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Akshay Kumar interviews Narendra Modi: PM's interview crafted to reach out to common man, resonate with hinterland

In its 10 April order banning the release of the biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Election Commission said “such creative content are kind of surrogate publicity… it is contended that these have the propensity and potentiality to affect the level playing field, which is not in consonance of Model Code of Conduct.” Ten days later, the Election Commission (EC) banned the streaming of a web series on the life of Modi. The EC did what it thought was right. It’s difficult to say how well people would have received the movie and web series on Modi, whether they would have liked some actor playing Modi in reel life when Modi’s real life persona is so towering, whether a vast number of people would have paid money and took trouble of going to the theatre.

Those who have known Modi and or closely watched Modi’s political and electoral journey would vouch for his innovativeness in devising a fresh and attractive campaign strategy. His non-political interview with actor Akshay Kumar, which touched the unknown personal aspects of his life coming ahead of remaining four phases of polling, could be taken as a new campaign experiment by the leader who is at the center of formal and informal public discourse these parliamentary elections.

 Akshay Kumar interviews Narendra Modi: PMs interview crafted to reach out to common man, resonate with hinterland

Narendra Modi's interview to Akshay Kumar. ANI

The hour-long conversation with the Bollywood actor was held in a most relaxed manner, but anyone who saw it telecast would know that a great deal of planning, coordination and high degree of technical expertise and related logistics went behind its programming. It was held in the kind of a backdrop never seen on Indian TV news for an interview with the prime minister, giving a visually delighting peek into the beautifully laid out 7 Lok Kalyan Marg bungalow.

Since this is not “creative content” and only an interview by the prime minister to a private broadcaster, conducted by a Bollywood actor, the EC can’t come into play. Modi, during the course of interview, said such a conversation was extremely relaxing, coming as it did during the heat and high-voltage electioneering.  An astute leader and strategist, Modi knows this interview will be watched by a far greater number of people through broadcast on all TV news channels and social media platforms than a biopic in a movie theatre or a web series for subscribers.

Modi emerged as a different man than what he is portrayed as by his opponents: Someone who loves to laugh, crack jokes, a motivator, a tough task master without being harsh, who depends on his instincts drawn from enriching and varied life experiences. It wouldn’t be wrong to suggest that this could influence minds of a section of fringe voters and would provide a fillip to his party workers and supporters.

His revelation that Trinamool chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, contrary to the public perception of being at odds with him,  sends him kurtas with boxes of Bengali sweets stirred up the political class. Before making that revelation, Modi said “shayad mera nuksan ho sakta hai” (maybe it will hurt me) which makes it an even bigger talking point given that Mamata and Modi are fighting a high-pitched political battle in West Bengal. Thus far, there has been no response from Mamata.

Modi revealed that he sleeps only for three-and-a-half hours a night and relies on naturopathy when he suffers from cough and cold. He narrated an anecdote from his younger days about an incident in Pune to say he was not a 'samajwadi’ (someone who is pretentious in public life) but was an 'amdawadi’ (real and focused).

His most interesting response, which would be of interest to policy planners and educationists, and could also be used to set a political narrative against Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) scheme was to a query on what he'd ask for if he had three wishes. Modi said all social scientists and educationists should consider deleting this story from texts for the benefit of the youths and instead focus on telling them to work harder.

Modi's interview was crafted in a manner to allow him to relate to the common man and resonate with the hinterland. Modi's experiences are commonplace, yet he used them to show how a person with a sharp and determined mind rose from the ranks of the humble to become prime minister.  In the election season, when RSS is working hard for Modi's reelection, the prime minister had a word of praise for the BJP's ideological fountainhead for inculcating in him discipline and team spirit through the games he played at Sangh Shakas during his youth.

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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2019 17:20:40 IST