Two brothers in a village work hard to survive by farming in India. But don’t have sufficient money to pay their previously owed debts, or to buy new crops or to even buy a good staple meal. While in the frenzy to figure out how to survive, the farmers over hear that the government is ready to pay a sum of one lack to the farmers family for support, if the farmer commits suicide due to his inability to pay his debts.
So the brothers decide that one of them will commit suicide in order to obtain funds from the government. And through various channels this decision of Natha, the youngest brother of the household, to commit suicide reaches the media. And the media hovers all around Natha’s house to cover his suicide live, in order to gain more viewers for each television channel. Finally, the media gets mad when they are unable to locate Natha and concludes that he is missing. And at the end, Natha is claimed to be dead in an accident and the government refuses to pay them the sum promised, whereas Natha quietly escapes his old life and now resides in the city working as a labourer.
This is the story of the nationally acclaimed movie, Peepli Live.
The main story of this movie that is the ‘Farmer suicide’ forms an important part of our course, Development journalism. For quite a long time now farmer suicides has been a grave issue, that the government seems to not have been taking proper care of. To be honest it is not about the farmer suicides, the central issues to be addressed here is about the fact that the government of India is aware that India is an agrarian country and its wealth of the nation lies in agriculture. But the government doesn’t do the needed be to help farmers develop their farming techniques in order to gain a greater produce.
The government has schemes like, ‘if a farmer commits suicide due to his inability to pay back his debts then the government is ready to pay the family a sum of 1 lack or so.’ But in my opinion if the government is willing keep a 1 lack provision for the farmers who commit suicide due to debts, then why not use the same money to educate them and help them better their farming techniques? The government is able to have a tax write off, of the sum of 2,673 cores, then why is our nation unable to help our farmers to get more educated?
Hence, the movie Peepli Live is able to depict the actual realities of the Indian farmers and their grave situation. It also shows how media neglects issues like, -‘why government is doesn’t do enough to help farmers do better agriculture?’ ‘Why the agriculture minister himself is convinced that India should be more industrialised?’ and instead focuses on covering a suicide live!
All in all this movie was an eye opener and a reality check for all of us! Because we as journalist we try to improve the TRP of our organisation by being least sensitive to the issues that should be attended to. We try to sell rather than make stories be heard. We try to mint money more than being able to empathise with the grass roots and their issues, to which no one ever seems to have a solution.
Even if I were to be a journalist who was informed about this issue, I would also initially not heed to it because we all are desensitized about issues like ‘farmer suicide’ ‘infant feticides’ ‘poverty’ ‘corruption’ and many more. We consider it a part and parcel of India. We do talk about it among ourselves but yet we don’t want to make a difference by being the wave of change.
But if we were in an ideal world and this issue came up and I was one of the journalist who was tipped off about this issue. I would camp in front of the parliament or the agricultural ministers’ house, asking the men in charge as to, why are so many farmers killing themselves just to obtain some money to support what is left of there so called family?, I would ask them if industrialization really is the key to development then why do various countries still obtain food resources from us?, I would ask them why is it so difficult for us to educate our fellow countrymen, when in return we can be called a developed nation?….But then again if we were in an ideal world, film makers would not make a film like Peepli Live.