Reality, Unleashed

A political and social satire, a script with a message and a brutally honest picture of the rural population - Peepli Live has it all



Already doing the rounds of different international film festivals Peepli Live explores the gap between rural and urban India. The movie has generated the right buzz courtesy its storyline and producer Aamir Khan’s promotional expertise.

Directed by debutante Anusha Rizvi, it is a satire on farmers’ suicides and the subsequent media and political response in the country.

“People like us who live in cities should get to know a little about the realities of India,” said Rizvi. Added Aamir, “Many things that the film is showing are very crucial and it is similar to my thinking and sensibility.”

This is the fourth film from Aamir Khan Productions Ltd. after Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India (2001), Taare Zameen Par (2007) and Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na(2008).

Filmed in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and New Delhi, the movie revolves around two impoverished farmers - Natha (Omkar Das Manikpuri) and Budhia (Raghubir Yadav), who live in a village called Peepli. They are about to lose their land due to debts when an incompetent politician suggests they commit suicide to get government help. The news spreads and the media turns Natha into a celebrity.

Peepli Live recently won the Best First Feature Film award at the Durban International Film Festival in South Africa. The film also competed in the Sundance Film Festival, the first film from India to do so. The movie was also picked up for a special screening at the Berlin International Film Festival and recently had a premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival MIFF 2010.

ENJOYING THE SPOTLIGHT

It was a role coveted by Aamir Khan, but Omkar Das Manikpuri, who plays the lead in Peepli Live, made the superstar step aside for him with his performance at the casting auditions.

“I never thought that I would ever work in a film, neither did I plan to. Till now I feel that I am in some dream world,” the Chhattisgarh-based theatre actor said. “I would like to work more in this industry and especially with Aamir Khan. Aamirji is a person with a very big heart. He is so down to earth and speaks so well. He never lets me feel that I am with such a big actor, director and producer.”

Omkar remembers his first day on the sets. “I was quite nervous. There was a big camera, people were setting lights, director was shouting silence. I got scared after seeing the setup. I was not sure whether I would be able to deliver or not. Then Anushaji asked me to work as if I was on stage.”

Omkara’s favourite actress is Deepika and he has already met her thanks to Aamir. “Now I want to work with Deepikaji. I had seen her film Om Shanti Om partly when it came on television. Recently I saw her again in a song of Lafangey Parindey and I loved it. Aamirji introduced me to Deepikaji. I am very happy.”

“I have spent almost 10 years in theatre. Aamirji and Anushaji saw my audition and he told me, ‘Omkarji I was planning to play Natha but I am very impressed with your audition. Only you can play Natha’. It was the happiest day of my life,” he said.

Manikpuri’s family and his three children are still in the village and are glued to television and call him whenever they spot him in the film’s promos.

“My children are very happy. They just called me. I am very excited about the film. I am the first actor in my family so they all are very happy to see me in such a big film,” says the actor.


More news from City Times