‘Mehsampur’ Movie Review: A film that feels like abstract art

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Source: Film Tribe | YouTube

This is an unprecedented style of filmmaking in the Indian Cinema and, definitely, a work brimming with brilliance.

(Thanks to Jagran Film Festival Delhi 2019 for the screening of this gem of a film)

In this film, death is imminent. And it doesn’t befall characters because of natural causes. It’s because the actions of the characters do not get approval by the masses. They do keep going for a while with little support. But, eventually, they succumb to a tragic end. Director Kabir Singh Chowdhry’s Mehsampur intends to explore the life of a Punjabi singer named Amar Singh Chamkila through Devrath (Devrath Joshi) and trace the events that resulted in the assassination of Chamkila.

Chamkila had more haters than supporters for the controversies he gave rise to. It was in Mehsampur where he breathed last. It is the enigma surrounding his death that propels Devrath, who is a filmmaker, to traverse difficult terrain and find everything about Chamkila at all costs to make a film on him. As Devrath goes about his business, you keep your options open and keep pondering over if the film is a documentary or a docu-fiction as it never settles on to one. This transition which Kabir lends to this drama is something that you really have to experience yourself. This is an unprecedented style of filmmaking in the Indian Cinema and, definitely, a work brimming with brilliance.

The film gives you a psychedelic experience. You randomly get to see flashes of old, blurred, muted videos of Chamkila performing on a stage. Sometimes, it looks like the camera was being vigorously shaken while a few of the scenes were being shot. There are noisy, eerie visuals of a combine harvester moving through a field of crops (When this combine harvester appears again towards the end, it’s astonishing to realise the significance of this seemingly-irrelevant-noisy-shot-at-first). There’s a guy singing at a bar and, weirdly enough, as he tries to express his emotions through the song, you can’t help but think if he’s drugged.

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Source: Film Tribe | YouTube

The interviews that Devrath conducts with people who knew Chamkila were not short of sidesplitting comedy instances. You see Devrath asking a guy to repetitively act like a drunkard throwing a stone in a busy street. You see him getting annoyed by a singer as she, instead of telling him anything about Chamkila, starts singing a song instead. Devrath, also, doesn’t stop from recording everything when he has got an opportunity to interview someone. So, when he interviews Lal Chand (a guy who survived and escaped from Chamkila’s assassination scene), he can’t help but take a close-shot of Lal Chand’s inner thigh on his camcorder from the ground level.

Only thing that didn’t work for me was the character arc of Manpreet (Navjot Randhawa) with whom Devrath has had a sexual relationship. But the praise must be given to the scene where intercourse happens between the two which was so realistically and perfectly shot arousing the sexual feelings inside you.

Even though this Manpreet’s character plays a bit of a spoilsport at the later stages of the movie, Director Kabir’s extraordinary filmmaking skills come to the fore and mostly overpower the dampness created by that character. Mehsampur is a change that you need amidst the swarm of poorly executed, mundane big-budget films. It’s the never-before-seen thingy. Kabir makes sure that you have one more example at hand to show the world why movies are one of the greatest forms of art.

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Chalne Do Movie Review: An intelligent film infused with seductions, love-affair and betrayal

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Source: Anticlock Films | Youtube

It’s the Utsav Banerjee’s intelligent screenplay along with Nikunj’s vision that makes this one of the greatest films I have ever seen.

(Thanks to 10th Jagran Film Festival Delhi 2019 for the screening of this remarkable film)

The power of the longest dissertation is in its in-depth coverage. Sometimes even a small piece of writing can be more meaningful and insightful than a longer counterpart. Director Nikunj Rathod’s Chalne Do (Keep Going) is a 42-minute feature film that, considering its short running time, comes bundled with plenty on offer. Nikunj’s brilliance comes to the fore when we start realising that the number ‘two’ is deeply ingrained in the film in different forms and makes it all the more impressive.

