India’s official entry for the race to the Oscars. What are the first two thoughts that enter your mind when you think of movies from India? Well, either it is a BOLLYWOOD bonanza or a documentary depicting the dire straits of the poor in India. Either the images of festivities, exotic international locales, gorgeous long lustered gamine-esque lasses dancing around trees, men with bodies sculpted as if Michelangelo himself decided to sculpt David II pop into your head, OR you see the images of a poor, hungry, emaciated woman who sells herself such that her family can eat two square meals. Yes, extremes are shown in films from the sub-continent of India.
Well, brace yourself—this movie is neither. Yes, it has a dose of stark reality depicting the very bleak, basic, glamour-free rural India. Yes, it portrays the plight of the back-bone of India, THE FARMERS. Yes, it shows the wickedness of the politicians and the exploitation by the media of these naïve farmers.
But the film is also interwoven with intelligent and realistic humor. The humor is peppered throughout the film from the extremely salty expletives used by the 90 year old crippled mother to the almost nonchalant attitude of the farmer who is on the hook to commit suicide in a mere 72 hours. From the perfectly formulated British English of the aggressive TV correspondent to the various political angles of the politicians. At times it reaches such absurdism that one is compelled to guffaw out aloud.
The basic plot is that farmers are on the brink of losing their only ancestral asset to the government due to an unpaid loan. The government has a program that if a debtor commits suicide, the loan is waived to help the surviving members of the family. A poor unsuspecting farmer becomes a pawn between the media and the various levels of the corrupt government.
It is a movie about hope and moving on. It truly depicts the resilient spirit of rural India. It portrays the essence of a true Indian; no matter how difficult the circumstances, one can find the courage to move on. A lesson to be learnt for those of us who rely on Prozac to deal with the “not so dire straits” in life.
P.S. The cherry on the cake is the excellent music by the band named Indian Ocean.