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ApunKaChoice » Article » Peepli [Live] - Movie Review
 

Peepli [Live] - Movie Review

High Five For Peepli [Live]
By Naresh Kumar Deoshi
Fri, Aug 13, 2010 12:16:03 GMT
 

Finally...at last...thank goodness for a film that shows India as it is.

Away from the gloriously proclaiming banners and slogans of ‘India Shining’ or ‘Incredible India’ lies the real country where the man who tills the land and feeds a billion-plus mouths survives hand-to-mouth himself. For many of these farmers the future is so bleak, as we all know from newspaper headlines, that the best course is to end it with suicide. And if one gets compensation money of Rs 1 lakh after doing so?...what say!

In Peepli village in the heartland of India, Budhia (Raghuvir Yadav) and Natha (Omkar Das Manikpuri) are two brothers in similar dilemma. They are about to lose their land to government because they are too poor to pay back the loan. When someone jokingly tosses up the idea that one of them should commit suicide to avail a government scheme which pays big compensation money to the family of the voluntarily deceased, Budhia sees a solution. The idea - pardon the unavoidable pun - gets planted in his head. He persuades his younger brother Natha, who has a cribbing wife and three undernourished kids at home, to willingly kick the bucket to save the land of the forefathers.

The gullible Natha agrees reluctantly and the decision sets off a chain of events that involves political bigwigs, bureaucrats, TRP-hungry media, local leaders and the people of Peepli. In this scramble where everyone jostles for their share of the pie, Natha remains a silent witness. He’s an impassive subject of everyone’s attention who, in his heart, wants to run away from the mad circus around him. His dream, with which Peepli [Live] opened, was premonitory.

Kudos to producer Aamir Khan and writer-director Anusha Rizvi for a story that reflects India’s rural-urban divide as much as it exposes the sensation-loving media’s apathy, the system’s inefficacy, astute politicians’ hypocrisy and a poor man’s helplessness. Since Anusha herself has been a journalist, she particularly strips the media and politicians. There’s an English spouting journo (Malaika Shenoy) who sets up scenes before doing her reporting; there’s a sensational Hindi channel’s hack who sees a news report even in the faeces of Natha. There are politicos who see Natha’s declaration of suicide as a ground to milk political mileage ahead of elections. There’s the apathetic ministry forever waiting for court orders to act or mulling over various poverty-prevention schemes to prevent Natha from committing suicide. Hindi cinema has rarely been this ironic, satirical and painfully objective before.

Every actor pitches in a fine performance but Raghuvir Yadav, Malaika Shenoy and Farrukh Jaffer stand out. The dialogues are as real as they get and Anusha’s eye for detail is at work in every frame of Peepli [Live]. Though the film does get a tad repetitive in the second half, it never strays far from course. And running through many crucial points in the narrative is the film’s raw, spirited music with songs like Mehengai Dayan and Chola Maati Ke Ram, which comes in the end and gently pierces your heart with the delicacy of a cold stiletto and leaves you with a feeling you haven’t felt a long time walking out of theatres.

Take my word, Peepli [Live] is the film of the year. Missing it would be your loss.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
‘Peepli [Live]’ recovers production cost easily
 
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