Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peepli Live - REVIEW Don't you dare miss it!

Let me be honest. The only reason I went to see Peepli Live today morning was because Aamir Khan produced it. Strange reason to watch a movie, yes. But not for me, because I believe the quirky man has a nose for good things -- he can smell out a good story.

And he's made an effort to market it well, the marketing maverick he's proving to be. (Imagine, my mum who's so not into films recalled the film's title from trailers she'd seen on TV; she doesn't even watch much TV!)

Peepli Live is a story that has to be told, that must be told, so that people don't forget the lives of other fellow people. How you do the telling, makes a big difference. And that is where Anusha Rizvi (a former journalist) and the film's director gets my appreciation. For a first film, it's a very bold and risky one. Because I'm not too sure if satire goes down well with audience. And that's too when it's so dark and deep like in Peepli Live.

If you were told it was a film on farmer's suicides and how the country's farmers are forced out of an agrarian way of life, would you bother watching the film? Which is what is the crux of the movie. But it has been ensconced very finely in a razhai of the mockery called the media/news and the world of netagiri/babudom.

I'm from the media, and watching the film was a sadistically joyous affair, as I spotted all resemblances to news anchors/journalists/channels. But what worried me about the film was, again, the approach. People in the audience (at the theatre) were so busy laughing at the numerous digs taken at the media, I hope in all the humour, they didn't lose out on the layer that dealt with the gory reality of farmers, their living conditions, their concerns, which are all so neatly interwoven into the narrative. It's not the come-look-here-and-weep-at-my-poverty kind of portrayal of rural poverty. Peepli Live is not thumping its chest saying 'I'm dealing with a serious issue here'. And therefore it becomes very entertaining.

But overall, the approach works, and Peepli Live clicks as a black comedy -- it makes you laugh, and it makes you uncomfortable and uneasy -- at the same time. That's good. You don't leave the cinema hall weepy. But at the same time, Anusha Rizvi and her entire cast have jabbed you several times in the heart, rather forcefully. With guilt.

Guilt that you know farmers are dying every day and are unable to really do anything about it yourself. And that we are treating it like an everyday affair. That in a news channel's order of headlines, Shilpa Shetty figures way on top compared to "another farmer suicide today".

Omkar Das and Raghuvir Yadav as the central characters -- the farmer brothers -- anchor the film brilliantly. Omkar Das is so real, you can't believe he's an actor! And Raghuvir Yadav always seems to match his performances with better ones whenever he's given the scope and character. The pain and anguish on his face, the helplessness had my stomach in knots.

The entire cast of the film is, to say repetitively, brilliant. Almost all are fairly newcomers. The small town newspaper reporter Rakesh (actor Nawazuddin) plays conscience-keeper of the film with great import. And together with Omkar Das, I feel, they form the soul-pair of Peepli Live.

The English and Hindi news channel reporters, can be seen as case studies -- they are real, they may be stereotypical, but bloody hell, they are the window to the REAL and NASTY world of the media. They are so believable.

The songs are beautifully stylised and shot with gusto, but for once, they never interfere with your enjoyment of the film.

You must go watch the film to see how all these people come together to make you laugh uproariously and yet, also leave you feeling ashamed that this is how the lives of many of our fellow countrymen unfolds. While we sit and watch them go by, with maybe a Coke and popcorn in our hands.


Sitha Hari said...

nice review !

Forever mother said...

Hi Sitha
Thanks :-) Quickly dropped by your site. That's a very charming daughter you have showing off the baked goodies.

REKHA said...

neat review...makes me want to go & watch d movie...

Forever mother said...

Hi Rekha, Thanks
Glad you liked it. Do watch it. There's so much more I wanted to write, but one must see it for oneself. Moreover, no one reads a long review ;-)