I remember watching Jaane bhi do yaaron for the first time ever on 26 January 2010 i.e. Republic Day. I had heard it to be the funniest Hindi film ever, instead I found it be one of the saddest films ever (of course, not in a ridiculing sort of way!). There was this uneasy hopelessness and a feeling of tragedy associated with it..as a black comedy, it was meant to be this way but it made me real sad..And see the co-incidence of fate, here I am watching Peepli [Live] on a day before 15 August i.e. Independence Day..
Peepli [Live] is one of the finest films that I have seen in a long long time and must say I had the privilege of watching a film second day first show ;) that would go down as a classic in the years to follow. Another black comedy in the same league as Jaane bhi do.. the satirical film would leave you in splits. Behind the veneer of humour, the movie is full of pathos and has a utter melancholy and dystopian side attached to it.
By now, many of you who haven't see the film (Stop reading this crap and watch it now), the film is about a debt ridden farmer who is tricked by his brother who convinces him to commit suicide as his death would give them monetary compensation to survive. A local reporter overhears this and contacts a national TV channel for this 'Exclusive' story. And here it starts, the India TV syndrome to grab the most eyeballs leads to all channels covering this story leading to a mela at Natha's house. Since Peepli by-elections are also taking place, the politicians enter the fray as they say 'rajneeti ki rotiyaan sekna'. The beauty of the film lies that without preaching so much it tries to portray so many issues - the paid news, the media wars, the caste politics, the corruption, the useful (or useless) schemes, rural migration, American lobbying, the life in rural India, the sensationalism in the media, and so many more..
In one scene, Naths's brother Budhia says something like this "agar marega to kitni izzat hogi" and Natha replies "agar zinda hi nahi rahenge to izzat ka kya karenge." In another dialogue (the strength of the film), a politician says "aaj kal zindagi to bell bottom ho gayi hai, aur khudh khushi to jeans se nikalta hua pet." The obsession to grab TRPs is so fierce that Natha is followed even when he goes to defecate "18vi baar ja raha hai lagta hai julaab ho gaya hai" or that scene where Deepak psychoanalyses Nath'a multi colored turd "Manovigyaniko ke mutabik manushya ke mal se uski mansik stithi ka pata lagaya ja sakta hai aur yeh raha Natha ka aakhri aasan"
My favourite subplot of the film was with Rakesh and the poor farmer Mahto. Rakesh watching the eight-pack ab ribs showing farmer digging and he remarks "C******, kaun sa khajana khod raha hai", later realising that Mahto used to sell that mud to a brick kiln to survive and one day Mahto dies while digging, as if in a way all this time he was digging his own grave.. This scene brought a lump in my throat.. In another hard hitting scene, Rakesh goes and tells Nandita ( a Brakha Dutt look alike) that does only Natha matter? Don't the lives of other nameless farmers who are living in horrifying conditions matter to us? and she pragmatically replies "This is journalism, if you can't survive it then don't be in it" This scene summed up what we are witnessing in our society today...
Apart from the media, the politician class isn't spared either.. the red tape has become so entrenched in our bureaucracy that even Kafka would be surprised. Rajeev Gandhi famously remarked that only 15 paise reach the poor of every one rupee spent on them. It's not that we do not have the resources but everyone wants to have a pie of the resources. Like the election symbol of the Jan Samman Party (look at the irony, samman???) was a lock and a key, but the problem is who will put the key in the lock? Lal Bahadur to de diya lekin use lagvayega kaun? TV to de diya lekin bijli kaun dega ghar me?? Natha card to start kar diya lekin lagoo state governments karengi (the same is happening with Right to Education).. Mare hue kisano ke liye yojana hai lekin zinda kisano ke liye nahi.. marne ke ichhuk kisano ke liye ek yojana start kar do.. How ridiculous is that?
But perhaps, my best scene was when Natha's goat playfully nudges him while he tries to sleep and he tries to shoo them away, but ultimately gives in to them and he starts playing with them.. Amazing scene..vulnerable, innocent, dreamy Natha..
Take a bow Anusha Rizvi (and please can we have less of publicity hungry Aamir Khan) it is her script and the script and the direction truly belong to her. A special mention for all characters epecially beedi phuking kickass Amma and her fiesty kulta Bahu, Budhia, Deepak, Rakesh, and Nandita..Mahangayi dayan and desh mera rangras hai babu deserve special mention too..
Talking of media, I remember in Class 11, in English exam, we had to write on "In India, the media is glamour struck". Since it was pre-India TV days, everybody had gone on and on about how media is obsessed with Bollywood ( I know Siddharth would hate me even more for using this term) and then our ma'am said it is not only about Bollywood, the glamour in the sense means that the media has made an issue as tragic and scary as the Iraq war in to some sort of a fantasy. And how things have changed, if we are told to write on this topic today, books could be written. I am not crtiticising the media but the needless romanticisation that it has become famous for. The 26/11 attacks, the Sania Shoaib marriage, the Prince in a hole, the Arushi murder case, the Gudiya-what will-she-do-now case (remember her, the lady who was raped by her father in law) and so many more issues that media has gone overboard.. Peepli [Live] showcase this brilliantly..The Saif 12vi-umar-ka-chumbhan!!
I have gone a bit hyperbole (an understatement) but Peepli made me think a lot. I wanted to write about left and right wing economic policies as well but I guess I will keep them for another post.
Long time, I had written about a movie. Peepli [Live] is worth watching again and again..
P.S. Since I have written so much of Peepli, dialogue of the day is from the trailer of Anjaana Anjaani
Kiara: Maine tumhe bahut jaane lagi hun..tum anjaane hi acche the Aakash...