Peepli Live poster

Peepli Live

wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)

quick review:

Peepli Live is pitch black humor - beginning, middle, and end. This Aamir Khan production obviously laughs at everything in the system. Peepli Live slyly laughs at you and me, the audience who finds such a dark world funny. 'Farmer suicides' is not the only issue that Anshu Rizvi, the writer is referring to. Peepli Live points a finger at things far beyond and the irreparable(?) fault deep down in the crux.

Read more
Running time: 100 minutes
More Movie Info

A 600-seater multiplex hall is filled to capacity for Peepli [Live] a film that has no stars, is about a remote village, and the promo material has made it obvious that one cannot expect any glamor out of it. We know now that the 'we serve masala because that is what the audience demands' days are numbered. fingers crossed Yes, the crowd seemed to be enjoying the film. I understand that 'enjoying' is a rude word to use when you are talking about a film based on others' misfortunes. But it seems only valid, when you see people laughing at dark joke cracked along with the huge roar of laughter every time a cuss word is used.

Once the novelty of seeing everyday talk on screen wares off - the whole-range of Hindi foul language, the young easily-amused boys giggly girls do get involved in the rotten situation that our state is in - at least more involved than one could imagine most of them in reality. Pathos of the central character comes through without him having to speak more than 5-10 lines in all of 100 minutes.

Such subtlety runs through Peepli [Live]and every once in a while reminding you of the moot point it's trying to make. The obvious commentary on the unintelligent coverage of issues by the media, to the absolute ridiculousness of Government yojanas (subsidy/benefit/upliftment programs) is continuously punctuated with references at the level underneath.

It is up to us then, to dig deeper. Going just a skin-deeper there's a ton to see: Contrast between two strong women - one urban, one rural - one empowered and 'master' of her life if not others, the other at the mercy of the feeble men in her life; suicide must not come easy to farmers close to death either; left to the mercy of news-creators a dying farmer's feces and Saif Ali Khan's smooch are competing for headlines - is everything that hunky-dory?; all is not lost for there is a conscientious young bureaucrat/politician/journalist out there. His soul has not on sale, at least not yet; there is more hope because the simpleton will rise and make his own decisions despite the entire world wanting to take advantage of his situation; and on and on and on.

So many things are being said at once - using the lyrics, the music, the backdrop, the props - that in the first five minutes you decide to stop being overwhelmed as you promise yourself another watch to grasp more. This first time I decided to absorb the surface. The performances are so close to reality that it almost feels like a documentary. The focus is on developing and presenting the situation rather than building characters and their arcs. The photography adds to the 'real' milieu by having a home-video feel - with the intentional shakes and jerks.

There are some exaggerations, no doubt. And they make the film a little too slapsticky for my taste and also for the tone of the film. Then again, they are only an extension of what we've seen in real life or read in the papers. The newsy nature and the manner in which the situation rolls out also makes the film predictable.

So, what next? A teeny-weeny bit more than 'nothing'? If even one bureaucrat/politician just scratches his head after watching the film, [Peepli Live] should consider itself successful.

Audience? Hopefully, it won't be mere fashionable to like the film. Hopefully, a few of us will go beyond our 'jobs'. Even if it's not to take on the task of improving a nation, at the very least we can begin and continue to be an audience that demands films out of the ordinary - be they good, bad, or ugly - Peepli [Live]is all three, not in quality but because of its gritty content.

