There is a scene in Peepli Live. The entire media has descended upon Natha’s house. Politicians and government officials make frequent visits, each offering things other than what Natha’s family needs most. At one particular time, the entire family comes out and regards the scene in front of them. There’s a quizzical look on each character as they look over their courtyard. In that single frame, the entire movie turns over itself and asks you to consider the world as seen through the family’s eyes as opposed to Natha’s family, as seen through the world’s eyes.
Peepli Live manages to make an inanimate character, called the Lal Bahadur come to life and manages to make all of Natha’s life a marketable commodity. The makers shrewdly sold itself as a satire when in fact, it may very well have been a well researched, remarkably executed documentary (the jokes too I believe are probably not too far from the truth). The movie even manages to stay away from both clichéd endings; in the end Natha is neither dead nor alive. There are two crucial deaths, written in to make a rather somber point, and they too are pulled off cleverly that you cannot completely explain it as karma, poetic justice or oh-that-awful-life. Shit happens, as they say (and describe in great detail). Natha’s own family members aren’t beyond manipulation or selfishness. Why then, must we expect anyone else to be ?
Peepli live is a daring take on India’s cold, hard brutal democracy and way of life. There was no happy ending. Yet it makes you laugh. Slumdog Millionaire was a stylized version of dreams coming true magically, even when you’re from cold, hard, democratic India. There was a happy ending and yet it made you cry.
When you're done laughing, it does make you wonder.