To begin with, the entire movie is in black and white colours. The title of the film has two words- ‘Chalne’ and ‘Do’. And these two words don’t appear on the screen together. ‘Chalne’ appears first and after a few scenes, ‘Do’ comes on to the screen (When ‘Do’ does make an appearance, you marvel at its timing and the relevance it accompanies with the film’s story). The use of Schrödinger’s cat, a thought experiment that shows two different possibilities, amazes you when you understand its relevance with the film’s narrative. There are two titular characters in the film – Saathya (Ruchita Tahiliani arrests you with her exemplary performance in this character) and Roop (Rahaao lends an engrossing act in this role).

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Source: Anticlock Films | Youtube

As the film tries to establish a relationship between Saathya and Roop, their two different sides get uncloaked. Saathya is trying to create a balance between her reel life aspirations and real life. She, in a scene, says that there’s a good person as well as a bad person dwelling inside everyone but people only see you as either a good or a bad person. As the film goes on to reveal two such different shades of Rahaao, you wonder at how marvellously Nikunj has shown Saathya, who’s in need of a companion, has failed to notice the negative side of Rahaao. When you think of it, the literal meaning of Saathya (which is, a companion or a friend) and Roop (which is, a form) aptly suit the respective characters (Hats off to Nikunj).

The romance between Saathya and Roop, as they go out for a walk on a rainy night and stick close to each other under an umbrella, is beautiful to watch. The tricks played by Saathya, in Roop’s presence, is seductive. The best moment, in this love angle, comes when Saathya is standing on the beach and Roop slowly walks towards her. The camera captures her from the ground level so that the full moon in the night sky is visible (Ah! What a sight that makes in this black and white setting).

It’s the Utsav Banerjee’s intelligent screenplay along with Nikunj’s vision that makes this one of the greatest films I have ever seen.

‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ Movie Review: A mind-bending and thrilling film that presents male violence against women with a whole new approach

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You acquiesce to the brilliance of Dhillon’s superlative writing and allow the film to unfurl the answers to your questions all by itself.

As the film begins and accreditations to the cast and crew appear on the screen, you get to see origami made out of newspaper cut-outs. Each of them accompanies itself with grim headlines about rape or domestic violence by men against women. Reading such headlines (for instance, a father burnt her daughter alive) unsettles you.

Director Prakash Kovelamudi’s Judgementall Hai Kya isn’t exactly a film about a woman suffering under male dominance or violence. It’s a complex story that traverses different paths and confuses you in the process before finally presenting a ‘big reveal’ (Be prepared to be amazed when that happens). It’s about a woman trying to save another woman from the grasp of a man who is disguised as a different person. It’s also about a man trying to save his wife from falling prey to false claims of another woman. There’s a constant pursuit of finding the real accused who killed an innocent woman. Amidst all of this, there are women in the film who fall victim to a man’s cruelty as he burns them alive and enjoys their shrieks.

The two main characters in the film are Bobby (Kangana Ranaut) and Keshav (Rajkummar Rao). Bobby has a mental disorder called “acute psychosis” as a doctor explains in the film. Bobby’s so-called boyfriend, Varun (Hussain Dalal), explains, in layman’s terms, that she has “complexes” in her mind. Ever since she was a small girl, she has shown particular attention towards helpless women being bogged down by men’s brutality. It is this propensity towards women’s sufferings that makes her collect newspaper clippings on such news and make origami out of them. She winds up meeting Keshav as he, along with his wife (played by Amyra Dastur whose sensual scenes, in particular, with Rajkummar Rao were outstanding), rent a house of which Bobby is the landlord. Keshav’s character doesn’t give you a clear perception of what he’s like. Sometimes he is shown to be a good husband who is affectionate towards his wife. But you also get to see him doing peculiar things, which even Bobby notices, and make you believe he might not be a good person and hiding a villainous side of him. Things start turning topsy-turvy when Bobby gets “obsessed” with Keshav. She not only develops a feeling of lust towards Keshav but also gathers doubts if he’s intending to kill his wife.