- meeta, a part of the audience

50 reviewers(?) - 45 yays 5 so-so 0 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Stefan S, A Nutshell Review : cannot escape from the fact that her journalistic background may have paved the way at the harsh yet comical criticism of the media in general... full review

Thumbs up, by Sanskriti Media, AOL INDIA : ...The censor board seems to have been lenient with the movie considering they've let go of the swear words and rustic language of the central provinces which has been used liberally in the film... full review

Thumbs up, by Roshni Mulchandani, Bolly Spice : ...Indian Ocean deserve a special mention for their fusion and of course, Menghai Daiyan is 'the' song of the film... full review

Thumbs up, by Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama : point does the film gets preachy or starts offering solutions to the grave issue... full review

Thumbs up, by Daliya Ghose, Bollywood Mantra : ...The music is raw, folk based and sounds good.... full review

Thumbs up, by Jitaditya, Cinemaa Online : ...nice, slice of life touches... full review

Thumbs up, by Unnati Narang, Daily Latest News : ...Like all good works of art, Peepli live offers Indian cinema some food for thought... full review

Thumbs up, by Kriti Pandey, Daily Latest News : ...he doesn’t miss out on his moral responsibilities towards the nation and its people. Read more: ... full review

Thumbs up, by Faiz Ullah, DearCinema :’s neither didactic nor boring. It’s, in fact, entertaining and sensitive in equal measures... full review

Thumbs up, by dunkdaft, Dunkdaft : ...Malaika Shenoy is really good as reporter Nandita - who is doing her job against her will, just because of need to increase TRP of her channel... full review

Thumbs up, by Deepa Gahlot, Film Impressions : ...Rizvi’s dialogue is sharp, Shankar Raman’s visuals adequately shorn of glamour, the characters look and speak like the people they play... full review

Thumbs up, filmi cafe : ...Her biggest ace is her black humour laced script that successfully packs in all the rot in our system ... full review

Thumbs up, by Samrat Sharma, : ...For a film about death, Peepli is fascinated with life, and everyone chooses to fill it with their own focus, forgetting to actually step out of the cocoon and see it for what it is... full review

Thumbs up, by Pankaj Sabnani, : ...The climax is a high-point of the film which elucidates the rural-urban divide. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhashis Biswas, : ...Peepli Live is about how pathetic lives can look of one-self if you look at the bigger picture. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, Hindustan Times : ...India’s mass media, whether in the ridiculousness of Hindi television, or even excitable super-stars of English news, leave little scope for parody. The risk involves spoofing a spoof itself... full review

Thumbs up, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...director displays solid confidence while handling the media swoop-down on Natha... full review

Thumbs up, by Kaveree Bamzai, india today : ...But because Rizvi is such an acute observer. From the constantly working women to the men who are either smoking chillum or gossiping under a tree or eating eggs, she brings every stereotype of the village come alive.... full review

Thumbs up, by Mihir Fadnavis, : ...Natha's predicament is itself worth the price of admission - around him orbit a dysfunctional bunch of relatives and advisors remarkable for being just as stupid, lazy and/or scheming as their counterparts in the government and in TV stations... full review

Thumbs up, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ...Rizvi’s storytelling is very straightforward in the first half but the narrative picks up pace and graph in the second half... full review

Thumbs up, by Kshitij Mehta , J.A.M : ...Crisp and to the point, it works. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Komal Nahta, koimoi : ...Nothing’s really bad but the ladies and family audience might not like the liberal use of four-letter words by the characters... full review

Thumbs up, by Sanjukta Sharma, Live Mint : ...There are no lead characters or apparent heroes in the film. It’s about a wretched, impoverished farmer, Natha, but the media is a character in itself.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ajeet Bharti, merinews : ...Music of the cinema is just awesome with some rustic, satirical and deep hitting words... full review

Thumbs up, by Snehal Khandkar, MH-31 Fun Unlimited : ...The music by Indian Ocean has the rustic flavour, which behoves the simplicity of the folks in the movie... full review

Thumbs up, by Sarita Tanwar, MiD DAY : keep waiting for the twist that never comes... full review

Thumbs up, Mixed Bag : ... I have no doubts about the fact that the movie has been brilliantly made; however, the ending seemed to be like one of those Priyadarshan's movies - utter confusion - jumping to an immature end.... full review

Thumbs up, Movie Talkies : ...While Shanker Raman's cinematography is as realistic and true to narrative as possible, it also imparts a certain rural texture that draws you into the world of Natha ... full review

