Peepli [Live] (2010)
Anusha Rizvi, Mahmood Farooqui
A haggard, thirty-ish dimwit cum farmer Nathu (Omkar Das) lies in his house staring at a brand new – decidedly useless – hand pump presented to him after having almost inadvertently announced his suicide. Debutant writer-director Anusha Rizvi weaves a modest satire on mass media and electoral politics around this devastating existential premise that attempts to chastise the two entities for their opportunistic and exploitative response to the wave of farmer suicides in the country. What the film does not pay attention to is the fact that it is the same kind of corporations running these media outlets that are almost entirely responsible for the suicide wave across the nation as well. Not that the film is ignorant of the connection. It only knows the dynamics underpinning the phenomenon too well, as it indicates throughout with a hit-and-run approach, and chooses to concentrate on the effects rather than the causes. The result is a safe and rather neatly performed flogging of the dead horses known as media sensationalism and political hypocrisy that, predictably, detaches its target from the larger political fabric. Backed by some clever compositions and a noteworthy production design that provides an unsettling contrast between the part-godforsaken, part-heavenly hinterland and the sanitized, air-conditioned coldness of the studio interiors, the film is generally unmarred by its advertisement and photography-driven aesthetics and the sporadically sloppy direction. The film attains formidable density in the first half hour, where it starts exploring the imperceptibility of the moral gravity of one’s professional choices in the corporate ladder, and gets an easy and firm grasp of the bubbling up and trickling down processes of information and knowledge. It’s only when the film aims for the occasional dollop of profundity that it strains.
(Image courtesy: Emirates 24×7)