The film, then, leaves you startled, as the events that follow tests your ability to guess who’s the killer and who’s the saviour. Well, the credit goes to Kanika Dhillon’s fantastic writing, of course, for lending the film this absolute power of surprising you at all instances and never allowing you to settle down or have a sigh of relief. You always juggle between your assumptions based on different evidence that the film produces at every stage. After a while, you acquiesce to the brilliance of Dhillon’s superlative writing and allow the film to unfurl the answers to your questions all by itself. In short, just let Bobby do the judgement. The amazing background score and the horror-film-like feel makes the film even more thrilling.

The comedy instances involving Varun and Bobby were especially hilarious. Varun, in a scene, tries to convince Bobby that it’s about time they get married and have sex. Bobby replies childishly saying that they are doing exactly what married couples do, that is, buy groceries together. Varun also constantly complains of being “used” by her. He, evoking gales of laughter, reveals that the condom, he had in his pocket for so long with the hope of having sex with her, has “expired” without being used.

There are some minor loopholes felt in the film. There’s a character called Megha (Amrita Puri) who is pregnant in the film. She has escaped a life-threatening situation and lost her husband. But she doesn’t show any kind of consternation in her countenance (She calmly says thanks to Bobby). In another scene, Bobby, after an attacker slits her wrists, gets admitted in a hospital. She escapes from the hospital and all of a sudden, despite her poor health, manages to appear at Megha’s doorstep, in an outfit, that represents an Indian mythological figure. There’s another scene where Keshav is being interrogated by a couple of policemen. Keshav dissuades them from charging anything against him. His efforts of proving his innocence before policemen, where he bewails the loss of his wife, feel superficial and devoid of emotions as if the whole act is purposely done for the audience to catch something uncanny there. Don’t bother if you see policemen failing to notice that. A film that has so many unexpected turns could have done away with such an attempt. With that being said, the film’s narrative is so abundant with surprises and mind-boggling scenes, these little loopholes seem trivial. The film can’t have made such an impact if not for exemplary acts from Rajkummar Rao and Kangana Ranaut. If you are in the mood for a rollicking, engrossing, funny and a mind-blowing film, then Judgementall Hai Kya is for you.

Chintu Ka Birthday Movie Review: A moving tale of a family, in search of happier times, getting into undue trouble

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Source: Jagran Film Festival

Chintu Ka Birthday is a film which seeks to find happiness amidst all troubles. In this, the innocence prevails over brutality.

Thanks to Jagran Film Festival 2019, I was able to watch the ‘India Premiere’ of ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’.

It’s Chintu’s (Vedant Chibber) birthday and his father, Madan (Vinay Pathak is fantastic in this role), has requested his wife, Sudha (Tillotama Shome), to sing a song which she used to sing when Chintu was a new-born baby. So sings Sudha and she is joined by Chintu’s grandmother (Seema Bhargava). The family members and their Iraqi landlord, Hassan Mahdi (Khaled Masso lends an amazing performance in this character), find themselves spellbound by the beauty of the song. The euphonious and captivating song soothes your heart too and makes you feel the warmth and gladness.

This is one of those transient instances in Chintu Ka Birthday, directed by Devanshu Singh and Satyanshu Singh, where you get to see this family in a jovial mood and having a nice time together. The duo of Devanshu and Satyanshu decide to explain the problematic situation, which the family is in, through a 6-year-old Chintu. Rightfully so, as Chintu narrates the story, where we get to know how his father came to Iraq to earn a living and eventually brought his family too before the country’s political situation worsened and terrorism started taking the centre-stage, there comes an animated depiction of the entire narration (You can find yourself with a smile on your face during this entire cartoon sequence). The film tells you that the Indian Government has claimed that it has brought back all the Indians from Iraq. Chintu’s family is one of those who are stuck in Iraq with no help.

The film shows one day in the life of Chintu and his family. The plan for celebrating Chintu’s birthday is in full swing. Everyone is making sure that unlike previous years, this year the birthday celebration doesn’t get ruined no matter what. The situation outside doesn’t look promising and Chintu’s sister, Lakshmi (Bisha Chaturvedi), comes back home without a cake. But she makes sure that, with help from her mother, she prepares one herself at home. You see Madan fixing an old oven for the preparation of cake. Even their Iraqi landlord Mahdi sings an Arabic song to Chintu to cheer him up.

