Poets rarely assume positions of power. By standards maintained today, words and influence are difficult to maintain. When a politician is poised to stand up against two regimes, he finds his ground with a certain grit. His ability to win people over was with a child-like charm. However, when things turned on its head, this leader never shied away from taking the reins and charging forward. This film captures Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s first-hand accounts of how certain events led him on the path of politics. After his predecessors pass away suddenly, they lay the burden of the party over his shoulders to turn the countrymen’s heads towards him with pride.
Vajpayee’s journey from a freedom fighter to a beloved leader is briefly covered in the film, initially inspired by Sarang Darshane’s book,‘Atalji: Kavihridayache Rashtranetyachi Charitkahani’. The story encapsulates most of his significant accomplishments, turning points, and well-known figures that he oversaw and joined his party at the time. Archival video was used to depict in real time several significant events, such as the Pokhran Nuclear Test, the bus yatra from India to Pakistan, and the Kargil War helping the viewer string together his lifetime’s lengthy history.
His tenure had many issues and the film documents these chronicles carefully, which could only be further understood if one does their due diligence towards Indian History patiently. As the eloquent poet, politician, statesman, and gentleman that we know Atal Bihari Vajpayee to be, Pankaj Tripathi sets an angelic halo around the portrayal of the 10th Prime Minister of India. Beyond gestures and speech patterns, the actor captures all the subtleties of his character flawlessly. However, acclaimed director-writer Ravi Jadhav and co-writer Rishi Virmani are careful of the view and perspective they depict of him.
With the opening of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya so close to this film’s release, certain events were not shown. Mainly the many disagreements that slowly shifted waters in the Lok Sabha and his criticism of our current Prime Minister were kept under wraps. However, if this angle was explored, we would understand his character arc better. An opportunity missed while this remains a film that makes his image glow brightly in any child’s mind. Speaking of children, we see him as a child with his father who was a force of life in itself. The relationship they share shows us why and how he can think ahead just like how his father once did for him.
Up until the interval, the movie runs at a deeply immersive pace making you experience his emotional climb. In the second part, when the story moves to the height of his political career, the pace quickens. Towards the end of the film, we are pulled into listening to the song lyrics and poetry recitations by Vajpayee thus bringing an elegant close to this stalwart’s life chapter.