Peepli Fail

August 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm (Uncategorized)

I am sorry to burst the bubble of many (including fellow reviewers), but Peepli Live is NOT a very smart, exhilarating, revolutionary, mould-breaking film. If anything, it is, at best, an honest attempt at doing something which is not run of the mill and when Anusha Rizvi decided to not replicate a Hollywood film, that was the battle half won. I can assure you that had it not been for the publicity bandwagon of Aamir Khan productions, this film would have sunk without a trace. A film with the right heart but in the wrong place in the body, best sums up Peepli Live

Let’s not be completely negative and look at the positives first. The film tracks the journey of Natha in a nondescript village in a fictional state in India called Mukhya Pradesh. Peepli Live brilliantly captures the media circus that engulfs the Indian TV today. The torment facing the English-speaking media in the face of TRP wars with the Hindi-speaking news channels and the Sophie’s choice between stooping to their levels or sticking to their guns is portrayed on the screen by a Barkha-Dutt wannabe and a Jaspal Bhatti look/soundalike (Standout performance). Natha’s mom, who is on the cot in the entire movie, is a scene stealer with some choice dialogues and great delivery. Natha’s wife’s apathy towards the suicide plan or the spectacle surrounding it is refreshing. The vitriol between the mom and her daughter in law are the only time when one could hear a few laughs in the movie hall (besides the times when the four letter words were uttered). The music, which has an authentic rustic feel, has been a smash hit. As I said before, overall an honest attempt at depicting an issue that rarely makes it to the silver screen, despite its obvious bearings on this nation.

But Rizvi’s attempt at satire fails primarily because of a lack of either wit or irony in the script. The film is funny in small bits and pieces but falls flat on a whole, to qualify as a genuine satire. The central theme of exploitation of farmers by politicians for political gains, at times displayed through montages, gets ultimately overshadowed by the media circus. The script tatters away by the second half despite the crisp editing and the 96 minute running time. The motley crew cast’s performances are undistinguished but passable. I personally was appalled by the wasted sub-plot of the farmer who dies digging a hole. And poor Natha and his brother are hardly seen on-screen in the second half.

A few critics had compared Peepli Live to Jaane bhi do yaaron, which had got me really excited. After watching the movie though, it feels as if someone stuck a dagger in every JBDY’s fan and then twisted it over and over again. I shall not lose hope though. Peepli Live will ultimately be a commercial success and will encourage film makers to make movies, that will one day match the stature reached by Bollywood satire in JBDY.

Peepli Live is the perfect example of how a publicity machine (and reputation) can make an unexceptional movie a success. One of the promos for Peepli Live has a journalist questioning, “Aamir Khan has gone mad. Does he think he can make any type of movie and it will work?” Unfortunately, I have to agree with him.

Genre: Satire

Rating: Double Yawnnnnnn

Go watch it with: A Journo friend (preferably from the Hindi language news channels)

Go watch it for: The media jamboree

Peepli Live

Peepli Live



  1. cheeku said,

    I tried to make sense out of the overshadowing of the original topic by ‘understanding’ that all the issues are related and the odds of state machinery and the politics and the irresponsible media are collectively responsible for the failure of any steps to solve such issues…………

    And Amir Khan !!! 😐 I hate him and his publicity tactics…!!

    • Simran said,

      That is an interesting take. Maybe trying to cram too much into one film was the reason for the boriyat.

      We as Indians, need to demand more from our film makers just as we should demand more from the administrators. They should be made to realize that just a hatke topic isn’t enough to make a good film.

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