A bomb goes off outside their house and that’s when things come to a standstill. It saddens you as the mirthfulness, the family is in, comes to a halt. Two new characters enter the scene at this stage. These are the American soldiers Reed (Nate Scholz) and Jackson (Reginald L. Barnes) who, after the bomb blast, have come to check their house.

It pains you to see what the family goes through. The horror-struck faces of each of the members make you feel how frightened they are. A father, who just wanted to make his son happy, gets harsh treatment from the soldiers. The dejectedness in Lakshmi is palpable as her cake gets burnt in the oven. It hurts you to see one of the soldiers unapologetically removing and tearing off this big paper pasted on the wall that read “Happy Birthday Chintu”. The presence of Iraqi landlord and findings of some DVDs based on terrorist camps at their house doesn’t help their cause too as Madan is presumed to be supporting terrorists.

As the film is shot entirely inside one house, you only get to feel the horrible situation of outsides through one medium – sound. You get to feel that a bomb went off outside the house but do not get to actually see the wreckage. There is a military helicopter flying above the house and you get to sense that through the noise created by its rotor. There is, of course, an instance when the movie does try to show you what it’s like outside the premises of this house. One of the American soldiers steps out of the house to check on the commotion and gets fired at from somewhere before he slips back inside. So, there is always a feeling of terror that the film brilliantly creates.

The few chucklesome instances are well-executed. For instance, in a scene, Madan playfully tells his son that there is a cake waiting for his son as can be seen by his ‘third’ eye. But on Lakshmi’s empty-handed return, Chintu complains about his father’s prediction going wrong. There’s a scene in which Chintu’s friends Waheed (Mehroos Mir) and Zainab (Amina Afroz) pay a visit and Waheed introduces Zainab as Chintu’s girlfriend. Waheed doesn’t just stop there and goes on to greet Jackson, who is African-American, as “nigga”. In another instance, Madan explains the meaning of his name to the soldiers with reference from Kamasutra. Jackson, later on, resorts to calling him by the name of ‘Kamasutra’ itself.

After a long hassle with the soldiers, there comes a moment when the cake is finally being cut by Chintu as the family merrily sing together wishing him a happy birthday. As the balloon, placed above him, bursts and sparkles come pouring down, the sheer excitement in him is discernible. Madan’s earnest wish of celebrating his son’s birthday comes true. Although one of the soldiers watches them celebrate without showing any emotion on his face, it moves you to see them rejoicing together finally. And then, Reed springs a surprise in the end (You need to watch it to really feel it).

As the movie comes to a close, the camera shows a top view as Chintu lies on his bed and looks up. It slowly moves towards him and the movie ends. Chintu is hopeful that troubled times will be long gone by and he might one day be back home in India. Chintu Ka Birthday is a film which seeks to find happiness amidst all troubles. In this, the innocence prevails over brutality.

‘Game Over’ Movie Review: A jaw-dropping and heart-stopping thriller

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The horrors that you get to experience in Game Over are on a whole new high. Such an arresting act by Taapsee Pannu!

Swapna (an immensely powerful performance from Taapsee Pannu for the protagonist) is sharing her experience of fear and breathlessness, that she had inside a dark room, to a Doctor. While she does so, the camera steadily, slowly and quietly enters the room moving from right to left. In another scene, on the outside, Kalamma (Vinodhini Vaidyanathan), Swapna’s caretaker, can be seen from the window grills to be hanging the clothes out to dry. The camera, which is inside the room, leisurely moves towards the window producing an eerie feeling out of normal activity. And, in another instance, a close shot captures the lighting of a thick candle. Then there’s a slow-motion sequence in black-and-white where Swapna looks jovial while getting inked. During this, there’s a close shot of ink being dropped in a glass of water that gets slowly spread around and mixed up. Sometimes, inside a dimly-lit room, the camera cautiously moves towards a door creating a strange feeling. You also listen to the creak of a swing chair, as the camera ploddingly goes towards it, outside the house.

