‘Peepli Live’ will change nothing: Anusha Rizvi (Interview)
By Dibyojyoti Baksi
Mumbai, Aug 13 (IANS) Debutant director Anusha Rizvi’s “Peepli Live” has opened to rave reviews, but the former journalist doesn’t believe her satire on farmer suicides will change anything. “Nothing can happen until people stand up and regulate the system,” she says.
“Absolutely nothing will happen, the whole state is doing nothing, how can you think that some people will see it and feel the pinch on what they are doing themselves?” Anusha told IANS in an interview here.
“Nothing can happen until people stand up and regulate it. How many of us in the metros even want to think about it?”
Though the script talks about the serious problems, it makes audiences laugh.
“The content of the film has not been made comical by effort. Nothing is comedy. It’s an extremely serious movie. You will laugh because of the way it has been presented, but the laugh will not go easy on you – you will also feel the pinch,” she said.
Released Friday, the film has been produced by Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan and it takes pot shots at the media, politicians and bureaucrats.
“Being in the media I have seen it very closely. In some instances, you can say that it is a sarcastic take on my personal experience of how media deals with an issue.”
“But on the other hand, even if I had not been a journalist and if I had been reading newspapers and watching news channels on a daily basis, I would have come up with the same impression that the observations of the media are not (always) right.”
Asked if her journalistic experience helped her write the script, she said: “No. There have been a number of articles in newspapers and magazines and above all it was more from general awareness. All those things made the script come into being, you know.”
If the issue is universal, why did she shoot the film in Madhya Pradesh?
“It could be anywhere in India. We had to shoot it somewhere and wherever we would have shot it, it would have looked like that. But if you see the film, it says it is Mukhya Pradesh. That means it’s a completely fictitious state and Peepli is a fictitious village in it. Even for the police uniform, we have not used it from any state of India,” said Anusha.
She maintains that around 900 people from across the country were auditioned to select each character.
“The audition was done in a very detailed manner. It was very, very important for the film. It took us a long time and actually the casting department did most of the work. They auditioned 900 people to choose the characters,” said Anusha.
Asked if the association with Aamir helped in the film having a wider reach, she said: “Of course, Aamir is the brand ambassador of the film if you want to call it that way. He already has a big fan following, he has friends and he could take the film to those people with less effort than any one else could have.”
She clarifies that before making the film, she was involved with documentaries and it was not a direct transition from journalism to filmmaking.
“It was not like leaving journalism to come into filmmaking. I left journalism in 2002 as I had done enough of it. I was doing documentary and looking out for funding when I got the idea for this film. So it was not a direct transition from journalism to filmmaking.”
“Peepli Live” was well received in the international film circuit too like the Sundance Film Festival, where it was the first Indian film to be selected for the competition section and the Berlin Film Festival.
The director is overwhelmed after receiving the Best First Feature Film award at the 31st Durban International Film Festival.
“I was completely numb. I think my reactions have all gone haywire. It was so difficult to react to something like that. It was very overwhelming because apart from Aamir and me, there were 150 people who worked day in-day out in on the film. For all of us, it’s a great achievement,” said Anusha.
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