Live! From the Heart…
On the brink of India’s 63rd Independence day comes a film that depicts how much we have “progressed” in these 6 decades! A satire on farmer suicides in India, Peepli [Live] is an enjoyable ride. Debutant director Anusha Rizvi packs a powerful punch with her story, cast and direction. When we first hear “farmer suicides”, a preachy or a serious film is generally what we would associate with it but Rizvi’s plot is an interestingly humorous one laced with irony and tongue-in-cheek digs at bureaucracy.
A poor farmer family from the village of Peepli is burdened with a government loan, ironically the fastest and most assured means to get rid of the loan is to kill oneself thanks to a government program that aids the families of indebted farmers who have committed suicide! Nathu (Omkar Das), after much coaxing and convincing from his older brother Budhia (Raghubeer Yadav) decides to commit suicide in order to benefit from the scheme. Due to oncoming elections a few journalists are scavenging a story in his desolate village. One such local reporter gets whiff of Nathu’s suicide plans and what would have gone unnoticed becomes a national issue. Various news channels swarm into Peepli to get a piece of the pie, politicians try to play this into their favour and local henchmen use it to their advantage but the biggest question is… Will he or won’t he?
Peepli [Live] is more witty than funny; its simple dialogue takes digs at all the humbug surrounding news coverage and politics today. At the very start of the film we are taken behind the news room to see how things like a celebrity kissing some forgotten girl in his school days is escalated to become ‘breaking news!’ Later in the film the news reporters are talking about everything from the colour of Nathu’s poop to his local candy man but no one wants to know what Nathu really feels. At no point in its 2-hour length does Peepli [Live] get boring but it is a comparatively slow film … it’s kind of like watching a play.
The music of the film is composed by a combination of artists including Indian Ocean and it’s very Folk-oriented and different yet pleasant to hear.
The actors are really what make it so impactful. Omkar Das is astounding as the quiet and vulnerable Nathu. Raghubeer Yadav has given some amazing performances in the past and here too he performs brilliantly. Shalini Vatsa who plays Nathu’s wife Dhaniya and Farrukh Jaffer who plays his mother are also both fantastic. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vishal Sharma and Mallika Shenoy who play news reporters give superb performances. Naseeruddin Shah in his small role exudes panache. But the stars of Peepli [Live] are its plot and script… crisp, hard hitting, satirical and yet touching!
If you are looking forward to a movie this weekend then Peepli [Live] is definitely worth a visit. Take a look at rural India and the irony that is bureaucracy!