Director: Vinod Kapri
Cast: Myra Viswakarma
Not all films are made to entertain. Some are meant simply to educate, and nothing else. Educate us about things that need to be discussed. Things that we need to be cautious about. Director Vinod Kapri’s Pihu is one such film.
Honestly, it is not easy to review a movie like Pihu. On one hand, there is no denial that it is not the kind of film that would entertain (or engage beyond a point). The theme is such that you’d wonder if making a documentary had been a better idea than a 93-minute long feature film. Yet, on the other hand, it is an important story with an important message, that I feel we need to watch, irrespective of entertainment quotient (or the lack of it).
Pihu starts off with animations and voices running in the background. A birthday party is going on. We can hear kids running around, parents chatting away. Our protagonist has turned 2, and the celebration is on account of that. Then comes the first scene, where Pihu wakes up the next day.
Now, what does a toddler do first thing in the morning when she wakes up? Yes, she looks for her Mummy. Little Pihu is no different. Except, that her Mummy is right there, next to her in the bed. Dead.
Oblivious, Pihu nudges her mother. Unbothered by lack of response, she climbs off the bed, goes out to the living space and calls out to her Papa. There is no one else in the house. It is revealed through a phone call later that her father has left for Kolkata early in the morning for an office tour. She comes back to the bedroom, and nudges her mother again. Of course, there is no response.
Pihu, little as she is, is completely unaware of the danger she is in or the tragedy that has befallen her. She goes trotting around the house on her little feet, searching for food, going to the washroom, playing with her toys, then back to nudging her mother, then playing with toys again, and so on. It is here we understand, that sometimes, simple, everyday objects like a floor-cleaner can be disastrous and murderous, if left to the whims of a lonely, helpless child. Open wires, microwave, gas stove, hot iron and many such obstacles lay around Pihu threatening to claim her life at any moment. Some scenes like the one where she almost dangles from the balcony railing or the one where she chews her Mummy’s sleeping pills, complaining to her (dead) mother in her tweety-like tone, “Ka(r)wa…Ka(r)wa hain” (They taste bitter) would leave you anxious.
The film raises some important questions: Are all people with kids fit to be parents? Do parents realize how their own attitude and mistakes impact the lives of their children? Note how Pihu’s father abuses his wife and bashes entire womankind for his misery on call, but the next moment cooes “Oh my little girl, my baby Pihu“, when he realizes that the female on the other side of the phone is not the wife he hates, but his own bloodline, his darling little daughter. Then comes the mother, who despite knowing that her husband won’t be back home before 2 days, chooses to gulp down sleeping pills, leaving her little baby alone and helpless in a big house to her own devices.
Pihu is not without its flaws. There’s not much plot in the film as such. As a result, after a point, things become monotonous. In parts, one might even say the movie is “exploitative”, as it tries to nudge our emotions by making a little cutiepie get into somewhat contrived, life-threatening situations. Another major technical flaw in the film is how every time her mother’s phone rings, Pihu manages to expertly put it on speaker for the audience to hear the person on the other side.
But overall, it is a decent film. Kudos to the director for the subject. They say, it is based on a real life incident. Kudos to the man behind the camera (watch out for the scene where we get a view of Pihu from the rotating disc inside a microwave). But most of all, kudos to the little girl playing the lead, Pihu Myra Viswakarma. She is as cute as a little baby girl could be, and her voice would make you go aww. The movie belongs to her completely, and it is she who holds your attention from the beginning till the end with her absolute flawless performance.
Movie-goers who prefer plot-heavy or dramatic films are less likely to rave about Pihu. Yet, despite the monotonous nature, I’ll give it 3 out of 5 stars for the message. And for wonderful little Myra.