wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
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
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
Thumbs up, by Stefan S, A Nutshell Review : ...ne 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 Kriti Pandey, Daily Latest News : ...he doesn’t miss out on his moral responsibilities towards the nation and its people. Read more: http://www.dailylatestnews.com/2010/08/10/peepli-live-review-mocking-satire-political-media-savvy-india-027487#ixzz0wqqWMXtW ... 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, by Samrat Sharma, fullhyd.com : ...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 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 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, india.com : ...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 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, 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 Arpana, IANS, Now Running.com : ...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 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 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 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
So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...as 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 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
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
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.