Advertisement

Updated January 19th, 2024 at 22:04 IST

Main Atal Hoon Review: Pankaj Tripathi Is Compelling In His Portrayal of Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Main Atal Hoon released in theatres on January 19. The film traces the life and political legacy of India's former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Main Atal Hoon
Main Atal Hoon | Image:IMDb
Advertisement

Biopics of late have become dime a dozen, with most final products overplaying their hand when it comes to dramatising a life once lived. Director Ravi Jadhav's Main Atal Hoon, however, is a breath of fresh air, bringing forth an honest and moving cinematic journey of one of India's foremost Prime Ministers - Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Pankaj Tripathi takes the lead in and as the level-headed yet emotionally driven Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart, carrying the film on his able shoulders.

Advertisement

Hot Take


The tussle between factual accuracy and dramatisation is a tricky scale to balance with filmmakers often evidently prioritising one over the other. The task at hand is tougher when viewed against the polarising context of a political trailblazer's life and work. Team Main Atal Hoon however, gets it just right. Rishi Virmanu's strong writing and Ravi Jadhav's sturdy direction armed with an overtly-committed Pankaj Tripathi, together mount an honest film about a very significant period in India's political history.

Advertisement

Does Main Atal Hoon live up to the hype?

In a recent interview with Republic Media Network's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, Pankaj Tripathi reflected on his concerns regarding his portrayal of Vajpayee and how he did not want it to be caricaturish. Director Jadhav and producer Vinod Bhanushali, however, right from the very beginning had been sure of Tripathi being the correct and only pick to essay the role.

Advertisement

Bang on in their foresight, it is safe to say that Main Atal Hoon is Tripathi's moment to shine as the 'hero'.

Advertisement

India's pivotal historical moments are Main Atal Hoon's backbone

Pankaj Tripathi stepping into the skin of Atal, and Atal becoming Atal Bihari Vajpayee - almost feels like a parallel journey as Tripathi's evidently conscious gait descends into an easeful posture through the course of the film. Timid steps tread big miles as Tripathi traverses Atal's biggest moments of becoming. Be it un-hoisting the British flag in rebellion, withstanding the Rashtra Dharma Patrika office being burnt down, rejoicing in the creation of the Akhil Bharatiya Jan Sangh, weeping at the deaths of his political forefathers or assuming charge as one of the country's most concerned voices of reason - the audience gets an authentic and often raw glimpse of the journey. 

Advertisement


Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Nagpur, Balarampur - the list goes on - Jadhav effectively manages to portray Vajpayee's honest journey through the grassroots to eventually lead the nation. The seeds of Ram Mandir on the Ram Janmabhoomi being ideologically laid down also makes for a goosebump-inducing montage in the film, especially considering the fact that the actual Pran Pratishtha ceremony itself is a mere few days away from being realised.

Advertisement

Pankaj Tripathi's homage to the former PM is almost meditative

Pankaj Tripathi shines in Main Atal Hoon. Atal Bihari Vajpayee's softness, his silence and his genuity  - facets that are usually deterrents in the tricky terrain of politics - make for his strongest weapons. Tripathi effectively captures the essence of this with an animated restraint that reigns supreme on the screen.

Advertisement

Key moments to watch out for is Atal walking into the Lok Sabha for the first time as the elected representative for Balarampur, his cinematised stint as the Minister of External Affairs under the Janata Party government and him delivering an allegory of lotuses blooming in the mud leading into the unveiling of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Advertisement

Main Atal Hoon has technical finesse

Despite being a statesman and eventually the Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a talented poet. Excerpts from his work have been extensively used by Jadhav, almost as a background score to set the tone for the film's crescendo moments, most of which are peppered with original archival footage. Virmanu's writing for the film is the highlight. However, the politically charged monologues intertwined with a heavy poetic aesthetic can at times feel overwrought. The political montages may feel too packed and hurried but are seminal in giving true context to the journey of Atal becoming Atal.

Advertisement

Watch it or skip it?

Politics is the pulse of Main Atal Hoon. The beautiful thing about this, however, is that the film is a fit for both political enthusiasts as well those self-admittedly out of touch with the same. If you identify with the former, Main Atal Hoon will make for an invigorating recap of India's glorious political history through the lens of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Advertisement

If you identify with the latter, the film will still make for a heartening history lesson - one you need.

Advertisement

Bottomline

Main Atal Hoon is a story that needed to be told. Pankaj Tripathi takes charge front and centre in one of his first big-banner titular roles. The film is an effective recapitulation of India's tumultuous yet formidable political history wrapped in the soft and sturdy aura of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Advertisement

Rating: 3.5/5

Advertisement

Published January 19th, 2024 at 21:58 IST

Your Voice. Now Direct.

Send us your views, we’ll publish them. This section is moderated.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Whatsapp logo