Hazari Pal lives in a small village in Bihar, India, with his dad, mom, wife, Kamla, daughter, Amrita, and two sons, Shambhu and Manooj. As the Pal are unable to repay the loan they had ... See full summary »
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Hazari Pal lives in a small village in Bihar, India, with his dad, mom, wife, Kamla, daughter, Amrita, and two sons, Shambhu and Manooj. As the Pal are unable to repay the loan they had taken years ago from a moneylender, their land and property are auctioned, and they are rendered homeless. Hazari and his family re-locate to Calcutta with hopes of starting life anew, save some money and go back to Bihar, as well as get Amrita married. Things do not go as planned, as they lose their entire savings to a con-man, Gangooly, who took their money as rent by pretending to be a landlord. Then Hazari gets an opportunity to take up driving a rickshaw manually through a local godfather, Ghatak. He gets to meet a American, Dr. Max Lowe, and together they strike up a friendship along with a local social worker, Joan Bethel. Misunderstandings crop up between Joan and the Godfather, resulting in the shutting down of their shanty medical clinic. When Hazari sides with Joan, his rickshaw is taken ... Written by
The movie is not bad. It is based on the book by the same name by Dominique Lapierre, and if my understanding is right has the author's blessings. The characters even have similar if not same names but it is not the same story. However it is true to the spirit in which the book was written.
Another interesting comparison with the book is that just like the movie, the book is as controversial, especially in India and among middle class Indians and Indians abroad. Indians do not like to speak about their slums to foreigners and do not like foreigners to speak about them by themselves. Rich and middle-class Indians who make about one-fourth of the country are the most influential people in the country and make the interlocutors with the Western world. I know because I am one of them. If our country is our home, this is a skeleton in our closet. And because there is a skeleton in our closet, we try not to step into it and do not let other and hate those who do step in when we are not looking. The controversy is an indication that lot stuff in the movie is actually worth seeing.
Also it is not unusual for a poor man in India to choose to die with dignity than live in shame, Indian girls do flirt even if it is 'untraditional' and there are people who try to live by exploiting the poor, people who most others will call cruel.
The movie could have done a better job capturing the fact that western ideas can affect the way some people in India behave just as Indian ideas make some westerners reformulate their ideas and concepts about life. We can see it here, but this is better captured in the book
So those who do not like the movie try to read the book and those who liked the movie will definitely enjoy the book. As for me, stories of the resilience of Indian slum dwellers only make me more proud to be an Indian.
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