'Review': 'Main Atal Hoon' is a 'text-bookish' tribute to Vajpayee's life backed by Tripathi's compelling act

Director Ravi Jadhav's 'Main Atal Hoon' is a sincere visionary effort that, unfortunately, falls short of evolving into a compelling biographical drama.

Main Atal Hoon movie review

Main Atal Hoon movie review

Amidst the spiritual, patriotic and subtle political fervor surrounding the Ram Mandir Pran Pratishta in India, the year of election and Republic Day, Ravi Jadhav's film 'Main Atal Hoon' is poised to make a timely entrance, aiming to chronicle the life of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The narrative delves into Vajpayee's political legacy, statesmanship, and the intricacies of his personal life. Coincidentally, this release aligns with the current political landscape. Whether the film leans towards propaganda or strives for historical accuracy remains to be seen. However, one undeniable aspect is the performance of Pankaj Tripathi, who emerges as the savior of this biographical political drama. It's advisable to temper any preconceived expectations, as the film may not meet all anticipated standards. Having had the chance to watch the film, this is what I feel about it.

Ravi Jadhav's Vision and Execution

  Ravi Jadhav's Vision and Execution

Ravi Jadhav's bold attempt to delve into a sensitive chapter of India's political history deserves acknowledgment. The choice of Pankaj Tripathi as the face of Vajpayee earns him brownie points, but it's the execution that falters. The film kicks off by painting a vibrant picture of Vajpayee's childhood and his endearing relationship with his father, initially steering towards a lighthearted narrative. Surprisingly, it takes an unexpected romantic detour, catching me off guard as someone who's only known Vajpayee through the lens of history books and anecdotes. Unfortunately, the initial part of the film becomes a tedious experience, with moments that almost had me nodding off.

The second half, however, takes a dramatic turn, spotlighting Vajpayee's ascension as a political figure. Yet, the narrative leans heavily on Vajpayee's political achievements, particularly his leadership during the Kargil War, his role in the formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), external affairs, and making India a nuclear power. While the first half strives to explore the shaping of young Atal and his entry into politics, the latter part transforms into a documentary-like showcase, with Tripathi meticulously recreating historical events. Yet, these events unfold like the pages of a textbook, needing more dynamism to truly engage the audience.

Pankaj Tripathi trying his best

Pankaj Tripathi trying his best

Pankaj Tripathi impeccably embodies the role, emerging as the ideal choice to delve into the inner emotions and nuances of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. His portrayal skillfully captures Vajpayee's poetic essence and eloquent oratory, showcasing a near-flawless command of Hindi. However, there are moments when the gestures appear slightly exaggerated, particularly hand movements. While his articulation is spot-on, and the overall persona exudes conviction, there are instances where a sense of detachment creeps in. Tripathi shines in scenes portraying Vajpayee delivering speeches and participating in parliamentary sessions, which emerge as the film's strong points, commanding your undivided attention.

Other Performances and Casting

Other Performances and Casting

The film's supporting cast, particularly the portrayal of key political figures from Atal Bihari Vajpayee's orbit, stands out as a formidable asset. Notably, the casting of Sushma Swaraj, Lal Krishna Advani, Pramod Mahajan, and Arun Jaitley hits the bullseye. These actors inject substantial gravitas into the occasionally faltering screenplay. Ekta Kaul, in her role as Rajkumari, delivers a standout performance, giving her best to the character. Even brief appearances by the likes of APJ Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh, and Sonia Gandhi manage to captivate attention in fleeting moments.

Playing It Safe

Playing It Safe

The film deliberately steers clear of delving into the contentious aspects of the narrative. While it subtly alludes to a party's influence in managing Hindu-Muslim tensions, the unfolding of the Babri Masjid-Ayodhya incident refrains from a detailed exploration of any particular episode. Instead of zooming in to scrutinize the nuanced complexities, be it in this case or Operation Blue Star or emergency,  the narrative opts for a broader brushstroke, attributing negative aspects solely to the opposition, akin to real-life dynamics. 

The Verdict

The Verdict

Director Ravi Jadhav's 'Main Atal Hoon' is a sincere visionary effort that, unfortunately, falls short of evolving into a compelling biographical drama. Instead, it descends into a textbook-like documentary, where events unfold in a sequential manner, all with Pankaj Tripathi as the central figure. However, it lacks the crucial infusion of depth into Atal Bihari Vajpayee's life, leaving the portrayal feeling somewhat superficial and missing the emotional resonance one would expect from a biopic.


**1/2 (2.5/5) stars

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Pankaj Tripathi Thumbnail

Pankaj Tripathi

Ekta Kaul Thumbnail

Ekta Kaul

Ravi Jadhav Thumbnail

Ravi Jadhav

Main Atal Hoon poster

Main Atal Hoon

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