The trouble with these urban – english speaking – new age sympathisers of India’s Garib is that their understanding of rural India is mostly restricted to a few emotional articles that appear on your news daily or a weekend talk show on a national news channel, both of which wholly run on advertiser spends.
Therefore, very often, when they think about rural india & it’s inhabitants, the tendency is to pluck that shabbily dressed construction worker or vest-clad tea-stall helper straight out of a city setting and plant him in a rural placid framework of flowing river & greenest trees. That’s precisely what Anusha Rizvi & her team, under the able of guidance of Aamir Khan, has done in their latest & astonishingly under-researched movie Peepli Live. If only they had known that people in rural India wore clean clothes. Always.
The film’s opening scenes are a little tough on anyone who is exposed to the ways local panchayat officials & bureaucracy. It was surprising to see the local leader giving undue importance to the two farmer brothers on an election day. This undue importance attached to the farmer’s family by the local/national media & politicians gets even further stretched in the following scenes.
In India, it is often noticed that most of the efforts intended at bringing in the much needed realism into a movie, tends to create unrealistic/unnatural story line often adequately supported by force-fitted abuses in it’s dialogues (gandu, chootiya etc). Very often, I have seen a section of the multiplex audience ( mostly a group of men, with one woman thrown in the middle) clapping and guffawing their way through these scenes that show two men hurling abuses at each other. Peepli Live too has it’s set of similar cliches thrown in & the theatre where I had watched this movie had it’s fair share of abuse-lovers as well.
Though intended as a political satire, most of the times the dialogues would fall flat without really creating the impact that the build-up promised. The conversation that the local reporter gets into with the English news anchor after the death of a frail village labourer ( another forced symbolism) is a classic case of shallow dialogue writing. Though intended at exposing the growing consumerist nature of ‘news’ in a profit driven society, the scene is lost on the viewer. I would call it lazy writing and nothing else.
The pressure of releasing your movie at any cost on a long-weekend creeps into everything you do – research, dialogues, screenplay, art direction, costume designs and just about everything. The idea here would be to churn out a movie in record time, within a limited budget which can also score a social point apart from the regular profits. What was not surprising at all was the 5 stars & 4 stars the movie received from the ‘mainstream critics’. You can’t blame them. They are not allowed to rip apart all movies all the time. That’s the nature of this business.
Blog can be accessed at http://sledgingpoint.blogspot.com/2010/08/peepli-live-classic-case-of.html
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