The issue of farmer’s suicide must have been milked dry on the Street Play / Stage Play circuit. So here we have a rather predictable plot of a farmer (Natha) declaring that he would kill himself to get money from the government that could save his land. The media gets a sniff of the story and decide to go all guns blazing in reporting it. Innumerable reporters from innumerable channels invade Peepli and set shop around Natha’s house. And then starts the usual Media war, which again highlights the apathy of the media towards their subjects. Ofcourse there is a political angle aswell, and everyone tries to benefit from this situation. Everyone, but the farmer, does benefit from this situation!
Though nothing is exceptionally refreshing about the story, the treatment surely is. Anusha Rizvi gives a first-rate account of herself as a writer-director. She has written some really marvelous scenes and characters. Also the casting is spot on, with almost everyone suiting the role perfectly. The main characters Raghuvir Yadav (Natha’s elder brother), Omkar Das (Natha) are excellent, but special mention goes to Shalini Vatsa (Natha’s wife) who breathes life into the vitriolic wife effortlessly. Also, Farrukh Jaffar ( Amma) delivers her comic dialogues with such deadly precision that she has the audience in splits throughout. What enhances the mood is the setting and Anusha captures the village atmosphere with precision. Even though it’s a small film (absence of big stars ), a lot of money has been put into the movie to give it the authenticity. So the movie scores in terms of production value also. Plus, I loved the background score and songs (especially the last song – Chola Maati ke ).
But the true intention of the movie is to highlight the problems of the farmers and creating an impact in the hearts and the minds of the society. And unfortunately the movie fails in leaving you with that JOLT. Dheema sa jhatka, bahut dheere se lagta hai. The tone of the film is responsible for the same. Too much time is wasted in creating chaos, confusion, comedy and too little footage is used to highlight real issues. Infact the second half of the film drags on longer than it should, and this mellows the impact significantly. You do not stop and think “Shit yaar, that’s sad”, you simply move on. Even though thats intentional and everything is underplayed, like the protagonist Natha who remains silent throughout, the soft impact is the primary failure of the film. The other problem is the “Been there , seen that” feeling. Both the media and the political angle seem too familiar. Shyam Benegal’s “Well Done Abba” has a better take on how the poor suffer due to dirty politics. I think Marathi films like “Valu”, “Tingya” which had a similar setting, were much better in terms of the impact they created.
Overall, Peepli Live is a decent film, but it’s not a path-breaking film. It’s simply a film that has a very good first half, a draggy second half, but still warrants one time viewing. So, do not set your hopes too high, and go have a PEEP!
Rating : 6.5 / 10