Thumbs up, by Naresh Kumar Deoshi, : ...Every actor pitches in a fine performance but Raghuvir Yadav, Malaika Shenoy and Farrukh Jaffer stand out.... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ... This coldness is best captured in the nonchalant refrain of the natty agriculture secretary: "we must wait for the court's order."... full review

Thumbs up, by Arpana, IANS, Now : ...It seems the film is her attempt to enlighten viewers about the social dilemma that our country is facing and her experience as a journalist is quite visible in her storytelling.... full review

Thumbs up, by Padmaja Thakore, Passion for Cinema : ...It is refreshing to see a real village for once in Bollywood cinema – not the ‘specializing in mustard fields’ variety, not the suspiciously clean cricket-playing variety, not the ‘designer backless-choli’ variety, but one that looks very real in its dung-cakes covered splendor.... full review

Thumbs up, by Magik, Passion for Cinema : ...It doesn’t ‘Rann‘ it down outright, but it shows, albeit in a humorous way at lengths the media guys have to go to, to keep the chulha burning & the best part is that it also tells us that not everyone in the media is a pimp... full review

Thumbs up, by Khalid Mohamed, Passion for Cinema : ...It’s because of such pitfalls that Rizvi’s gaon-garibinama doesn’t rise to the level of a thoroughly great piece of cinema. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Abhijit Mhamunkar, real bollywoood : ...Anusha scores high in her casting as her actors lend tremendous authenticity to the plot.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Farrukh Zaffer as Natha's venom-spewing mom is a firebrand. I'd love to see more of her.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sudarshana Dwivedi, Rediff : ...We, as a nation, lack the ability to laugh at ourselves. Peepli [Live] not only does so but does it with a healthy irreverence. Hope it gets appreciated.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters : ...It will be your loss if you do miss out on these small details because this film thrives on subtlety — something we aren’t too used to as viewers.... full review

Thumbs up, by K N Gupta, : ...The movie is worth watching as it's based on a widely discussed and a topical subject. ... full review

Thumbs up, by K K Rai, STARDUST : ... Shalini Vatsa, who plays the part of Natha’s wife Dhania, comes out with a natural performance. Her constant squabbles with mother –in-law Farrukh Jaffer enliven the otherwise staid environment of the house.... full review

Thumbs up, by Pratim D. Gupta, The Telegraph : ...With her Naya Theatre background, the Habib Tanvir-mentored Anusha Rizvi brings a very different zing to the screen with her storytelling.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nishant Mehta, The Tossed Salad : ...The execution of the transitions from cine cameras to the news cameras is done beautifully... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...we get to savour this delightful scene where the caretakers of the Indian state try to prevent Natha's suicide by gifting him a `Lal Bahadur' (read hand pump)... full review

Thumbs up, by Fakir Hassen, TONIGHT : ...a simple yet well-crafted tale that has no boring moment in it... full review

Thumbs up, by filmbear, Upper Stall : ...Perhaps it is the fact that below its insouciant exterior are deep, dark recesses that are home to painful truths we are privy to... full review

So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks : the movie ended, I just realized that Aamir and his director Anusha, had basically used this relevant theme in a comic style only for their own gains and they were actually least concerned over the seriousness of the issue in the villages.... full review

So-So, by Vivek Syania, Express-oholic : ...Though tightly edited, this script failed to engage in most of its second half. ... full review

So-So, by Rachit Gupta, Filmfare : ...If you’ve seen the film’s trailers, you’ve already seen all the jokes and funny lines. There is nothing more in the final film, at least in terms of comedy... full review

So-So, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...What unfolds is a tale that’s immersing, entertaining, topical, yes; but not all that insightful. ... full review

So-So, by Janhvi Patel, StarBoxOffice : ...After a while, the media and political circus becomes repetitive and the second half meanders periodically... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

3 readers - 3 yays 0 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by antony : Story of indian soul

Yay! Thumbs Up, by GAMAN BUCHI : 12

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Samir

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

Natha and Budhiya's land is being auctioned because they cannot pay their loan installments. Cornered from everywhere, one convinces the other that the last resort is to commit suicide so that the family receives a Government sanction. As it so happens, an alert journalist notices this, only to alert the inert media industry to make BREAKING NEWS out of it.

