31 December, 2010

Peepli [Live]

And once again we have an overrated movie being put on a pedestal as some sort of amazing achievement made by the Indian Film Industry. Don’t get me wrong, Peepli [Live] is entertaining, to a point, and well made, but is nothing new nor does it deserve so much credit.

One thing is for sure, Mr. Aamir Khan has perfected the marketing techniques required to make any movie a hit. He managed to break into Hollywood with Lagaan and since our film industry is fascinated with Hollywood (whether they agree or not) it has had an effect here as well.

Let's take the movie. We start with the serious issue of farmer suicides. But in what is supposedly a fresh take, the issue and the film is given a comic outlook rather than a serious one. But haven't we had movies like Welcome to Sajjanpur and Well Done Abba that did the same thing. Okay different rural problems but similar treatment. As for the issue itself, I believe the movie is guilty of the very thing it tries to expose. It uses the issue of farmer suicides, just like the media and politicians in the movie, for its own promotion. This movie is not about issues people of India face. All that this movie does is put on a facade of looking concerned and intelligent by apparently bringing focus to an important issue. If you watch the movie you'll realize most of it is about politicians and the media and their tactics in making the most of the situation at hand, which gets old after about 10 minutes. Yes we are aware that politicians are corrupt. Yes we are aware that news no longer is as accurate as it once was. Yes we are aware we cannot take anything at face value thanks to made up stories. But, do I really need to go watch a movie for this, when I can just switch on the TV and enjoy this new form of entertainment for free. All this is no different from what was portrayed in the recent movie Rann which did pretty much the same thing in a more urban setting. In fact come to think of it, at times Peepli [Live] even felt like one of Priyadarshan's movies (Hulchul, Malamal Weekly) although not so over the top.

So what's the movie about? Real quick, it's about a farmer who decides that the only way to get out of debt is to commit suicide and as a result the family will receive compensation from the government. The rest of the movie is how this situation is spun round and around once the media and politicians find out about his intentions. In actuality it gets pretty repetitive after about 20 odd minutes.

As for the actors, I'm happy that we have a bunch of fresh and/or lesser known faces. Unfortunately Naseeruddin Shah had a small role and thus was not used to his full potential. The same goes for Raghuvir Yadav who according to me is probably the most underrated actor of the Indian Film Industry.

The other thing that personally disturbed me was the fact that comedy in Indian movies is just going from bad to worse, but apparently people seem to love it. Maybe I'm snobbish in this respect, but I found the now infamous "balatkar speech" in 3 Idiots pretty... well idiotic. Similarly, most laughs in Peepli [Live] were heard when a TV presenter talks about our main protagonists feces. Seriously is potty humor the only thing that interests us anymore? That and well Hindi swear words. You can always hear a few people laughing out loud every time a Hindi cuss word is used in the movie. Really! Is that all it takes to make people laugh nowadays?

I suspect Peepli Live will probably end up in a few award functions thanks to its producers (which by no means is wrong. I mean they put in the money, so they should promote the movie). What I do not like is that it will and is getting more coverage than a better film like Udaan.

A lot of people will disagree with me, but all I can give this movie is a 2.5/5

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