A story of toil and sweat for toilets

A story of toil and sweat for toilets

Sharp and real; Focuses on a social issue that needs urgent attention

A still from Mere Pyare Prime Minister


Movie: Mere Pyare Prime Minister
Hindi (U/A)
Read more at: https://www.deccanherald.com/national/a-hesitant-lens-723400.html
Director- Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Om Kanojiya, Anjali Patil, Niteesh Wadhwa, Syna Anand, Adarsh Bharti, Prasad, Makrand Deshpande, Atul Kulkarni
Rating- 3/5

The first-day-first-show of Mere Pyare Prime Minister was a quiet affair. An Audi all to myself, I sat down to watch a film by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the maker of one of the nations' favourites- Rang De Basanti. I was to find out if Mere Pyare Prime Minister would again make the country to resonate with 'Khoon Chala' and goosebump-inducing patriotic moments, the way his earlier films did!

As the trailer of the film suggests, it addresses social issues that plague our country- poverty, open defecation and over-population. Revolving around a determined child Kannu (Om Kanojiya) and his mother Sargam (Anjali Patil), Mere Pyare Prime Minister transports you into the filthy streets of a Mumbai Slum- Gandhinagar- where the residents either defecate on pipes or the train tracks. Mehra neither romanticises the poverty-in-your face nor does he make it look preachy. It is their everyday business, and we are shown it as such!

But the routine is marred when Sargam is raped in a desolated place while she is heading home from the rail tracks even before the daybreak (the time of the day when women choose to defecate). Her neighbours are supportive and the film treats it in a mature way. There is no 'Daag-in-aanchal' or 'meri izzat lut gayi!' chatter. The cause of the problem is picked (as Rasika Agashe's character screams it - 'they won't let us relieve ourselves in peace') and begins Kannu's struggle to get a toilet for his now terrified mother. The moments between the child and the mother will touch your heart (especially the scene where Kannu confesses that he can do anything for his mother and the one where he asks the God to ask for her forgiveness)

Kannu does travel a great distance for his mother- Delhi to be precise. He writes a letter to his 'Pyare Prime Minister' explaining why his 'basti' needs a toilet and now, he wants to hand it to the PM personally. Funny quips from his friends- Ringtone and Nirala- help to add the comic relief to his Delhi visit and the otherwise serious film. 

Pyare Prime Minister will make you question-where are all the toilets that the government promised? But then, it also shows us the power of a letter to the Prime Minister. At a time when films are freely mixed with politics, Mehra seems to have chosen to walk a tight rope.

But is it goosebump enduring? Not really! But it will make you feel for the state of sanitation in our country. Like in the instance when the kids bring out the stark difference between the flats with a few homes and hundreds of toilets and their 'basti' with hundreds of people and no toilets. All of it stands out because the entire cast- elders and kids- have delivered an amazing performance! Look out for Ringtone's quips, which were music to my ears 

Pyare Prime Minister is a well-made, zero drama, high reality film. With its slow moments, but no major star cast (unlike the commercial 'Akshay Kumar starer 'Toilet'), a slow opening is expected. But the quality of the film warranties a one-time-watch! Because 'You must go when you must go!'