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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Pareeksha Movie Review: Adil Hussain Delivers An A-Grade Performance

Adil Hussain, the award-winning Indian actor stars in the highly-anticipated movie, Pareeksha, which streams on ZEE5.

The Prakash Jha directorial is a story of hope and determination highlighting some of the gaping social inequalities facing many low-income families in the developing world.

Buchhi (played by Adil), a rickshaw puller dreams of his son Bulbul (Shubham Jha) getting a private education but this desire sends him on a dangerous path that could damage all that he has built.

Jha, who has been a pioneer in making films which address problematic systems and deep-rooted issues.

After briefly tackling the issues within the education system in Aarakshan, this takes a closer insight into India’s class divide and how that impacts education.

Initially, one felt sceptical due to the apprehension of it being preachy, gloomy and making bold political statements, thankfully this is not the case. 

It has the heart and soul in the right place, with the right intentions.

Whilst it highlights problems with cast disparity and it’s influence on the education system, the movie coms quite timely as it’s only recently the New Education Policy (NEP 2020) was approved by the Cabinet.

This subject in-turn is not really extraordinary or new per se. We’ve seen movies like Hindi Medium which have also encompassed a similar theme.

However, what sets Pareeksha apart is realism. From the settings to the characters, Jha ensures that he presents this story as authentically as possible.

Enhancing this endeavour is the character portrayals. Adil Hussain, who is a critically-acclaimed actor and dare I say  has given his best performance.  

Playing the Bihari rickshaw puller, Hussain totally immerses himself into the character. Be it the humble body language or accent. 

We get to see several shades of the character ranging from his warm personality towards the children, sincere personality or his desperation of making ends meet. In each aspect, Adil nails it.

Moments where he weeps and begs for his child’s betterment also strikes a strong chord with the audience.

It’s an honour and a treat to watch Adil display his magnificent craft as an actor… He is the glue that keeps this film together. 

Priyanka Bose is another fantastic talent and her command of a Bihari mother who also works hard to make ends meet is great.

It’s refreshing to know that her character isn’t just limited to being a ‘dutiful’ homemaker and is equally a formidable force.

The character of Bulbul is maturely written as he is shown to be a sensitive and mature child. Be it his frustrations, dreams and talent as a bookworm, Shubham Jha essays this seamlessly. 

A scene where Bulbul tasks about his worth and sincerity towards education in front of the educational board is a fantastic moment.

Sanjay Suri who is seen briefly in the second-half playing SP Kailash Anand and does good, though one would’ve liked to see more.

It is said that Suri’s character is based on IPS officer Abhayanand, who teaches kids in a village in Bihar affected by the Naxalism to help them clear the IIT-JEE exams. 

Since the film as a whole attempt to address the issues with the education system, his role (which contributes hugely to the educational system) seems to be very short. 

Had the character of Kailash weaved into the narrative earlier, showing us his on-going endeavours to educate those in need, perhaps this would’ve made a more wholesome watch.

Pareeksha is a humble movie and whilst there are a few technical glitches (i.e. rough editing and transitioning), it is a good attempt at showing a compelling narrative.

Prakash Jha has the knack of earthy storytelling with burning societal and systematic topics. Yet again, he champions this… Though the movie is no masterpiece.

Adil Hussain is the primary reason why the film works as he delivers an outstanding performance leaving us to ponder over his character. Watch it for his mastery as an actor.

Although the film showcases the immense suffering of those with financial difficulties and their endeavours for a better life, one hopes that the NEP 2020 will change the dynamics for the better!

Pareeksha streams on ZEE5

⭐⭐⭐ (3/5 stars)

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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