Osama Bin Laden. Al Qaida. Pak-sponsored terrorism. Coalition government. Hung parliament... Dev Anand tackles all these topics and more in MR. PRIME MINISTER. Only thing, instead of seriously pondering over these issues, the moviegoer cannot help but break into laughter since the execution of the subject is unintentionally funny.
Sample this: Dev Anand is a poor person, not having ample money to repair his torn shoes, but he carries a sleek mobile phone and suddenly wears designer outfits when he meets the Raja Sahab [Mohan Joshi]. More... The young terrorist [Tara Sharma] has a change of heart when he merely asks her about her past [is it so simple for terrorists to have a change of heart?] and chooses Dev Anand over a young stud [Dev Gill]. By the way, check out the lip locks between Dev Anand and a foreign actress.
In a nutshell, MR. PRIME MINISTER is akin to a 1970 film in terms of treatment, with Dev Anand dominating every single frame of the film.
However, irrespective of the merits of his films, you have to give it to Dev Anand for at least making an attempt to produce his kind of cinema. The octogenarian chooses stories that feature him in the central role [of course!], but you can't deny the fact that he has something different to say every time he attempts a film.
MR. PRIME MINISTER can also classify into the 'typical Dev Anand film' category, without an iota of doubt. Unfortunately, unlike Navketan's earlier films that Dev Anand directed -- DES PARDES and HARE RAMA HARE KRISHNA -- this one comes across as a jaded effort by an amateur.
Johnny Master [Dev Anand] is a well-read elderly person selling newspapers in a small, earthquake-ravaged, but now reasonably rehabilitated township in Kutch. Johnny had in fact come out of the debris of the catastrophe after lying buried underneath for two days and nights.
The government declares elections. The sarpanch [Anjan Srivastava] and the residents of the township decide to form their own political party and make Johnny Master their chosen candidate for his forthright openness and honesty and his erudite educational background. They win hands down and Johnny becomes the people's elected representative in parliament.
However, his opponents in the elections [Prem Chopra, Mohan Joshi, Anant Jog] join hands and have him kidnapped and subsequently tortured by their henchmen [Shahbaaz Khan and stooges]. In a very cruel and dastardly act of torture inflicted on him, Johnny Master regains his memory only to discover that he is Prem Batra, the richest Indian residing in England. And on the very day of his arrival, he had become a victim of the earthquake tragedy.
He declares his real self to the kidnappers, buys them over and goes back to England as Prem Batra, only to realize that he is also in a position to buy over the corrupt lot of politicians elected to parliament.
Dev Anand has penned the script himself besides directing the film and in both the vital departments it looks like a slipshod piece of work. Bappi Lahiri's music is another sore point. Unlike Navketan's earlier ventures, the score here is strictly functional. The rap song before the end credits also looks forced. Cinematography [Chaman K. Baju] is alright. However, there's very little of Europe in the film.
A Dev Anand film gives minimal scope to other actors to stand on their feet. Dev Anand takes the maximum footage himself and the camera follows him from start to end. Tara Sharma is okay, while Dev Gill is fair. The film has a number of characters [Milind Gunaji, Mohan Joshi, Prem Chopra, Anant Jog, Anjan Srivastava and Boman Irani], but all get eclipsed in an enterprise like this.
On the whole, MR. PRIME MINISTER will arrive without a bang and leave without a whimper.