Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Peepli [Live] works?

Aamir Khan Productions’ presents Peepli [Live]. What are you thinking? Don’t your expectations increase inherently once you hear the name behind it? Well, lets face it. Aamir Khan Productions has taken a path where it has set standards for others to follow and they really cannot deliver anywhere below their mark. If you read and follow cinema, this endearing mini-budget has come back from Sundance Film Festival. To come to the point, director Anusha Rizvi’s social satire works for me, and works big time.

Peepli picks up a topic which projects from the biggest cause of death in India till date. Its not any ailment, its farmer suicide. Anusha hits fresh ground with this subject and builds a lovable piece of art on it. Social satire never got better for Indian film industry. Peepli is not your regular comic caper as it remains true to the village world of Peepli in every second of its running time. This was a big risk to take, but this also became their biggest asset. Choosing a truly village setting, staying honest to the language, the culture, the poverty, the misery, the paradox of India, the illiteracy and the innocence of the setting is very difficult and a million movies falter here. They show something or the other which the user cannot believe would end up happening in a village. Peepli carefully avoids it. Kudos to Anusha for that!

What works for Peepli? There are many countable instances. The old farmer who dies digging mud in his fields, the way he has been portrayed in merely three scenes, his physicality, his toil and his desperation, is the basic crux of the movie. The death of Rakesh, the Jan Morcha reporter, which is shown inexplicitly through his bracelet is a brilliantly handled sequence. The finale is a masterpiece due to its subtility and non-dramatic approach. The multiple close-ups of the villagers, Natha’s vulnerability, Amma’s redundancy, Dhania’s anger – all work together to get completely engrossed in the world of Peepli. Constant intrigue regarding Natha’s fate keeps you on the edge of your seat, except when you jump while laughing at the sheer brainlessness of the media reporters.

What doesn’t work for Peepli? A few instances. I feel the instances involving the media, although very funny, are a little overdone. I do not blame Anusha for this as the media today, really has no limits and possibly anything can qualify as news. Politics getting involved in Natha’s story, although required, goes a little too far and politicians look more corrupt explicitly than they do in real life. Not much to complain about.

Engrossing. Enlightening. Entertaining. The whole magic of satire lies in the fact that it doesn’t get preachy and full point to Peepli for that. Go for it today if you haven’t already!

My View - 4/5

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