Recently-released film ‘Peepli Live’ is not just a scathing satire on a serious subject like farmers’ suicide, but has also shown what actually goes on in the news rooms of Indian channels and also throws light on the marked divide and snobbery that exists in the English media for vernacular media. The film doesn’t spare politicians and the bureaucracy either.
The film revolves around the main protagonist Natha, a poor, debt-ridden farmer in one of those nameless, dusty villages of India, and his decision to commit suicide so that his family can avail of the Rs 1 lakh compensation from the government. All hell breaks loose on the sleepy Peepli village as the media, politicians and the bureaucracy swoop down to gain maximum mileage and makes a circus out of a serious situation.
The film is particularly unforgiving of the Indian media that is shown as a pack of vultures in the race for ‘breaking news’. exchange4media speaks to some media professionals to find out what they feel about the film and whether the media has been shown in a true light or is it an exaggeration.
Vinod Kapri, Managing Editor, India TV, said, “I think it is a nice film. I think the director and producer have successfully put together a nice film. It is a satire on politics, politicians, the media and our system. What they have shown in the film, to some extent it is true. Media also needs to introspect. Since it was a film, they have used some imagination as well.”
Kapri believed that things had changed for the better with content regulation for news channels. He added, “The effort for regulated content has been successful after the formation of the Broadcast Editors Association, where we unanimously decide to air or not to air a story, depending on the sensitivity of the subject. Now, the content on news channels is surely improving.”
Sameer Kapur, CEO, NDTV India, too, felt that the film depicted reality. He said, “I think there are small elements of exaggeration, but most Hindi channels are going that way. If you see most of the Hindi channels, they tend to resort to such tactics to get TRPs, where no news is made out to be news. Except for NDTV India, which is the only serious Hindi news channel in India all other channels are going down that way.”
The editors agreed that what was depicted in the film was a harsh reality to some extent. exchange4media spoke to some media planners as well on what they thought about the film.
According to PM Balakrishna, Vice President, Allied Media, “The film is a nice critique on how the media operates. What is news and what is sensationalism, news channels have lost their way a little bit and the film is a parody on that. What the situation in the villages is in reality and how it is made out to be in the media. Eyeballs and TVRs are all that matter to news channels. News channels do not bring justice to the real issue. The intent is to make news out of it rather than actually being a medium to open the eyes of the masses. The film is a very focused critique on news. It doesn’t spare the rest of the people either, be it politicians or the bureaucracy. It is not a comedy, it is not a sarcastic comedy. It is touching people and is an eye opener for the people who watch news channels on how the media operates. It is a hard critique on news and the media.”
Dinesh Rathore, GM, MediaVest, added here, “They have created ‘Peepli Live’ based on reality, and news channels do actually behave like that. They sensationalise every small aspect of news and miss the bigger plot.”
A few months back Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Rann’ had also attempted to bring a real life picture of what goes on behind the small screen in the news rooms. However, it is ‘Peepli Live’ that has managed to touch a chord with the masses and classes alike. May we get to see more such movies in the times ahead.