I still remember the rickshaw rides to my school Don Bosco two decades ago. Funtoosh was the name of the puller and he always took good care of me. Short in height, he often happily took away my old clothes. We often committed petty crimes, like stealing mangoes, went fishing in the nearby pond, flew kites on Vishwakarma Puja and even swam in the Ganges together.
The memories are vivid.
One such rickshaw wallah, Buchchi Paswan (Adil Hussain), in Ranchi is friendly with the kids he rides regularly to school, speaks broken English and sings Baa, baa black sheep…went up the hill! But apart from this, the man dreams of a secured future for his son, who is in ninth standard at a government school and brilliant in his studies, by getting him admission in Sapphire International — a CBSE school which has produced many big names in the industry.
Pareeksha– based on a true story, this shows how circumstances made a good and kindhearted man dream big and commit petty crimes to fulfill his dreams for his child.
This is what we get to see in the film but what we did not is that Buchchi’s story is close to Shambu Mahato’s from the 1953 classic Do Bigha Zamin by Bimal Roy. Perhaps, Buchchi in his young days did watch this film!
Well, there are many differences in the storyline you may talk about here — especially the hand-pulled one and the “Pa-reeksha” — but somewhere circumstances forced both to take up a job that they were not meant for.
Director Prakash Jha’s knowledge about an undivided Bihar and how government schools fail to deliver, while private players bring out the best is not portrayed well. The screenplay does have a good intent but it required in-depth portrayal of the system. Somehow, I felt it was a shallow effort and not presented well; may be, a hurried approach to reach to the conclusion.
Something good about the movie is how director Jha portrayed the guilt factor playing in Buchchi who joins others in singing at a local temple just to wash his hands off the crime he committed a while ago. Good presentation. But that’s it.
We perhaps already knew or guessed the story as it began and where it would end. Sorry, but that’s not story-telling. Mr Jha, you have given the industry much better movies in the past.
If good acting can save a movie, Adil Hussain does a Balraj Sahni. From his body language to accent to dialogue delivery, and in his silence, this gem did everything with his unmatched expressions. Love you Mr Hussain, you know what it takes to get into a character, feel it and deliver.
On par with the excellence already at one end from this seasoned actor, Priyanka Bose, who plays the role of Adil Hussain’s wife, not only fitted herself in the character but showed she is no less than the lead. Sanjay Suri has a small role and delivers with his calm and focused attitude.
I have nothing more to say about this movie as I couldn’t find any.
This is perhaps not one of those Jha movies we still remember or would want to.
P.S: Well, okay, wait, one huge round of applause for the team which worked on the costumes. I perhaps could even smell the sweat from the sweater, shirt and the gamchha that Adil wore.