Written by Manisha Lakhe on September 7, 2018
If It Looks Like Shit, And Talks Like Shit…
A little lad called Pichku cannot defecate in the open like everyone else in the slums. He wants privacy which is hard to come by when they live such desperate lives. While grown ups in the slum are trying to scam the government for the money given to build toilets, this little boy with two friends dreams and works hard to save money to build one. An awful tale about shitting told crappily. This is worse than government funded propaganda films…
The song goes on and on about how the lad is the only one with undies in a basti full of naked people… Pichku is that boy who hates the fact that everyone in their slum defecates and showers in the open. When his mum (Paoli Dam, looks the part) and dad (Ranvir Shorey, rough and uncouth rickshaw puller) leave for their day jobs, Pichku comes home, lights incense sticks (to drown out the stink), does the deed on paper, wrapping it in plastic throwing it all out in the drain behind his home. In the name of reality, people are shown defecating on railway tracks, and Pichku’s routine is shown in great detail. You want to say that you get the point, but no. The filmmaker wants to show poverty and what it does to people.
The kids laugh at Pichku because he cannot do it in the open, and his father drags him mid act to the tracks and orders him to finish in front of everyone who gathers to watch.
Pichku meets Gopi doing his business in an abandoned, haunted factory and they become friends because both cannot do it in the open. They find that the factory is not haunted but occupied for the same reason by a medicine man (played by Kumud Mishra). The three decide they need to build a toilet and buy a commode (don’t even ask about plumbing and how just buying a pot will help). They begin to work (the boys work at a recycling dump) and they give money at the shop as payment towards a commode.
The government runs a scheme for the poor to build toilets and give money for the same. But the grown ups as well as the government official pocket that money and continue their set routines. Pichku’s father pockets the money but an honest officer shows up and begins to round up everyone. Then there’s a shameless plug of a school run by a charitable foundation who are producing the film. It’s like watching the promotional video of this international school embedded in the film.The kids build a toilet by the stinky drain that saves the day. Don’t ask. This film stinks. Literally and figuratively.
(this review appears on www.nowrunning.com)