Are Political Biopics Biased?

At the time when political parties are increasingly using films to promote their public image, movies like The Accidental Prime Minister (based on a book of the same name) and Thackeray will not surprise the Indian audience. Perhaps, the only thing that has surprised the audience is the uncanny timing at which the political parties have chosen to launch these films. These politically charged films have been released when the Lok Sabha elections are fast approaching. There is widespread allegation against these movies for being biased towards the opposition which might be true up to an extent.

BJP has made sure of leaving no stones unturned. Even the trailer of the movie The Accidental Prime Minister was shared on their social media pages. However, the Congress fumed over the scenes that ridicule their current chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi. The B.J.P has played its trump card well. With the release of films like The Accidental Prime Minister and Uri, the BJP managed to highlight the beneficial policies implemented by the NDA government and also projected the opponents’ weakness and wrongdoings. Following the trend, many political parties from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have started to produce biopics on their leaders too.

Using films to promote a particular party’s ideology is not new in the Indian political scenario. However, the fact that both the films were released close to the Indian general elections makes one ponder on the legitimacy of these films. Moreover, the phenomenon questions democratic values—should such blatant propaganda through cinema be discouraged or should it be left to the audience’s discretion. Such questions can seriously boggle the minds of those who advocate democracy and free speech. The public opinion on this issue is divided too. Some claim to support the discouragement of propaganda films, whereas others vehemently dissent the idea. One thing nobody can deny is the large scale buzz these films are generating for their so called insight on the secrets of infamous events.

If one questions the honesty in the depiction of the life of these so called great leaders, the answer is no, because the content of these films are too controversial. In worst case scenarios, the directors of such films are biased or they are supporters of the party (in most cases). The film, therefore, deviates drastically from factual reality to glorify the leader. Such movies function as the mouth piece of political parties. But nowadays, realising the viewers’ intellect, many political parties indulge in soft apotheosis of their party’s deities. They show a petty flaw to make the character look real, but at the same time the other major flaws are whitewashed to heighten a positive image.

The fact that India has a huge number of politically illiterate populations is definitely a factor influencing the impact of these films. In most cases, it is these kind of people who actually take such films to their hearts. These beliefs can even affect the election results and seriously hamper the chances of a fair democracy. Although many may argue that everybody has a chance to repeat the same errors, there is still an underlying market for the life stories of some prominent personalities. The glorification of hate is another issue that needs to be addressed. When films bend history to glorify divisive figures, it creates a chance for the people to forget the negative impacts that these personalities had had on the society. It turns a blind eye towards the seriousness of the crimes and makes the future questionable. This is the kind of policy that promotes people like Hitler and Stalin. The movies solely focus on the positive narrative but disregard the horrendous after effects that harm or impede development. Thus it is necessary that we Indians practice discretion and pay attention towards biases in any narrative, thereby protecting the promotion of divisive figures in Indian politics.

Picture Courtesy- The Week

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