Director Prakash Jha makes a very valid point by means of heartfelt emotions being practical in approach
Pareeksha is a film built of moments. There is a time when the entire basti celebrates as the child is about to go to an elite school; or when the child is asked to sit on the floor of the rickshaw only because it is out of his aukaat to take a seat; or when the father breaks down before the police superintendent- are gems that the film comprises of. Raising a very pertinent point, the most important quality of the film is that it doesn’t get preachy. What it does rather is tell you to be a little more accommodating.
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Buchchi Paswan (Adil Hussain), a poor cycle rickshaw puller aspires to give his son Bulbul (Shubham Jha) the best possible education. In sync with a little more rationality is his wife Radhika (Priyanka Bose), a worker in steel utensils factory. Bulbul is brilliant in academics, but what pulls him down is absence of lustre- in all walks of life.
Written by Jha himself, the story is straight and simple. What does the wonders is the screenplay that proceeds in layers. You’ve seen stories of struggles of parents for their kids’ education, the most recent being Angrezi Medium. What takes the cake here is the genuineness of the entire narrative. Nothing seems forced or dramatic. Nothing seems impossible. Ofcourse, the story seems too idealistic at some points, but even that can be sidelined given the fact that it is inspired by real events relating to IPS officer Abhayanand.
The film is well intentioned, well positioned, and well made. At first glance, it looks a simple tale of what a father can do for his son’s education. Initially, the makers talk about his aspiration. It is however interesting to see how this aspiration turns into obsession. Resorting to unfair means to earn money to make the ends meet and be able to be at par with the finances of a posh school is what forms the major part of the drama.
The film is a comment on a lot of things collectively. The divide between rich and poor being the evident one, the film progresses to draw a stark contrast between the government schools and those run privately. Also, there is a comparison made between state boards and the CBSE. What the film also shows is the human nature- varied in its purest form where you have both good and bad coexisting. How some private schools also exploit the needy in the name of extra expenditure is also taken a note of in the narrative.
With hardly a dull point in the film, the film makes ample references to the socio-economic background of the characters involved. The way certain people behave in certain situations is very much relatable because it’s real. What also should be noted is that the film uses education as a way of conveying larger notions- of acceptability and tolerance towards people of other strata. The mental turmoil, the guilt after committing a mistake, and how to do good despite the odds, the politics playing its dirty role in almost everything has all been shown nicely.
Adil Hussain is a winner. You can never expect anything less than brilliance from him, and he never disappoints. As a rickshaw puller father, he is so dedicated that the pain of not being able to do good for his kid shows in his body language and on his face all throughout the film. Never in a scene does he go overboard. Even with a great personality, he makes you believe he is that humbly poor rickshaw puller, helpless in his life. You also dislike him for his obsession, which he portrays subtly. He is simply amazing.
Shubham Jha also makes for a delightful watch. His nervousness while he walks or his confidence while he gives answers are both perfectly portrayed. He suits tremendously well to the role.
Priyanka Bose has proved her worth even internationally. She does a great job as a supportive wife and doting mother. Ready to give it all, she has a tough task as an actor, as she has to remain practical yet very much giving.
Sanjay Suri in a brief appearance makes a mark with his compassionate approach. Whenever he comes on screen, you have a smile, as he is a character who won’t do wrong. You idolize the character and appreciate hoe Suri warmly plays the role.
Seema Singh as the principal also has a warm appeal to her, doing great wonders for the narrative.
Music by Advait Nemlekar is okay, nothing great. You do feel the need for a few numbers to strikingly lift the plot up. The background score however is beautifully placed. It does the needful in the absolutely correct manner, making you invest deeply.
Cinematography by Sachin Krishn is sometimes too bright. Otherwise it is good. Reasonably satisfactory. The production design by Udai Prakash Singh is intelligent, making the sets look real.
Editing by Santosh Mandal has been done sharply. The arrangement of sequences has been done with thought. The manner in which one thing leads to another is well planned, which also should be given to well structured writing.
This is a film that teaches you and instructs you without going overboard. This must be watched for its good intention, very good making and great performances.