Synopsis by Mark Deming
A simple man learns he might be better off dead, at least financially, in this satiric comedy from Indian filmmaker Anusha Rizvi. Natha (Omkar Das Manikpuri) and Budhia (Raghubir Yadav) are two brothers who run a family farm in Peepli, a small town in India. Business has been bad on the farm, and the brothers are unable to repay a government loan, with a default judgment due any day. When the brothers call on a local politician to ask if anything can be done while they wait for a judge's ruling on their case, he facetiously suggests that one of them could commit suicide, since the government would pay benefits to the surviving family members. Natha doesn't realize the official is joking and volunteers to kill himself, while a television reporter overhears the conversation and immediately puts the story on the air. Soon a handful of newsmen have shown up at Natha's house, waiting to find out if the farmer will indeed kill himself, and before long it seems as if most of the nation is watching, with everyone sharing their opinions on Natha and his dilemma. The story is a boon to the news media but bad for the local politicians, who are standing for re-election that day as folks stay away from the polls to follow Natha's story. As everyone from Natha's son to the proverbial man on the street weighs in on what he should do, the farmer wonders if suicide really is the last, best way he can help his loved ones. Peepli Live received its North American premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
farmer, loan, media, scheme, small-town, suicide