A. Vasanth’s cinematography is the very first thing that stands out as the film gives you glimpses of different elements of the story. Perhaps this is not anywhere close to the brilliant camera work of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. But it is definitely among the greatest works in Indian cinema. It just presented Director Ashwin Saravanan’s Game Over in a different light altogether. Of course, Ashwin’s vision is a big factor too. It’s not just the stupendous camera work that excites you but also how important these detailed shots turn out to be as the movie progresses.

The core of the narrative in Game Over is about incidents of some unknown men taking videos of women while torturing them, beheading them and then burning their headless body. One of those women in the film, who ends up being the target of these men, is Swapna. The film does not dwell too much on this character’s life. We take a gander at her past life where she is seen to have been kept in captivity inside a dark room and being tortured. This agonising incident is etched in her memory so much so that she finds herself in a state of terrible uneasiness when she encounters darkness inside a room. The tattoo, that she has on one of her forearms, resembling a video game controller, as she is a game freak, turn out to be a memorial tattoo that contains the ashes of a dead woman. Towards the intermission, the film can make you feel a bit of restlessness as Swapna’s fear of dark room and being a victim of torture (that never gets elaborated but only shown briefly) may seem repetitive and dragged a little. Even the tattoo is used as something that can add sentimental value to the film (The dead woman’s mother comes to see Swapna and have a feel of the memorial tattoo as it contains ashes of her daughter but it doesn’t move you because the focus was never really on building the story of this dead woman character).

Ashwin decides to finish off the first half of the movie with a message on the screen that says, “Game On”. Well, it literally means ‘What if life is a game’ (You will understand why when you see it). It’s the post-interval part that keeps you on the edge of the seat with your eyes popping out and mouth wide open in fearfulness. Every detailed camera shot that you saw in the first half will start finding meaning in the second half. There’s a headless body sitting in the swing chair. The head cut off from the body is thrown at the window. Swapna’s fear of darkness comes to the fore and this time with even more intensity. Men, all covered up in a black outfit, carrying daggers, don’t just sit on the couch and give a villainous look but also slit the throat instantly. The thick candle shown earlier comes into play as well as it, along with a flammable oil, is used for setting fire on one of these men and burn them.

The amazing music by Ron Ethan Yohann gives a boost to thrilling sequences in the film. The film is, one might say, India’s answer to Jordon Peele’s Get Out. The horrors that you get to experience in Game Over is on a whole new high, just like Get Out, but it also comes at a price. Like Get Out, amidst the shockers and thrillers, you may feel some of the elements not fully developed and left half-baked. But you won’t be thinking about all that after such an arresting act by Taapsee Pannu and heart-stopping experience that you get while watching this film.

Super Deluxe Movie Review: Sink into the ethereal blissfulness

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Source: Twitter | Gopi Prasannaa

Super Deluxe leaves you with thoughts – about life, our existence, the perception of normalcy and questions over what is considered right (or wrong)

Greatness of Director Thiagarajan Kumararaja, who garnered towering praise for his debut film Aaranya Kaandam, was well-known. His second film Super Deluxe is beyond greatness. It’s blissful and enlightening. After a thrilling and exceptional neo-noir gangster movie like Aaranya Kaandam, Thiagarajan has taken several leaps forward since then and there’s an unprecedented masterclass shown by him through his latest film. Super Deluxe leaves you with thoughts – about life, our existence, the perception of normalcy and questions over what is considered right (or wrong).

Super Deluxe has three disconnected stories (Not to forget that it is powered by super-stylish background score of Yuvan Shankar Raja). When I say disconnected, it means that they have no real dependence on one another and the events in each of those stories are taking place without any relation to the other. But somehow their worlds collide at some point and alter the lives of characters involved completely. There’s a lot happening in these stories that keep you on your edges throughout the movie. A small kid named Rasukutty (Ashwanth Ashokkumar), in the first story, is excited to see his father returning home after several years. And when his father returns, he is, now, revealed to be a transwoman named Shilpa (Vijay Sethupathi) which leaves his wife Jyothi (Gayathrie’s dejected and shocked countenance in this role moves you) in utter shock. The second story shows a group of teenage boys adroitly planning for a movie time together. Why is planning required in the first place just to watch a movie? They are planning to watch a porn movie and revel in sexual pleasures that they will obtain from it. The ultimate revelation as they play the movie on television is that the actress turns out to be one of the boys’ mother. The third story shows that Vaembu (Samantha Akkineni) has slept with her ex-boyfriend in her home and he has died just after the sex. While she is frozen with horror, she looks out from her window and sees that her husband Mugilan (Fahadh Faasil) is returning home on his motorcycle. The intriguing start to all of these three stories sets the wheels turning right from the incipient stage. The film never allows you to slip into a train of thoughts and its interesting turn of events keeps you engrossed throughout.

