Bollywood’s Aamir Khan is back behind the camera after the success of his comedy “3 Idiots”, with a biting satire on the tensions between rural and urban India, politicians and the media.
“Peepli Live,” made by the actor’s production company, follows two poor farmers who face losing their land over an unpaid debt after poor monsoon rains. A local politician suggests they commit suicide so their families get compensation.
A journalist overhears one of the farmers apparently urging the other to end his own life, triggering a media frenzy about whether he will go through with it, lampooning India’s sensationalist television news channels. Critic and film consultant Meenakshi Shedde wrote in the Economic Times newspaper in February that “the film tackles caste, class, politics and media in an explosive cocktail”.
Comparisons have been drawn to the real-life problem of farmer suicides in rural India, where two out of three of India’s 1.1 billion people still live and work. As many as 150,000 debt-hit farmers have killed themselves in the past decade, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences said last year.
The film is a “savage attack on the media and politicians’ response to farmers’ suicides,” wrote Shedde. But Khan, who does not appear in the film, told a news conference on Thursday: “The film is not about farmer suicides. It is a satirical film…
“When director Anusha Rizvi, who was a journalist, came to me and spoke to me about this subject, I connected with the film immediately because it talks about the divide between urban and rural India.”