Peepli Live is the story of a farmer, Natha Das Manikpuri, who plots to commit suicide to get money from the government.
To make a political satire without getting preachy is an art only a few can master. Anusha Rizvi's 'Peepli Live' is a refreshing example of this art. On this day in 2010, Peepli Live was released in theatres earning a lot of commendation for its portrayal of the issue of farmers' suicide in India. The story revolves around a farmer, Natha Das Manikpuri, who, upon losing his land to debt, plots to commit suicide to get money from the government.
A country like India, whose economy depends on agriculture, doesn't treat its farmers well. As per National Crime Records Bureau, more than 2,96,438 farmers have committed suicide since 1995. These are the statistics, who knows where the actual number stands today? Peepli Live is an effort to give a face to these numbers, to the lived experiences of India's farmers. It illustrates the charm as well as the misery of India's rural areas. It depicts how the system turns everyone into a scavenger. From media to politics, who doesn't want to capitalize on a death?
We're used to watching countless stories on news channels where journalists mob a house in a village cashing in on the story of a grief-stricken family. Journalism, at the end of the day, makes journalists selfish. Each story comes at the expense of exploiting someone's misery for views, reads, clicks, and TRP. While, to us, these are merely stories viewed from within the safe walls of our homes, Peepli Live gives an in-depth view of what goes on behind the story. The film is an excellent reportage of journalism itself, reminding us of the distinction between journalists and activists. It also takes you into the messy world of politics, where the system is not only disorganized but also inherently selfish, where the solution to every issue is a blame game.
One might wonder why one should watch such a serious film when you can watch a mindless comedy and move on with your chores. While Peepli Live does describe a grave matter, it is also hilarious. You cannot help but laugh at the absurdity of the system which is a great Indian circus. However, while you laugh away, it will also remind you that even though sitting in a city might make you believe that you are far away from the rural world, you are actually not. Even in cities, you can find Indian villages in their residents who migrate to cities and take up odd jobs to make a living. The absurdity, hopelessness and helplessness of the system surround us at all times. It just takes a Peepli Live to remind us of that.