‘Main Atal Hoon’ : Pankaj Tripathi Shines in this Homage to Vajpayee’s legacy

By Dhaval Roy

Story: The biopic follows the life and times of the former Prime Minister of India, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It also chronicles the various facets of his personality and the country’s achievements under his leadership.

Review: Making a biopic on a stalwart like the 10th Prime Minister of India, Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is no mean feat. While the creators must weave a cohesive narrative from an exhaustive chronicle, the actor must portray the role befittingly. Main Atal Hoon stands out in both regards. Pankaj Tripathi delivers a pitch-perfect performance as Vajpayee, a poet, politician, statesman, and gentleman. Besides the mannerisms and speech, the actor perfectly nails the nuances of his personality. On the other hand, award-winning director-writer Ravi Jadhav (Natrang, Taali, etc.) and co-writer Rishi Virmani come up with aces in chronicling the life and times of one of the most admired figures in India.

Inspired by Sarang Darshane’s book, Atalji: Kavihridayache Rashtranetyachi Charitkahani, the movie succinctly covers Vajpayee’s journey from being a freedom fighter to a revered leader. The narrative summarises all the prominent influences, pivotal events, and important achievements under his leadership. From the Kargil War, the bus yatra from India to Pakistan, and the Pokhran Nuclear Test, many crucial episodes have been depicted through archival footage, making the narrative more engaging and authentic. However, the audience may need knowledge of Indian politics to understand a few parts of the movie. Although a narrator sets the context regularly, it would have helped to have some background in these portions.

The film initially moves at a steady pace but slows intermittently until the interval. It picks up its speed again in the second half when the narrative shifts towards the peak of his days as a politico. Besides its writing and direction, the biopic boasts stellar cinematography by Lawrence Alex Dcunha. The movie is a visual treat, from silhouettes to camerawork enhancing important scenes. Salim-Sulaiman, Payal Dev, Kailash Kher, and Amritraj provide a soundtrack that evokes inspiration, and Monty Sharma’s background score makes the narrative more powerful. The use of Vajpayee’s poetry recitation and lyrics in songs also add to the appeal.

While Pankaj Tripathi shines as Vajpayee and looks like his replica, especially in long shots, Raja Rameshkumar Sevak, as LK Advani, looks extraordinarily similar to the senior leader. Other political figures, such as Sushma Swaraj (Gauri Sukhtanker) and Arun Jaitley (Yogendra Patwal), have also been portrayed perfectly. Vajpayee’s relationship with his father, Krishna Bihari Vajpayee (Piyush Mishra), is heartwarming and even elicits a few chuckles. The depiction of his equation with his classmate and long-time friend Rajkumari Kaul, nee Haksar (Ekta Kaul), is pleasant. Although the movie touches upon how Vajpayee met his adopted daughter, Namita Bhattacharya (Kaul), their relationship could have been elaborated.

The film’s narrative, treatment, and stellar portrayal by Pankaj Tripathi will leave you enamoured. Watch this movie that will fill you with admiration for one of the most significant political figures in India. — Times of India