The other day somebody asked me “What was the last movie you watched?” Peepli Live I replied. I hate Village stories can the reply. This is one major misconception about the movie. The characters are set in a village, but the story is contemporary.
Peepli Live is the other side of India; the India Bollywood will not celebrate because there are no Yuppies. The India most of us prefer to ignore because none of us would dare to acknowledge its existence.
Watch this movie just once, and then tell me if you still believe India is an emerging nation, or the entire booming economy theory is a farce.
Think about this; now cross your heart and count the number of times you’ve ignored a homeless person on the road, tattered clothes, and malnourished children with their bones sticking out, construction workers, rag pickers, and hawkers who live in dilapidated conditions.
Peepli Live talks about what drives these people to becoming what they are today.
Nathu and Budhiya are brothers who just lost their last piece of farmland to the bank, because they were unable to repay the loan.
Set in the backdrop of farmer suicides; the director takes a sardonic dig at the sorry state of affairs, without being too preachy or overbearing.
On their way back home, Nathu and Budhiya receive unsolicited advice on the compensation given by the govt to the families of farmers who commit suicide. They pay no heed to this in the beginning; but it slowly grows on them, and Nathu decides to take the plunge.
Nathu declares this in public, and a wannabe village reporter gets a whiff of this, and does what every self respecting media person wants to do to earn a quick buck and his 15seconds of fame. Thus becomes a star overnight.
Farmer suicide cases are causing jitters across the nation, and the news channels make full use of primetime television to air their concerns. With the state elections around the corner, the politicians feel the heat as well, and hence they try and come up with different Yojanas to protect the dying farmers.
The news of Nathu planning to take his life spreads like wildfire all the way to Delhi. This brings in the TRP and sensational news hungry Media Persons, vote bank and caste loving politicians. Vans full of people and equipment flood Peepli. The politicians and the media start their working on business as usual; mudslinging at the opposition and vice versa begins. Media houses take their respective stands to protect their political interests.
In the midst of all this, the real cause of worry is forgotten. The media and the politicians carry out their strategies with the ease of professionals which they are in any case. The entire hungama is properly staged with makeup et al.
Suddenly Nathu disappears and the media makes a quiet exit. The politicians are still a little uneasy. Nathu and Family continue to live Below Poverty Line. But do we really care?
Welcome to Incredible India, where sensationalism is the latest buzz word. Where Farmer suicides go uncared for and we have crores of rupees to splurge on CWG.
I really wonder if this is the *Atulya Mahan Bharat* we are trying to sell to the Western Nations.
PS: The Hindi is a little too hard of the viewer. You may not follow most of it, if you don’t get the basics right. But trust me, it doesn’t even matter. The emotions speak for themselves.
PS1: Hats off to the team for directing something as contemporary as this. Bollywood is waking up I guess.
PS3: You can see lookalikes of Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai.
PS4: The Indian Political System is truly rotten.