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Madam Chief Minister review: Richa Chadha’s political drama is entertaining

Release Date: 22 Jan 2021


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Keyur Seta

Subhash Kapoor's directorial venture lags behind in places where it could be hard-hitting and powerful.

The trailer for director Subhash Kapoor’s Madam Chief Minister piques your interest only to an extent as it crams too much into a few minutes. However, after watching the film, one realizes that the narrative isn't as chaotic as the trailer would have you believe.

Just last week, we saw the brutal endeavours of a ruthless individual to acquire power in the web-series Tandav. Kapoor’s movie is also centred on politics. But the difference is that here, the protagonist is struggling to keep her power and clout intact.

The story starts in the early 1980s in a small village in Uttar Pradesh. Tara, the grown-up version of whom is played by Richa Chadha, is the third daughter of a poor Dalit couple. Though her grandmother wants her dead for not being a boy, Tara survives and grows up to be a brash girl.

After she gets involved in a violent tussle with politician Indu Tripathi (Akshay Oberoi), she is rescued by Masterji (Saurabh Shukla), the founder and head of an emerging political party. Masterji becomes Tara’s mentor, teaching her the ropes of hinterland politics. She then becomes the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and ties the knot with Danish Khan (Manav Kaul), an able subordinate. While this might sound like an ending, this is where Tara's real struggle begins.

Madam Chief Minister gets going from the very first scene. No time is wasted in needless exposition. Chadha’s performance plays a major part in keeping the viewer invested. She has said this was her most difficult role yet and while it is debatable whether it is her best performance, she is certainly convincing.

Chadha’s speeches in the trailer did not seem impressive. But when seen in the context of the film, they come across as powerful and heartwarming. Her catchphrase, 'Main tumhari hoon [I am yours]', becomes her character’s credo.

But though the film is engaging and entertaining, it lags in places where it could have been hard-hitting. Of course, it is heartening to see an absolute nobody become the chief minister of India's most populous state. But the protagonist has to barely jump through any hoops before getting the throne.

Though the protagonist faces various obstacles while coming to power, everything is resolved conveniently. Some incidents appear right out of a masala film, making the film seem like a light-weight political saga about a woman who fought for the marginalized sections of society. In fact, in the second half, the film is more about Tara’s struggle to retain her position while the issue of Dalits is forgotten altogether.

The film has an interesting line-up of artistes playing supporting parts. Their performances salvage it to an extent. Shukla shines as Tara’s pillar of strength and an upright politician. Initially, it appears that Manav Kaul does not t have a substantial role, but the importance of his Danish Khan grows later.

Shubhrajyoti Barat ensures that his character’s power-hungry nature comes across naturally. He gets to utter the most powerful line in the film, which holds true for the UP of today: “People don’t vote for the person who builds metros. They vote for those who make temples.” Akshay Oberoi nails his menacing politician, which is an atypical role for the actor.

The makers of Madam Chief Minister had the opportunity to deliver a powerful political saga. This film merely uses politics as a means for entertainment.

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