Peepli Live – A Review

Natha marega ya nahi marega? (Will Natha die or not?). The answer to this was one thing on everyone’s mind before the release of the much awaited movie “Peepli Live” which was released on 13th of August, 2010. Produced by Amir Khan and Kiran Rao, Directed by Anusha Rizvi and Mahmood Farooqui, the cast of the film includes actors such as  Raghubir Yadav, Omkar Das Manipuri, Malaika Shenoy, Shalini Vatsa, Nawazuddin Siddique, Farukh Jaffer, Vishal O Sharma and Naseeruddin Shah.

The entire plot is based in a small rural India village called Peepli where the basic occupation of the people is farming. But as the condition of agricultural India is not very good, so is the case with this particular place. The story revolves around Natha and his family. Natha is caught up in a situation where his agricultural land is at stake because of an unpaid government loan. At the same time, the government announces a scheme, looking at the increasing cases of farmers committing suicides, The scheme entitles the family of the indebted deceased a compensation. Looking at the conditions at home, his elder brother Budhia, played by Raghubir Yadav, pushes him to commit suicide. Though reluctant at first, Natha agrees and the news of him committing suicide spreads like fire. On the other hand, the movie tries to show the cut throat competition in the news channel industry and the way each one of them want to capture the event first. In this entire chaos no one is really bothered as to what Natha wants.

The movie brilliantly depicts how everyone is trying to get the best out of the situation while no one really knows that almost all the farmers in the village are affected by the same damaged agricultural situation. All they want to know is “Will Natha die or not?” The lead role of Natha is being played by Omkar Das Manikpuri, a folk theatre artist form Chattisgarh who later joined Naya Theatre as an actor is worth watching. The entire portrayal of the farmer’s dilemma, in a subtle yet unique way, has been perfectly enacted by him.

Going with the deglamed look of the movie, the main promotional song is sung by a bunch of folk villagers known as the Gaya Prasad Mandali from Madhya Pradesh. Rest of the music is given by a popular band called the Indian Ocean.

Farmers committing suicides is one grave situation in India staring everyone on the face yet very little has been done by the government. For the politicians, staying in power and playing their cards well has become much more important than millions of farmers losing their lives. The most striking part of the movie is the part showing a malnutrition farmer continuously digging the ground, going unnoticed by others and then one day he is found dead inside the same hole he had been digging for so long. This particular scene will force you to think of the huge economic gap that exists in India, which is ever widening. The rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer to the extent that even their own life has become petty, that can be claimed for, in exchange for a few pieces of paper.

Amir Khan, often called a perfectionist, has done it yet again. Not only is it a big time entertainer packed with black humour but has also succeeded in conveying its message effectively. Now, whether Natha actually dies or not is what the movie should be watched for, apart from the watertight performances.

Manpreet Sohanpal