What Worked

  • The manner in which some of the close-ups were revealed - the stop sign.
  • The politician who is being referred to as Pappu who can't dance his dance, the right way or wrong.
  • Natha and Budhiya's mom. Both character and actor - class act!
  • I'm sure there is more, but one will have to watch it again to make better notes ;)

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • The toilet humor

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Abusive language throughout, as a regular part of dialogue
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: The state of affairs in the interiors of our country.
  • General Look and Feel: Grim and rugged.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Comments (16)

Click here for new comment

@lost in confusion he he he thanks!

@cinefreak I liked it while it lasted. But I too have this question, "what will people in the interiors make of it?" will they be able to laugh at their situation, for a brief moment too?

As far us being the villains, i agree, we are. But I still wouldn't blame the film for it. Almost every film/story is made at the expense of someone or something. Someone - the stereotype he fits in, something - the stuff we associate with them - is being exposed for our viewing pleasure.

By the way, I'm really curious. Can you name a few Hindi films from the last 3-4 years that you've liked? It is a serious question, please don't take it, like it could be taken, as sarcasm.

I would agree with what lost in confusion and cinefreak have to say here, though I wouldn't be as extreme as cinefreak was in his views. The film was thoroughly entertaining and did point fingers at quite a few entities. And coming from a debutant director and a largely unknown cast, its quite a feat. Though having said that, it still won't be as close to my heart as a Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron would always remain. I have my theories on why Peepli Live isn't a JBDY and will pen them down as soon as I get done with my weekend chore of reviews. Yet to watch Help, Grown Ups & Despicable Me.

@lost in confusion @Bollyfan @cinefreak something is wrong about 'enjoying' a dark film at the expense of people whose plight we cannot even begin to understand. Obviously, with that point of view, this one looks pretentious, any movie will. In that context the other films that are not even about the issue will come across as even more frivolous. At this rate we'll reach the conclusion that only documentaries should be made, capture reality and that's it. The point is that we have to take a movie for what it is and not for what it isn't.

@bollyfan if we start comparing every movie to our all-time favorite, how will we ever like a film?

@ram singh the detailed rating is out of 5. And my bad, you are right, it should have been mentioned without you having to point it out.
Watching in theater certainly changes the experience for me.

Meetu : Its not me alone but a huge number of the population thats comparing Peepli with JBDY. And the comparisons are inevitable since the two belong to the same genre and the latter is an evergreen classic. And nowhere did I say that I didn't like Peepli. I did...but it doesn't connect the way JBDY did...and would do even today.

Secondly, enjoying the film doesn't mean that you were having fun at the plight of someone who's suffering. The film doesn't really poke fun at the suffering farmers at all. Its the media, bureaucrats & politicians who are the butt of jokes here. Moreover, tragedy in extreme becomes comedy and vice-versa. And any dark comedy will have someone or the other suffering. Doesn't mean one shouldn't enjoy it.

Vishal : I would like to quote A.O.Scott (a noted critic) in response to what you say. "Any movie worth arguing is worth a watch. And any movie worth watching is worth arguing about." Entertaining, educational blah blah are all points of individual perception usually. For example, 3 Idiots was entertaining for me, thoughtprovoking for some, both for some more and none for the rest who saw it. You want a film to be entertaining before anything else, others may have different views. Why question the very basic expectations one has from a film?

Cinefreak : I'm not with STUPID! :P

I really like this review of the movie. You provide all the things one might want to know (especially in the final section), you don't give away too much of the plot, and you really made me want to see the movie (more than I already wanted to.)

@Vishal Thanks! It really is 'to each his own' There's just no one, universal parameter to judge a film.

