minister and his Bharatiya Janata Party as they seek a second term in office. The multi-phase Lok Sabha elections that will decide the party’s fate will be held between April 11 and May 19, with the results being declared on May 23.
One of the film’s producers, Sandeep Ssingh, confirmed the delay on Twitter, but did not give any details.
Responding to complaints that the release violates the electoral code of conduct, producers Anand Pandit, Acharya Manish, Sandeep Ssingh and Suresh Oberoi told the Election Commission last week that they had no connection with the BJP. On Monday, the High Courts of Delhi and Bombay rejected petitions seeking a stay on the release.
Satish Gaikwad, the petitioner who moved the Bombay High Court, told Mumbai Mirror that he would be filing a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court to demand that the Election Commission of India block the release until after the elections. “Our contention is that the ECI is acting in collusion and not taking action,” Gaikwad’s lawyer, Tosif Shaikh, told Mumbai Mirror.
The cradle-to-2014 film, directed by Omung Kumar, traces Modi’s evolution through various phases of his life, including his enrollment in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, his long stint as chief minister of Gujarat, and his elevation to a national role in 2014. The trailer suggests a heavily partisan portrait.
In an interview on NDTV on Tuesday, Vivek 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.
The movie was rushed into production in late January. The poster was launched by Devendra Fadnavis, BJP leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister, in Mumbai, and the production has been wrapped up in record time. PM Narendra Modi is targetting a release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. The cast includes Manoj Joshi as Amit Shah, Zarina Wahab as Modi’s mother, Prashant Narayanan as a crooked businessman, and Barkha Bisht, as Modi’s estranged wife, Jasodhaben.
At the movie’s trailer launch in Mumbai two weeks ago, Oberoi was asked about the timing of the release. “Modi hai to mumkin hai,” replied the actor, who came dressed as his character to the event.
Another Modi celebration, a ten-part web series directed by Umesh Shukla, has been partially released on Eros Now. Five of the 10 episodes that comprise Modi: Journey of a Common Man were released on the streaming platform on Wednesday. The series stars Faisal Khan, Ashish Sharma and Mahesh Thakur as Modi at different ages. The episodes that are out cover Modi’s childhood and his experiences during the Emergency between 1975 and 1977.
This story has been updated to reflect a statement by one of the film’s producers confirming the delay.