After the success of Sacred Games and Mirzapur, political and crime thrillers set in the corridors of power have become a thing in Bollywood. Indian politics has a history of being mired in plenty of controversy, drama and action and provides ample inspiration for gripping political dramas – one that will keep audiences engaged throughout the runtime.
Madam Chief Minister featuring Richa Chaddha in the lead is the latest political drama to come out of Bollywood and while it may not be able to match the class and finesse of Raajneeti or Tandav, it follows closely behind and is an entertaining watch, though a little devoid of logic at places.
Set in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Madam Chief Minister follows an ambitious, young Dalit woman Tara Roopram (Chaddha) and her journey to becoming the Chief Minister of India’s most populous province. However, it doesn’t stop there. The film also shows Tara as she manoeuvres the ‘kursi‘ battling misogynist and racist allies and opposition.
According to reports in the Indian media, the plot of the film has been loosely inspired by the life and political career of Mayawati, India’s first Dalit chief minister. Dalits are a marginalised community and a Scheduled Caste in India and are considered to be ‘untouchables’. She was also the youngest chief minister in the history of UP and her rise in the world of politics was referred to as a “miracle of the democracy” by former Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao. Other characters, including Tara’s mentor Master Surajbhan (Saurabh Shukla) have also been inspired by Maya’s close associates. Master Surajbhan’s character has purportedly been based on the founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party Kanshi Ram. Nonetheless, creative liberty has been taken and Tara was given a husband, though Mayawati chose to remain unmarried.
While Chadda gave a solid performance as Tara and shouldered the role well, it was Manav Kaul, who shines as Danish Rehman Khan, Tara’s secretary and later husband. His performance, especially in the second half of the film was strong.
Written and directed by Shubash Kapoor, Madam Chief Minister is ambitious given how the makers tried to squeeze a lot into just two hours. The writing was weak with too many jumps, leaving plenty to be desired. However, it was entertaining, gripping and feel-good – especially where seeing a woman shine in the male-dominated world of politics is concerned.
On a parting note, the film doesn’t appear to have a very high budget which makes you wonder why Pakistan does not attempt to produce such thrillers. Not only are they entertaining but they also subtly pass messages and challenge societal norms.
Madam Chief Minister is currently trending in the top 10 on Netflix Pakistan.