The entire first half of the movie is evenly mixed with both the seriousness and the humour. It is only in the second half that the gravity of those grave situations starts to overpower the hilarity attached to them. Take the case of transwoman Shilpa (Vijay Sethupathi has outstandingly shed his masculine nature and has lent a terrific performance). It is hilarious when Rasukutty repeatedly runs to the door to see if his father has arrived. And when he does arrive, Rasukutty’s grandfather, funnily, due to his old age, has no clue who that is. Even though Rasukutty accepts his father for what he is now, the outside world has not welcomed Shilpa with open arms. Shilpa is sexually abused by a police officer Berlin (Bagavathi Perumal is amazing in this character) and even mocked at by school children (A direct potshot at the importance of sex education for children). In another story, there are comedic instances where Vaembu openly confesses that she had intercourse with the man who died immediately after sex and her husband Mugilan tries to take a look at dead man’s penis to figure out if that’s the difference between him and the dead man. Later, a threat from police officer Berlin and his demand for intercourse with Vaembu makes you uncomfortable. In the story involving the teenage boys, their meet up with the boss of goons and their pursuit of money remains one of the most side-splitting instances in the film. But one of the boys is admitted in a hospital and it’s agonising to see his mother Leela (Ramya Krishnan), a former porn actress, begging to Doctor to start the surgery. It shows the horrifying reality of some of the hospitals taking no interest in saving lives but to rake in money. The situation gets worsened when Arputham (Mysskin), the religious and superstitious father of the dying boy, takes his son to his place of worship in the hope of saving his life (You really get annoyed by this superstitious Arputham character. That’s how well this character is written).

I was mesmerised by the camera work and the detailed shots. Shots captured using still camera were phenomenal (As Shilpa is strolling along the street with Rasukutty, in one scene, the colourful posters on the wall makes up for a picturesque shot). Sometimes, the background scenes play important role in defining a moment and even explain so much about the situation a character is in (Rasukutty suddenly gets lost and Shilpa frantically searches about the street. At this instant, we see ‘Real World, Magic Event’ scribbled on a wall). Even the depiction of life in different forms enthrals you. No matter how much trouble you are in, there is a life beyond your purview which keeps moving (Vaembu and Mugilan are caught in a complicated situation. A dead man is kept inside their refrigerator. Some guests are sitting in their living room. Amidst all this, the camera closely focuses on the ants busily crawling up the wall).

With the representation of lust, infidelity, extraterrestrial life, superstition, sexual abuse, sex education, dejection, merriment, harsh reality and everything in between, Super Deluxe has a much bigger thing to convey. And in what style! The teenage boys go to a cinema hall to watch a porn movie called ‘Super Deluxe’ and it’s through this adult film, we get to look at a much bigger picture of life as a guy narrates in a preachy and quirky tone. This is a film where Thiagarajan questions what is considered a ‘normal’ life and what should be done (or not to be done) so as to be accepted by society. We get to realise that we all are one. This is one world. Super Deluxe is the greatest Tamil-language Indian film I have ever witnessed. I can even go on to say that it is one of the best films of all time.

Mere Pyare Prime Minister Movie Review: An open letter magnifying the problems of lack of public toilets in India and the rape cases

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Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mere Pyare Prime Minister is a story where Kanhu (Om Kanojiya), an eight-year-old son of Sargam, writes a letter to the Prime Minister, after what happened to his mother, requesting him to build a toilet.

