Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peepli [Live]

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 13th August, 2010
Time : 104 minutes
Director & Writer : Anusha Rizvi; Music : Indian Ocean, Bhadwai Musicians, Mathais Duplessy
Starring : Omkar Das Manikpuri, Raghuvir Yadav, Shalini Vatsa, Malaika Shenoy, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Farukh Jaffar, Sitaram Panchal, Naseeruddin Shah, Jugal Kishore

Near every city lies a village where life couldn’t be more different to what we city slickers are accustomed to. Farmer suicides, an unchanging harsh life, forgotten people, poverty, lack of infrastructure, corrupt cops, all powerful officials and politicians, an agrarian economy, casteist vote banks. Peepli [Live] is a film that re-introduces us to that world once again, very simply, without too much sermonizing and with a great deal of humour

Natha (Omkar) and Budhia (Raghuvir) are two brothers who’s ancestral agricultural land is about to be auctioned off by the nationalised bank due to their defaulting on a loan. They beg the local politician cum don (Sitaram) to save them but he & his henchman jokingly suggest that they commit suicide wherein the govt would give them compensation of Rs one lac. Budhia then tricks his simpleton brother to agree to the suicide unleashing a storm of protest. First from Natha’s feisty wife, Dhaniya (Shalini) and their bed-ridden foul mouthed mother, Amma (Farukh) and then later, when the story breaks, thanks to a local journalist Rakesh (Nawaz), from everyone and anyone. Local politicians, cops, media, the agricultural minister (Naseeruddin Shah), the bureaucracy, the chief minister, all find themselves drawn into the Natha story. But no one seems to care about the real issues, the plight of farmers in general. Will Natha’s threat of suicide lead to any real change ? Will he actually commit suicide or not ?

What charms you straight away is the simplicity of the storyline and narration. The earthy humour, the rustic feel, the genuineness of the characters, the songs and the lovely soundtrack, the choicest abuses, the great performances. And of course, the sheer absurdity of it all. The gift of a handpump, with no help for installation. The gift of a TV with erratic electricity in the village.

Moments that stay with you include Dhania’s aggressiveness and her running dialogue with her daughter in law, the ping pong battle between the CM and the Agriculture Minister, the images of the sweaty, wiry frame of the character named Hori, the sheer number of schemes that different govts have introduced and the little benefit that they have actually brought about. And the last few frames, which seem to tell a story by themselves.

However in the second half, there is an element of fatigue which sets in. The spectacle of 24*7 news coverage of Natha does begin to lose its charm, there is a lack of lack of newness in the second half, which just delivers more of the same as the first. In fact, while the film is interesting, the tv promo’s made the film fairly predictable

I think the film is a must watch if only to shame us city folk to stop complaining about trivial issues and pay heed to the trauma that afflicts most of our brethren in the villages. That it entertains us as well for most of the film can be considered a fitting bonus...


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chaman raj said...

i had never seen such a satirical movie before Peepli live. A movie which jokingly thrashed our faces on the situation around in village. Hats off to bollywood for such a class act..

Vikas said...

i havent yet seen it, but ma and pa saw it and they obvi loved it.

they were of the opinion that ppl who have seen/been to rural areas would appreciate this movie more.

havent got time yet but im dying to watch it.. i was cracking up during the promos..

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