Cast: Omkar Das Manikpuri, Raghuveer Yadav, Malaika Shenoy, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shalini Vatsa, Vishal Sharma, Nasserudin Shah
Director: Anusha Rizvi
Peepli Live is an aberration, albeit, much needed among the current run of the mill bollywood flicks. It has been produced by Aamir Khan and so expectations are high before entering the theater. A brilliant work by debutant director Anusha Rizvi, Peepli Live delivers in terms of performance, story, direction, entertainment while making a deep satirical comment on the current Indian political scenario and agricultural distress.
Peepli is a small village in hinterland of India where a landless farmer family is indebted under bank loan. Natha(Omkar Das Manikpuri) and Budhia(Raghuveer Yadav) the brother duo of the family approach a local village big shot to help them who refuses and insults them. Meanwhile, Natha and Budhia come to know about the government scheme on farmer suicides that the family of the dead farmer gets a lakh as compensation. Budhia very intelligently convinces Natha to commit suicide so that they can end their miseries. A reporter, Rakesh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) overhears them and finds an interesting story for his newspaper. He and Nandita Malik (Malaika Shenoy), a celebrated journalist goes to Peepli to capture the story. Almost in no time the entire nation’s media is after Natha and his family to capitalize on his suicide. Local political parties are after Natha offering him gifts and harnessing his plight for the forthcoming elections. Some are trying to save him while others threatening him to commit suicide. Its repercussions are everywhere, in the media who follow Natha’s every move, the Agricultural ministry whichlaunches a void BPL card on Natha’s name to get away with the problem and Natha’s family who are caught in between the sham with no apparent solution to their issues except Natha’s suicide. The rest of the story revolves around whether Natha will commit suicide or not?
It’s a short and simple movie without any glamour and makes strong comment on the grave problem of farmer suicide in India. The misery of the agricultural class who constitute the largest section of the society has been laid bare naked in a humorous way. The casting of the movie is sans big stars. All the actors have been picked from theatre. They have given strong and flawless performances. Omkar das Manikpuri’s expressions even without dialogues are so authentic and superb. The scene where he grabs his goat is simply touching. Raghuveer Yadav and Nawazuddin Siddiqui deliver at par. The shrewd and nasty comments by Natha’s bed ridden mother (played by Farrukh Jaffer) on Natha’s wife are humorous. Shalini Vatsa as Natha’s irascible wife and Vishal Sharma as the Hindi T.V. reporter too have given genuine performances. The upsetting story of a poor farmer who dies digging a hole for a living is so intense that it leaves you thinking. The climax of the movie shows the ever widening urban rural divide of the country. The camerawork by Shankar Rahman is worthy of admiration. The music by Indian Ocean and Nageen Tanveer is simply awesome. The lyrics and melodies suit the plot of the movie. Although mid way, for a few minutes there are a few unnecessary stretches but overall you come back satisfied and in deep thought.
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