Ratings: * * * *
Farmers’ suicide is a grave and disturbing issue that India is facing since past few years. Debutant director Anusha Rizvi’s Peepli [Live] takes the daredevil risk of presenting the subject in a dark-humorous or satirical manner without hurting the sensibility of the issue. But more importantly, Peepli [Live] highlights the fact that all it requires to make an appealing film is a simple yet powerful script instead of the big stars and the so-called commercial factors.
In the village of Peepli in the state of Mukhya Pradesh, brothers (farmers) Budhia (Raghuvir Yadav) and Natha (Omkar Das Manikpuri) are in danger of losing their land because of debt. When they plead an insensitive local politician for help, he suggests one of them should commit suicide in order to receive Rs 1 lakh as compensation from the government.
After some debate with Budhia, Natha suggests he would commit suicide. Unfortunately for Natha, he is overheard by a journalist. This was enough for the whole national media to throng into Peepli to cover Natha’s suicide, which becomes a burning national issue. The political parties too jump in to garner personal gains out of Natha’s suicide. But will Natha really end his life?
This is one of those very few films which make you think about the director while the proceedings are going on, on the celluloid. Anusha Rizvi has achieved mastery for handling such a subject and a large bunch of different and unusual characters in her very first movie. Producer Aamir Khan’s view before the release of the film that Rizvi can give most of the well-known directors a run for their money wasn’t an overstatement at all.
That’s not all for Rizvi. As the writer, she has succeeded in writing a moving tale which is also funny and has created some out-of-the-box artistic scenes while keeping the entertainment quotient in mind. There are plenty of rib-tickling moments out of which some are also thought-provoking. And a particular scene where the viewer is taken on a journey from a village to the city sums up the quality of this piece of cinema.
The film is also blessed with an apt background score and artistic cinematography. Songs Desh Mera and Mehangayi Daayan suit the mood of the film as well as provide the fun element.
It is very vital for such a film to be high on performance value and thankfully that is absolutely the case with Peepli [Live]. Debutant Omkar Das Manikpuri (a folk theatre artist) plays the role of the protagonist with utmost ease as he speaks more through eyes and expressions instead of words and does it with remarkable maturity. Truly a wonderful find! Raghuvir Yadav once again proves why he is one of the most accomplished actors the country has ever seen.
The nagging saas-bahu duo played by Farrukh Jaffer and Shalini Vatsa is enjoyable. However, the surprise element comes from top-notch performances of Malaika Shenoy (senior journalist) and Nawazuddin Siddiqui (journalist). These two deserve many more opportunities. The rest of the cast (lots of them) play their part perfectly.
It is films like Peepli [Live] that can take Bollywood or Hindi films to the international level and improve the quality of cinema, which has started to degrade in recent times. Box-office wise, the film will enjoy great returns largely because of the name Aamir Khan attached with it and the strong word-of-mouth it is receiving.