Why Peepli [Live] was not just another Bollywood Movie

No, this is not a review of Peepli [Live]. I would not even try to rate the movie to encourage or discourage movie enthusiasts.
People who were looking forward to watch it have already done so, and people who are not interested in such genres of movies have forgotten its existence all together. What this post aims at is somewhat different.
peepli-live
Peepli Live is not a normal masala movie of Bollywood. It ain’t an art film either. There are some movies which can not be stereotyped into any categorization. It’s one of those.

Dark satire. May be this term reaches the closest. The story raises itself from a very grave issue. The issue of farmers committing suicides in the poverty-ridden parts of India. And people in such parts are understood to have zero face value. That’s why an Omkar Das Manikpuri replaces an Aamir Khan as the main protagonist.
But Aamir is seen in every frame. Anusha Rizvi’s directorial debut is impressive none the less, but the flawless treatment of the frames hint heavy presence of Aamir’s perfectionist influences. All for the good.
Satire and comedy are two vastly different things. Comedy makes us laugh, while satire makes us silent when we ought to have laughed otherwise. There are many instances in the movie which seem comical, but don’t bring smile on our faces. We feel pinched somewhere. That’s satire for you.
The glib politician presents Natha a color TV, and the government official awards him a stand alone ‘Lal Bahadur’ ( A handpump). No one bothers whether he has electricity in his house or not, or how is he gonna get water out of that handpump without getting it installed.
And media. We see all colors of news parrots flying around Natha. It’s not about the disgust that a farmer is going to commit suicide due to poverty; its about getting maximum TRP. Cameramen follow Natha everywhere. Even when he is going to attend his nature’s calls. News media’s hunger for being heard and seen is painted red when one reporter analyses the color of Natha’s shit while the cameraman shamelessly zooms into it. Dehumanizing people: shameless media?
Village level politics. The MLAs and not so MLAs mock Natha and Budhiya’s poverty and advise him to commit suicide. Their confidence on the government and compassion to their own village men doesn’t need any more evidence. The henchman’s mobile rings, “Pappu can’t dance Sala.”
Can the chief minister of ‘Mukhya Pradesh’ rule Sala? Why does the grass root politics have to be this cold?
08132010_PeepliLive1
Natha does not die. Budhiya does not get any money. The media gets what it wanted, ie the TRP. The local politicians overcome the momentary ripples well. The agriculture minister has nothing to fear about anyways.
Meanwhile, two things quietly happen. One, the local journalist dies unsung who had just realized what real journalism was all about; and two, Natha loses his identity among the thousands of laborers and construction workers of India, working day and night cluelessly, making India alien all the more to themselves.
Peepli [Live]. I thought that the art of satire in Bollywood had succumbed to the romantic dialogues of a Shahrukh Khan and the busty body of a Rakhi Sawant.
I was wrong. We need these kind of realistic movies all the more now.
Alok K.

4 Comments:

Mohi said...

This movie shows mirror to the media. I am optimistic, if there are movies like this and people appreciate it that means, ours is an aware crowd. And of course, great pov.

Alok K. said...

Ours is an aware crowd, indeed. The problem is that the crowd of the unawares is what they target and feed upon; and the unawares outnumber the awares by thousands.

Shivi said...

Interesting! gonna see the movie after this review ;)

Alok K. said...

Hehe, you haven't till now? :O