Banners: ROMP Pictures, Aham
Producers: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra,
Arpit Vyas, Saloni Vyas, PS Bharathi,
Rajiv Tandon, Dhaval Jayantilal Gada,
Aksshay Jayantilal Gada
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Anjali Patil, Om Kanojiya, Makrand
Deshpande, Niteesh Wadhwa, Adarsh
Bharti, Prasad, Syna Anand, Atul Kulkarni
Writers: Manoj Mairta, Rakeysh
Omprakash Mehra, Hussain Dalal
The end credits of Mere Pyare Prime Minister are decidedly unique, peppered as they are with facts like these: 300 million women in India do not have access to toilets; 50 per cent of women who defecate in the open are raped. But that is not what the film is about. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s film does speak about these issues but, at the end of that day, the film is a mother-son story and follows a son’s effort to make his mother’s life safe and happy.
Kanaiyha aka Kanhu lives with his mother Sargam in the Gandhi Nagar slums. While most homes in this locality have the so-called basic amenities, what they don’t have is a toilet. Open defecation is a way of life. While the men have the luxury of relieving themselves any time and anywhere, women and girls can only do so under the cover of darkness.
On one such occasion, Sargam is raped by a police officer. Initially disturbed by the incident, she slowly gets back to her routine, thanks to her friendly neighbour and Pappu, a newspaper vendor who has a soft spot for her. But the incident leaves an impact on Kanhu and he decides that he needs to build a toilet for his mother so that she is not hurt again. His endeavour takes him to Delhi, where he gives a letter requesting the Prime Minister to build a toilet and of course it all ends on a happy note.
Mere Pyare Prime Minister has been shot on location, which means the slums you see are real. This is probably one of the biggest factors that connects you to the stark reality of the narrative. The story does not spend time trying to establish the characters. We are immediately introduced to Sargam and Kanhu’s lives and the relationship they share. The story drags a little in the middle, and the ending seems too perfect, but full credit to the writers and the director for sticking to the central plot.
While the camera captures the slums, at no point does it become uncomfortable. Pawel Dyllus has done a good job, especially the scenes with the children on the pipelines against the skyscraper skyline and the close-up shots of Kanhu and Sargam, which are beautifully shot. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music does not hinder the narrative and Gulzar’s lyrics are soothing.
Casting is on point and that is why the performances work. Anjali Patil as Sargam and Om Kanojiya as Kanhu are the heart and soul of Mere Pyare Prime Minister. The mother-son relationship they share is very natural and at no point does the acting appear fake or rehearsed. Niteesh Wadhwa as Pappu is sincere. One wishes that his character had more scenes, especially the Pappu-Sargam relationship which could have been explored further. But what we do get to see is sweet and well executed.
The highlight of the film is the performance of the children who play Kanhu’s friends – Adarsh Bharti as Ringtone has some of the funniest lines and he plays his part with swag. Syna Anand as Mangla and Prasad as Nirala make this quartet a treat to watch. Makrand Deshpande as Mangla’s father Sainath is decent. Atul Kulkarni in a special appearance is dignified.
Verdict: A must watch!