Streaming now on Zee5
“A Dalit’s merit is always questioned in India.” Casteism is a bitter pill that’s still being spoon-fed to us at a very early age. We have come to accept that lower classes are only suited to certain roles in society and that the road to success for them is paved with so many obstacles that it’s impossible to reach the destination. And yet, we often hear about “class toppers” and “rank holders” that come from humble backgrounds that only make for good news, while higher opportunities are still denied to them. In the light of the New Education Policy, Prakash Jha’s Pareeksha: The Final Test focusses on the struggles of a brilliant student Bulbul Kumar (Shubham) who is attempting to settle into a CBSE school. Having earlier studied in a government school, Bulbul is struggling to fit into his new surroundings while his father Bucchi (Adil Hussain) and mother (Priyanka Bose) burn the candle at both ends to give him a good education. Bucchi drives a rickshaw cycle and has big dreams for his son. But in an unfair system, even dreams come at a price and he must resort to illegal means if he wishes his son to succeed.
Reveals the dark and despicable side to society
A film about class struggle is likely to be laced with several depictions of everyday injustice. Pareeksha aces in this regard and while a few scenes may seem exaggerated, they’re not far from the truth. Casual casteism and ‘otherism’ is common across the country and it has been portrayed honestly throughout the film. To succeed in life, Bulbul must work doubly hard and his efforts are monitored with great suspicion as several characters in the film ask the same question – how can the son of a rickshaw puller top his class? Yet, the boy is unwavering in his determination even if his father’s sins come to haunt him later.
Adil Hussain is a class apart
It comes as no big surprise that Adil Hussain has been overlooked in Bollywood. He is not a talent to be wasted on commercial masala films but delivers starkly honest performances in every role. Rich or poor, young or old, hero or villain – he can play them all with complete conviction. Even in Pareeksha, the actor gives a brilliant performance that stays with you throughout. You cannot help but feel sorry for his plight and even understand why he chose the path that he did. While he’s the star of the film, Priyanka Bose delivers an equally magnificent performance. Her role is not reduced to a wife or mother, but the actress holds up on her own. She cannot be talked down to but has an equal say in the matters of her household. They’re partners in the real sense, which we couldn’t help but notice was not shown in the case of many upper-class families. Maybe this was another deliberate attempt on the part of the writer and paid off beautifully.
Sanjay Suri for the win!
The actor appears in a limited role where he wins the hearts of every viewer. His character is inspired by the story of IPS officer Abhayanand who teaches and coaches kids from poor backgrounds in villages. As a senior police inspector, Suri’s character is investigating the Bucchi’s case when he comes across Bulbul and other kids in his neighborhood studying diligently. Impressed by their dedication to studies, he begins to coach them in his free time, inviting the envy and ire of several upper-class families who feel that his students are getting preferential treatment for free. Like we mentioned earlier, this film is not far from what we see in real life.
WATCH OR NOT:
Pareeksha is a must-watch for urban and upper-class students who fail to recognize their privilege in society. In fact, it should be made available to many towns and villages across the country, so people can see an honest portrayal of the causal injustice that we fail to leave behind us. It teaches us that injustice but not simply be tolerated but actively thwarted. Be warned, this film is a tear-jerker but art was always meant to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
Director: Prakash Jha
Writer: Prakash Jha
Cast: Adil Hussain, Priyanka Bose, Shubham, Sanjay Suri
Streaming on: Zee5