Tepid Take
   Date :16-Mar-2019




By Aasawari Shenolikar

Toilet is once again the focal point of a movie. This time, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra picks up the cudgels and links women’s safety with the need for toilets. With 50% of the rapes happening when women go out to relieve themselves in the open making them an easy prey, Mehra’s intention are great. With the promotion of Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan and ODF villages and towns, Mehra plays along these lines too in a very subtle manner. While tackling a subject that is a taboo, but has been the focus of quite a few films recently, Mehra through Mere Pyare Prime Minister does manage to raise a stink. How much of this will hit home, well we can wait and watch how much power the cinema has.

Kannu (Om Kanojiya), the eight year old is a happy go lucky kid, who if not helping Pappu (Nitesh Wadhwa) sell newspapers and magazines, does a lot of matar gashti with friends Nirala and Ringtone. His small world also includes mother Sargam (Anjali Patil), and the duo share a fantastic bond. Kannu’s world becomes topsy turvy when his mother, who goes out alone to complete her ablutions, is raped. The little boy is unable to understand the gravity of the situation, but he knows something drastic has happened and it happened because of lack of toilets in the basti. His quest, along with his friends, begins. And this takes them to Delhi, home of the Prime Minister, where Kannu is successful in handing over a letter written by him to the concerned authorities. But does the boy’s dream of having a toilet in his backyard come true or does his letter gets buried in the thousands of documents piled up in the PMO?

Mehra’s objective of bringing into limelight a vital burning issue is noble. And he does weave a heartwarming tale that boasts of natural performances by almost everyone and is realistic to the core. But he takes a very long time in putting this across. Thus the viewer’s attention meanders, and what could have have been a strong point of concern, loses fizz. The pace is sluggish and Mehra takes his own sweet time coming to the focal point. The feeling of ‘been there, done that’ persists because a story around a slum is bound to have comparisons. And we see the ubiquitous skyscrapers and then the camera panning to the slums. Throw in water scarcity, the illegal water mafia, kids peddling drugs instead of attending school, and selling condoms mouthing use karna, bade logon ke liye hai and the scenario of a deprived community is complete. There are a few stomach churning scenes, a few scenes that hit the emotional chord, but nothing that hasn’t been attempted before. In the end, in a movie dealing with a socially relevant subject, should leave one with a feeling of triumph - of having attained something. MPPM, unfortunately, lacks that punch. It appears the characters are simpler going through the motions.

The highlight of the film is the strong connection between Kannu and Sargam, the subtle relationship that grows between Pappu and Sargam, the connect between the kids and the bonhomie between neighbours. Anjali Patil is stellar, as are the free spirited kids who are a riot to watch and hear in a few scenes. By making it over simplistic -the Delhi track is way too simple, Mehra has diluted the content, in the process MPPM is neither compelling nor fully entertaining.

The Hitavada Rating: OO