Oh! the irony of Peepli Live being promoted on news channels! Of course, all new Bollywood films are heavily publicised on news channels; movie stars who are otherwise too busy for anything throughout the year, suddenly have all the time in the world to appear on one channel after another, giving the same old boring soundbytes (you know the ones I mean — about how their role is so different, how their co-stars were so cooperative, how the shooting was such a picnic etc). Mostly one tends to quickly switch channels when these promotional shows come on, but in the case of Peepli Live, as I said, there’s a delicious irony.
Among other things, the film is a pungent satire on the electronic media, right from the way battalions of OB vans descend on the ‘news’ spot, to the extent TV reporters will go to ferret out any bit of information (relevant or irrelevant, but mostly irrelevant) that they can then dub as ‘exclusive’ or ‘breaking news’ (in Peepli Live, this includes a reporter trying to analyse the, er, potty of the person he is tracking).
The reporting style, from the overblown and bombastic (the “Kya is maa ke aansu kabhi nahin sookhenge?” variety) to the inane and ludicrous (“Aapko kaisa lag raha hai?”); the callousness of journalists intent only on the story and TRPs to the exclusion of everything else, the way media intrusion can wreak havoc in people’s lives — all this is there in the film in minute (and hilarious) detail.
Producer Aamir Khan and his team (director Anusha Rizvi, her husband Mahmood Farooqui, and actors Raghubir Yadav and Omkar Das Manikpuri) turned up on most news channels to discuss and thereby promote the film (everyone flashed ‘Exclusive!’ even though there was nothing ‘exclusive’ about it, since exactly the same team was on each and every channel — on the same day, even in the same clothes!).
On IBN7, Aamir was asked by the interviewer — amidst much laughter — why he had made so much fun of the media. His diplomatic answer: the media makes so much fun of movie stars, let the media have its turn too. The fun part of the IBN7 show was a rapid fire round where Aamir was asked the price of tomatoes and capsicum (yes, he was off by at least thirty rupees). He was also asked who he preferred — Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan. “You really want to create a controversy don’t you?” he asked, but he answered the question nevertheless (Salman).
But as I said, the irony was really unmissable. Soon after the Peepli Live show on News24, the news channel had a promo for a show to be telecast later, called ‘Nagin Ka Hisaab,’ presumably about a very, er, intelligent nagin. And on India TV (yet another channel where Aamir and gang appeared), the show was followed by an extremely lengthy report, ‘Aag Ka Gola: Jaan Jaaye Par Aag Na Jaye’ which was all about a contestant on Sony’s new show, Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega. (Need I say more?)
On Star News too, Aamir was asked about why the film had made so much fun of the media; his answer was that the entire film was a satire, and no one had been spared, not even the media.
Indeed, Peepli Live allows for a lively guessing game, since it’s quite clear that several of the characters in the film (the TV journalists, mostly) are based on actual TV anchors and reporters. And the portrayals are like extreme close-ups, warts and all. They are also — like the rest of the film — very very funny. Go figure!