The political landscape has transformed colossally over the last few years. The fight for power in India was a pretty predictable process for more than a decade – frantic debates, campaigns on the streets, and an ocean of hoardings on every bit of brick. 

But it’s 2019, and things have changed. Politics has changed. Social media, online visibility, and pictures with celebrities hold as much sway as facts and figures. Which is why these elections might be the first to be fought in the theatres. 


It all started with the release of The Accidental Prime Minister in January. A movie based on the opposition during election year? Nothing quite like it had happened before, and people were quick to notice the timing. 

In a country as obsessed with Bollywood as ours, a high budget movie like this could significantly sway public opinion. The fact that Manmohan Singh was played by Anupam Kher (a vocal BJP supporter) was the ironic cherry on the cake. 


That iron cherry might have left a bad taste in your mouth, but it was just a starter. Within weeks, the film PM Narendra Modi was announced, played by Vivek Oberoi of all people. Things had suddenly gone from vaguely confusing to outright bizarre. 

This wasn’t a film about a long-dead leader like Churchill or Nehru, this was a film about a current Prime Minister who was still in office and would soon be fighting an election. 
It also seemed to portray Modi in an exceedingly positive light, so much so that the Election Commission was forced to look into it. However, the producers of the film claim it has nothing to do with the BJP.

The entire electoral process runs on a Model Code of Conduct, and the release of films glorifying political leaders subverts that code. 
Aligarh scriptwriter Apurva Asrani told Business Standard –

Overwhelmed by the pre-election line up of propaganda films. Never in my 23-year career have I seen cinema used so cunningly to influence votes. And while I think censorship & bans are totally undemocratic, I wish some credible talents hadn’t sold their souls to the propaganda mills.

It isn’t just propaganda films being peddled to the masses however, it’s also resorted to character assassination.

The film My Name Is RaGa is a low budget ‘biopic’ on Rahul Gandhi directed by Rupesh Paul that seems to portray him in a poor light. The director himself has admitted that ‘some BJP workers’ have backed the project. 


Hot on the heels of the biopic is a web series by Eros Now called Modi – The Journey of a Common Man. It chronicles – you guessed it – Modi’s life from his childhood to when he took oath as PM. It looks like yet another blatant glorification in a political space already overcrowded with propaganda. 

Even the film Uri, based on the 2016 surgical strikes, was politicised and accused of furthering a narrative that helped the ruling party. It seems to have given way to some polarising views among the public. 


A full fledged channel dedicated to the PM, titled NamoTV, has also popped up recently. The AAP has written to the EC questioning the move. We’re still waiting for Congress and the rest of the parties to join the bandwagon – it’s bound to happen soon. 

As surreal as the whole situation seems, the fact is we’re in the thick of it. The age of battling it out on the streets is over. This is how elections, at least in India, are now fought – with soda, popcorn, and 3D glasses.