Well-known film director, Umesh Shukla (Oh My God, 102 Not Out), is very happy with the digital medium for his debut Eros Now web series on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 10 episode Modi : Journey of a Common Man traces the political and personal life of the former from the days of the Emergency in 1975 to entering 7 RCR in 2014.
“When I first got this script, I knew that it had enough matter for around 400 hours. And if we tried to reduce all this into a film, we would lose a lot of the essence along with the length, due to the film grammar of needing a start, middle and end. Here we have not followed the linear method.”
“Also, given that we are talking of a contemporary political figure, pains have been taken to ensure that we have stayed true to the facts and nothing has been added extra for eyeballs. Having said that, we have not shot this like a document which normally depends on archival footage. We have shot it in real life places, where Modiji has lived.”
When asked about the possible political fallout as the release is smack in election season, he says, “I don’t think web series are seen like this. Also, since we have been working on this project for over a year, we wanted it to be out as soon as possible.”
“And most importantly, we have not tried to shy away from the truth. You will not only see the Gujarat riots but also proceedings of The Nanavati-Mehta Commission, which probed the happenings of 2002, starting with the Godhra train burning.”
Talking about casting Ashish Sharma and Mahesh Thakur as the young and older Modi respectively, Umeshji said, “I wanted good actors who were not overexposed, for if you have a set image, it takes lots of effort to undo it. They were clearly told not to mimic Modiji’s actions and characteristics, while portraying the essence of his life.”
In closing, Umesh regards Modi as a combination of Swami Vivekananda and Sardar Patel. “He is very strong-headed, yet very committed to his country. I hope that he watches my work so that I know whether my above mission has succeeded or not. I had not met him during the shoot. Our series is based on Kishor Makwana’s book on Modiji.”