* * *

@cinefreak Budhiya is a calculative guy in his own sphere of life. As soon as he gets the unexpected attention, he doesn't have a clue on how to handle it. Natha on the other hand is the observer, he sees what's happening around him and is driven to make a decision for himself.

I don't think it is fair to reduce 'urban audiences' to caricatures to fit into an individual's image. I'm an urbanite, but I regularly go to remote villages, because like so many of us, I have relatives there. And neither Budhiya nor Natha or even Dhaniya seem exaggerated to me. If at all, amma was a bit exaggerated but we had a neighbor like that in our 'native place' - Endearing despite being loud and abusive because her abuses weren't directed towards me.
To me the film was very dark, because of the way a real serious issue was being laughed at. The very premise is dark - someone committing suicide because the family will receive a compensation after his death.

Will certainly add Mathroobhumi to my 'must watch' list, loved your description of it. And yeah, Hazaron Khwaishey Aisi is awesome too!
Re: Pather Panchali - See if they did it the Ray-way, it would be plagiarizing. This is Anshu Rizvi's view of society around her. To like it or not, is completely our decision, but to ask her to make our view of the world, is asking for the impossible.

'Talent is completely absent' - this sentence hurts. Navdeep Singh? Kay Kay Menon? Konkona Sen Sharma? Shanker Raman? Chitrangadha? Anurag Kashyap? Shimit Amin? Saif Ali Khan? Jaideep Sahni? only to name a few - None of their work appeal to you?

* * *

@lost in confusion thanks for speaking on my behalf but let's tone it down a bit. Calling names doesn't really make for healthy discussion.

* * *

@GOne Thanks. But aren't you guilty of the same accusation? So, let's just all settle down here and focus on what we all love - films!

@Bollyfan I think comparing is a huge issue. If we compare films we will never be able to like/dislike a film for what it is. Already film-watching is dependent on so many things - background, kind of films you are exposed to, you mood that day, your health that day, the people you are watching it with both known and unknown, etc, etc ,etc. I just like to avoid adding comparison to the list.

Well when we laugh at amma yelling at Dhaniya - we are laughing at Dhaniya who is in a sorry state - she is right in being angry at everyone around her, she is a strong woman and yet we laugh at her - we are laughing at amma - the poor bed-wridden oldie. Both musn't have seen any joy in life, even according to their definition of joy, let alone ours. And this is true of most of the situations involving the villagers. Like I was telling @cinefreak, the very premise of the film - farmers contemplating suicide, so that they get a compensation is soaked in dark humor which almost always involves laughing at someone else's plight. And I feel bad when I'm laughing; though I am laughing and thus enjoying it, right.

* * *

@Sakhi Thank you!!

Meetu : I feel that a comparison between similar films, if done within well-defined parameters, is not wrong. And going by your logic of the other factors, the very concept of comparison shouldn't exist.'s my post on the comparison, if I may...

@Bollyfan yeah, i'm told my take on 'comparisons' is not the popular one. Oh well, such is life...

@lost in confusion in general, i avoid reacting to personal attacks, because it is giving something more attention than it deserves.
Let's bygone be bygones and talk about films now!

@lost in confusion much appreciated!

@Ashish unlikely. I think I am past being impressed or averse to banners. I liked it for what it was.

@Jitaditya :)

@Trupz Oh yeah...movies as a part of the that will be the day

@Nirmal That's the one! Yep, the one in Omkara. I agree he hasn't been best at picking films in the last few years.

>>"but what good are Oscars if Slumdog can win them."
LOL! loved the line!!

>>"you have done quite a decent review in a long time. (sorry!)"
Did you mean "have not"

@Nirmal oh thank you! If you could be specific about how the other reviews have been confusing, I could take the feedback into consideration next time onwards.

Peeli live is a story of indian soul. It touchs our heart with humour. In it we laugh at our own helpless people. Its a first filim goes for Oscar for narrating our own story like majid majidi did for Iran.

Leave a Comment