August 18, 2010
Yesterday, one had the pleasure of enjoying ‘Peepli Live’, in the Innovative iplex, Marathalli, Bangalore. I wanted to comment a bit about the striking features of this movie. It is in the order of the impact they had on me.
A poor farmer named ‘Hari Mehto’, who is unable to cultivate crops, because of the infertility of the land he possesses; is compelled to dig out soil and sell the same and thus he earns his meager living. He is very dark in complexion, because, he has to dig soil all the day in grueling sunshine. He is very skinny, very fragile, almost unable to utter even a few words because of his weakness. He continues to dig the soil out from his land. One day, owing to the extreme of weakness and incessant labor, he dies in that very pit where he used to dig.
A news reporter, who is conscientious, but still in search of ‘stories’ because of his profession, has been witnessing this farmer curiously for many days. Even after the death of the farmer, this reporter is very grave and wants to tell this story to the world but owing to his obligations for the other ‘hot story’, he is coerced to leave it out. No one but a very few of neighbors know about the death of the poor farmer who used to dig the soil out of earth whole day for his living.
The ‘hot story’ is built around the ‘Nattha’, another farmer, who is forced(indeed by circumstances) to announce that he would commit suicide(but he never does), because of the abject poverty and indebtedness he is suffering from. As usual, much ado for nothing or much ado for ‘something’ which is other than what ‘actually is’ the state of affairs. Politicians, police, mafia, media—all have their share in making it a big ‘scenario’ for their own gain.
2. SOUND TRACK:
The plot is supported by a very sensitive and profound sound track. Songs are good, timely and touching. One of the songs—“Chola Maati Ke Raam”, which is supporting the climax, is allegedly plagiarized from a 1978 song[or has been taken as it originally was from it ], which was composed by Gangaram Siwar, a folk singer of Chhattisgarh, who used to sing for AIR(All India Radio). The family members of Siwar are in dire need of money and are suffering from abject poverty [This is another irony, not in the movie, but on the movie].
Right from the beginning, the film is successful in carrying out two difficult tasks simultaneously, i.e. to address the obscenity, hype, hypocrisy and lack of sensitivity of the media, police, politicians and mafia; as well as to struck the chord of unadulterated humor. You may burst out in uncontrollable laughter, causing you pain in the belly, provided you have had some taste of the village life.
Throughout the movie audience keeps on laughing, but the audience leaving out of the hall is left with some surprise, sensitivity and a deep sense of bewilderment. This is a really appreciable quality of the climax of this movie.
The whole movie has been rendered as an observation of ‘what is’. Without having drawn any conclusion, positive or negative whatsoever, it leaves the audience dumbfounded. It does not show any ‘radical’ changes in the government. It does not show any positive or negative reforms by and large. It is ‘to the T’ representation of the true disposition of society in India. The movie does not force any particular ‘view’ on you, but rather, excels in portraying, a bit comically and stoically, whatever is ‘really there’.