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Manto's movie

movie reviews Updated: Jan 15, 2011 01:10 IST

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Manto's movie

Peepli Live
Excel/UTV, Rs 299
Rating:****

The phrase 'a movie of our times' has been so overused that you can't be blamed for thinking that a cliché is being hurled at you. But if you haven't already seen writer-director Anusha Rizvi's 2010 dark satire Peepli Live, you should definitely watch the film on DVD. And even if you've seen the film, the special features make it worthwhile to have this on your rack.

The story revolves around Natha, who, goaded by his brother Budhia, agrees after a great deal of hesitation to commit suicide so that his family can get Rs 1 lakh compensation. The two down-in-the-dumps Peepli farmers are hardpressed rural India's version of Beckettian tramps. But the real protagonist is the media that descends on Peepli upon smelling a major story and sucking it dry. Rizvi succeeds in keeping the perfect tone throughout the film that is pure Manto set in today's time of the aam admi as the object of veneration.

What makes the film more than just good satire is its insistence on 'keeping it real', making the whole madness of a tubewell gifted to Natha under a 'Lal Bahadur' government scheme, the pathos of a small-time Hindi reporter in awe of a big-shot English TV channel star reporter, the death of a man who surreally digs holes to earn a living and the raucous machinations of politicians seem absurd — made doubly absurd by the fact that all this is nitty gritty of 21st century India.

The documentary 'Live from Peepli' is a precious supplement to the actual movie telling us how the film was made and the ideas that took shape on celluloid in unfiltered detail.

Comedy for morons

Dinner for Schmucks
Big Home Video/DreamWorks, Rs 599
Rating:*

Imagine The Cable Guy without Jim Carrey and a great deal less funny. You've got Jay Roach's Dinner for Schmucks. Based on the 1998 French film Le Diner de Coins by Francis Veber, the film is comedy hitched to a soppy horse about a stuff mice artist Barry being used by an ambitious executive Tim to enhance his career.

How? If Tim can bring a genuine dunce to the boss's party and tops the contest of bringing the biggest idiot, he gets the prize. There are occasional moments of genuine funninness courtesy Steve Carell who plays the dim-witted but trying-so-desperately-to-be-a-friend Barry (like his altercations with Tim's sexually deranged stalker whom he mistakes to be his friend's girlfriend). But the film tries too hard to be funny all the time and in the process leaves an ooze of a school skit in its wake. This is a movie for dolts.

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