Until I saw Indian producer Aamir Khan’s new film, I had never heard of the suicide epidemic among India’s poor farmers between 1997 and 2007, when an estimated 125,000 died by their own hand.
Khan (his 2001 film “Lagaan” was nominated for an Academy Award) has not made a Bollywood film with singing and dancing, though his shrewd use of color and music shows how these cultural motifs can mask the perception of reality. “Peepli Live” is a satire about India’s ineffectual and corrupt government, the media, and the human collateral damage of single-crop farming using genetically modified seed provided by global agribusiness. Both government and industry envision a big financial return for this policy.
In 2010, “Peepli Live” became the first foreign film ever to be shown in competition at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.
Anusha Rizvi wrote the screenplay and codirected it with her husband, Mahmood Farooqui. Their freshman effort has created a film that is as entertaining as it is dreadful.
Natha (Omkar Das Manikpuri) and Budhia (Raghuvir Yadav) are brothers who live in the small farming village of Peepli.