It’s the festival of Holi and, as is customary, Sargam (Anjali Patil) has drunk bhang which is a drink made out of cannabis. Sargam is joined by the entire group of people who live in this basti (Settlement). With everyone having fallen in the mood of celebration, the camera zigzags around to show them enjoying in this festive time, particularly the focus being given on Sargam and her love-interest Pappu (Niteesh Wadhwa). It, then, cuts to wee hours of the morning on the next day. It is still dark as the women in the basti go out together to defecate in the open. While they are heading back to their home, they meet Sargam who has overslept and couldn’t join them. Sargam assures them that she will be fine alone. A woman going out alone at night or in the wee hours, especially in India, is considered so dangerous with the reason being the cruel act that ensues at that spot involving Sargam. She becomes the victim of rape with a police constable acting as the guardian for such heinous crime. Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mere Pyare Prime Minister is a story where Kanhu (Om Kanojiya), an eight-year-old son of Sargam, writes a letter to the Prime Minister, after what happened to his mother, requesting him to build a toilet.

The movie is an open letter to the administration raising concerns over the dearth of public toilets in India. And the best part is that there are no preachy instances to make us understand the gravity of the issue. Kanhu builds a toilet, all by himself, using just a few wooden pieces and a cloth. He, then, takes his friends to a public works department office and has to confront arrogant and unhelpful officials. He, even, travels all the way to the Prime Minister’s office with just a couple of kids to give him company for handing over a handwritten letter that innocently describes the issues faced by him and his mother (All it takes is an effort to make this world better and Rakeysh chooses to educate us through a kid). There is no uncertainty with regards to whether the letter to PM will bring about the desired change. It is just a matter of time when we finally get to see that the PM has stepped in to construct the toilets. It is more about the trauma that women like Sargam go through and how significant the issue is.

Devoid of basic amenities and living amongst the dirt, Sargam and Kanhu can live so happily. This is like an in-your-face answer to the people who crib about small things when there are bigger problems in the world. I loved the scene where Kanhu and Sargam sing “Aati Kya Khandala” before Sargam puts him to sleep. The mother-son relationship is further exemplified when Kanhu returns home after handing over the letter to PM’s office and says, “Maa ke liye kuch bhi kar sakta hoon” (I can do anything for Mother) and all he wants her to do in return is to cook the food spicier. In another scene, Kanhu and his friends are having fun and betting each other on some silly games while defecating in open. There is fun in filth. So, there is definitely a hope for goodness even in troubled times.

It was fantastic to see the way the importance of sexually transmitted disease (STD) is exhibited. It happens through a mature love angle between Sargam and Pappu. He says, in a scene, to a distraught Sargam that he thought about it a lot and he thinks it is better if she undergoes a medical-checkup for STD. He, also, had to say to the nurse in the clinic that the test is for him and asks Sargam to get herself tested as well since she is here. It was brilliantly portrayed to showcase a society where a sexual problem with a man is not as big a deal as it is when the same concerns a woman.

There is not much of a romance going on between Sargam and Pappu as that’s not the main focus of the movie too. But on a few occasions, when ladies in the neighbourhood vouch for him or jokingly say if she slept with him on the night of Holi, there is always a feeling that they will get together. And we want them to be getting along eventually. There have been many marriage proposals, even unique ones. But the mutual agreement between both of them, putting forth their consent for marrying each other without neither of them actually proposing with a straightforward question, is one of those scenes you remember for a long time.

Although I revelled in the scenes where Kanhu and his friends end up selling condoms or asking for donations using fake causes, the narrative was such that there was no conclusive thought given to all of that. They get caught by the police but when Sargam asks Kanhu to apologise to God for doing such illegal things, all he says is that he won’t say sorry to someone who didn’t save you while you became the victim of rape. Kids in the slums shouldn’t beg or steal money no matter what. Nothing of that sort could be inferred in this film. That’s the only weakling I felt in an otherwise spectacularly told story, with credible performances from Anjali Patil and Om Kanojiya in particular, that magnifies the problems of lack of public toilets in India and the rape cases.