EXCLUSIVE: Akshaye Khanna on The Accidental Prime Minister: Manmohan Singh doesn't need validation of any post

We got to meet Akshaye Khanna before the release of The Accidental Prime Minister and he spoke about his character of Sanjaya Baru and also shared his personal views about former PM Manmohan Singh.

Updated on Mar 25, 2019   |  05:42 PM IST  |  389.8K
EXCLUSIVE: Akshaye Khanna on The Accidental Prime Minister: Manmohan Singh doesn't need validation of any post

Akshaye Khanna is one of the powerful actors we have and he gives a thought to the characters he plays on the big screen. Every time he comes on the screen, he leaves an indelible impact on a viewer’s mind. The actor will be seen playing Sanjaya Baru, who was former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s media advisor from 2004 to 2008. The trailer of the film has sparked many debates, but Khanna is of the view that we should leave politics to the politicians. In his words - “The film will haunt you but in a nice way.” 

We got to meet Akshaye Khanna before the release of The Accidental Prime Minister and he spoke about his character of Sanjaya Baru and also shared his personal views about former PM Manmohan Singh. 

Here are excerpts from the interview:

It's always a challenge to portray a person who is alive and is a known personality on the big screen. Do you feel the same way as you are playing the role of Sanjaya Baru?

I didn't have that problem as Vijay didn't want me to imitate Sanjaya Baru. He didn't want me to look like him or talk like him. Vijay wanted to create his own character and we have shown him as the author of the book, The Accidental Prime Minister, but we haven't lifted his mannerisms. That was Vijay's creation completely. 

What prompted you to take up this role?

I loved the role and I loved the world they are talking about in the film. It's something that we haven't seen before and it was exceptionally written. The director also made sense and he is intelligent. Everything was just perfect. 

Did Sanjaya give you any insights on how to play this role on the big screen?

I have never met him. It was Vijay who has done everything. 

Bollywood usually avoids something that is completely political. Was there any point when you felt it's risky to play this character or to be a part of a film which is all about politics?

No, I never felt that way. My producer sat down with me and I asked him to convince me that this film will release before I even say a yes to this film. He sat with me for an entire day and we went through the entire legal conversations that he had with the best lawyers in the country. Tomorrow, anything can happen but legally whatever the preparations and permissions were required, our lawyers had made us sure that legally no one can stop you to release the film. 


What kind of preparations did you do for this role?

Nothing as Vijay did all the preparations and all the homework was done by him. No contribution is there from my end as far as this role is concerned. It's 100% Vijay's job and I just followed his instructions.

BJP tweeted the trailer of the film and post that, some people started tagging the movie as a propaganda film. What do you have to say about this?

I would say leave politics with the politicians. 

Did you personally like Manmohan Singh?

I personally loved him and till today, I have the highest regards for him. He is a big man and his stature and greatness and the way he has conducted himself in the public domain for over five to six decades is commendable. Had he not become the Prime Minister of India, he would have been as big a man he is today. He doesn't need the validation of any post and he is Manmohan Singh. No one in this world can dilute the kind of work he has done. He is a global figure and everyone has read his economic policies and documents. Vijay had everything in his mind when he shot the film and it has been shot keeping the respect of Manmahon Singh's stature in mind and for that office. 

Many people called Manmohan Singh, the silent Prime Minister. Will the movie finally break that myth or this notion?

What is wrong in saying that he was a silent Prime Minister as the man hardly spoke in entire life Forget when he was a Prime Minister, he was a silent person. He was not comfortable with talking to the public or in the Parliament. He has been reserved. Manmohan Singh has been a prominent figure in our lives for decades. It's all documented. 

Do you think Anupam Kher gave justice to the role as he bears an uncanny resemblance to Manmohan Singh?


It's a delight to watch Anupam Kher on the big screen. I have seen the film many times now and it's a very interesting interpretation of a person who is there in every Indian's heart and blood. Manmohan Singh is a very difficult character to play on screen. It's not easy to interpret it. Some people may love it and some may not. In the end, it's brilliant and it evokes a reaction from you. It's a very well thought-out performance. This film will haunt but in a nice way because whenever you think of it, you will have a smile on your face. 


What are your next projects?

I am starting a film called Section 375.

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Jan 09, 2019
The book was such a good read. Looking at these postures with Anupam in back ground, I feel like they are going to present a caricature of Manmohan singh. Irrespective of Manmohan singhs equation with Congress president and all the scams, lets not forget what a learned gentlman he is and his various positions at RBI, finance minister and PM. Kher and Akshay are good actors. But their make up in this posture looks so out of place. I just hope they dont take the essence out of the book and come up with their own sub versions.