Having watched the intense trailer for Vinod Kari's Pihu, many people have said they don't have the nerve to go and watch a film about a two-year-old girl all alone at home, as her mother lies dead on the bed. But, it's an important story: Pihu is based on a true-life incident in Delhi in 2014, and Kapri told The National yesterday that the dire event is all too common.
After the trailer, one thing is for sure: you will either be curious or you will think, 'there's no way I can bear watching the full movie'. (The film, with its low budget heart and intensely captivating plot, could not be more different from last week's big release, Thugs of Hindostan). So, without spoiling the suspense or the plot, we answer the should-we, should-we-not watch question:
Thought one: I simply don't feel like going...
That would be sad, especially because it's a unique effort, with the only actor in the film two-year-old Myra 'Pihu' Vishwakarma. When she is not tugging at your heartstrings with her cuteness overload, she has viewers invested in a disaster waiting to happen - it's a star performance for such a young actor.
Thought two: how can a two-year-old sustain my interest for 85 minutes?
Bottom line. The film is thrilling and well made, it doesn't matter what age the protagonist is.
The opportunity to see the day through a child's eyes is a unique cinematic moment. We, as viewers, know she's potentially in trouble, but her toddler attitude adds a lightness of being to the whole movie that is quite unlike anything else.
Thought three: the trailer must be a ploy - she is at home, what could go wrong?
Remember, every home has appliances, and there are also wires, glass, medicines, household cleaning detergents, insects ... every step a child takes can be fraught with danger, even at home.
If you don't realise the enormity of the situation of a two-year-old being at home alone, indefinitely, that's another reason to watch. And Kapri and his three editors have painstakingly sifted through 64 hours of footage to get that point across nicely. It could have been a short film, but the director thought it was a serious issue that needed time and reflection.
Thought four: I would like to go, but I don't want to see such a negative story
Unfortunately, life is not all rosy. Indeed, this is Bollywood's version of Home Alone, but minus the goofs and laughs, and with a lot more genuine tension. Having said that, the narrative is littered with scenes of hope as well as important messages for parents, neighbours, security guards and people in general.
Anything else we should mention?
The movie has received many accolades at film festivals around the world. It is an applicant for a Guinness record as the only movie ever with a two-year-old as the sole actor. Besides, adults also need to realise how their actions can prove traumatic for innocent children: and this movie really drums that in.
What's the final verdict?
I'm not one to be lenient to films, but I will say it - this movie is a must-watch. Kapri's camera crew has done a good job; a tip of the hat must especially go to the person who thought of placing the camera inside the microwave in a scene in which Pihu tries to heat up bread.
The movie is singular. And tense. And moving. In other words, it's special.
Why is Salman Khan, despite all of his bad behaviour, still the king of Bollywood?
Why 5 Weddings director is upset with Rajkummar Rao: 'I have never seen an actor behave like he did'