'Poorna': Simply elevating (Review By Troy Ribeiro;
Inspired by a true story, "Poorna" is a moving tale of an ordinary tribal girl Poorna Malavath from Telangana, who braves all odds and her family's impoverished background to become the youngest girl to scale the Mount Everest. The plot is used as an apt metaphor about girl's scaling heights, if given a chance and displaying their mettle.
Poorna (Aditi Inamdar) along with her cousin sister Priya (S Mariya), who she loves dearly and looks upto, yearns to be educated and nurtures big dreams. She is lucky to be noticed and mentored by a sincere IPS officer Praveen Kumar (Rahul Bose) who voluntarily takes up a post in the social welfare department and champions the cause of the underdogs. How with her grit and determination, she undergoes training and climbs the Mount Everest, as a tribute to her sister, forms the crux of this film.
Director Rahul Bose adeptly wields the directorial baton after a long hiatus, as well as essays his role of a sincere government servant with aplomb, albeit in a slightly far-fetched character. The taut screenplay keeps you glued to your seat as you become a part of the struggle and dreams of the two sisters - Poorna and Priya, and laud the efforts of the latter in encouraging Poorna to study and realise her dreams, while she herself is married off at a tender age.
Well-made, the film captures the poverty of the girls, their dreams and later, Poorna's perseverance, with panache and fills you with pride and admiration for her feat. Yet, there are some areas in the film where the director has indulged in cinematic liberty and thus, seem like a deliberate attempt at rounding off all the jagged edges.
The music by Salim-Sulaiman is brilliant and encapsulates the mood of the film. The soulful "Poori kayaanat" tugs at your heart strings, while "Kuch parbat hilayen" is inspirational.
Aditi Inamdar shines as the fragile but strong-willed Poorna, essaying her character with amazing sincerity and naturalness, making it look convincing. S Mariya as Priya is equally delightful and strikes an emotional bond with the audience. The duo and their camaraderie is a treat to watch.
Rahul Bose as Praveen Kumar is earnest and effortless. Heeba Shah as an official in a no-nonsense and stern avatar and Dhritiman Chatterjee in an insignificant role, are wasted. Arif Zakaria too goes unnoticed. The other actors in fact support them ably and are aptly cast as they lend a natural flavour to their characters.
The highlight of the film is easily the cinematography by Subhransu Das whose lens captures the penury of Poorna's home and surroundings in Telangana, as well as the glorious snow-capped mountains with equal candour.
The film is a sincere attempt at recreating Poorna Malavath's historic feat and conveying the message of empowering the girl child.
'Poorna': Thank you for giving us a purpose (Review
By Subhash K. Jha ; Rating: ****)
At one crucial point in the telling of this simple and heart-warming tale of a tribal girl's climb from the pits of poverty to Himalayan heights, Rahul Bose, playing an upright bureaucrat, asks the little Andhra girl what is her purpose for climbing Everest.
"I have no purpose. I just want to do it," she tells her mentor honestly.
The simple confessional articulation exemplifies this film's mood. So rich in its message, so far-flung in its intentions and purpose and yet so intimate in treatment and execution, Rahul Bose wins you over with his honesty of purpose.
There are no duplicitous bones in the structure of this film.
Sure, there are passages in this motivational tale that follow the rags-to-riches trajectory with textbookish precision. But the heart is unweariedly in the right place, bringing to the narrative a kind of non-negotiable integrity that is at once compelling and winsome.
Authenticity is the key to the cogency of Bose's vision. He chooses actors and locations as true to the original milieu as cinematically possible. The rest just follows.
The narrative sweeps us into an emotional realism that is at once sparse and dramatic, pumping up the saga of resilience and humanism with vignettes and frames that form a panoramic arc over the film's rugged landscape.
Poorna's saga begins in an impoverished village of Andhra Pradesh and ends on the world's highest summit -- Everest. It is an ambitious arc, navigated and tempered with a lavish affection for the downtrodden and an absence of patronising pride in depicting the rise of a young underprivileged girl to heights of glory.
Little Ishaan in "Taare Zameen Par" had his Ram Shankar Nikumbh to steer him into the light. Poorna has Praveen Kumar, a bureaucrat who belongs to that rare breed of civil servants who still believes he took on the job with the purpose of improving lives of the underprivileged. I've read some very strange comments on how Rahul Bose has cast himself in a self-glorifying role.
Wait... Is that against the law? To play noble characters? Has that been declared a cognisable offence by a social order that thinks cynicism is cool?
It is easy to get cynical about a character whose heart bleeds for those who are not given one square meal a day. There is an emotionally surcharged moment in the narrative where the conscientious bureaucrat eats a mid-day meal with school girls to get a feel of the awful food that is served up by government-funded canteens. Rahul's Praveen Kumar doesn't flinch as he swallows morsels of the garbage (junk food at its purest?).
But we do.
Throughout the telling of this inspiring tale of a girl who won't buckle under the pressure of poverty and cynicism, Rahul gives us the portrait of a bleak landscape lit up by a distant hope. He is the artiste who won't judge a value system that condemns the downtrodden to doom. But he won't condone it either.
He can laugh with Poorna at her poverty -- don't miss the sequence where the girls at the boarding school giggle and compare each other's poverty -- but he won't laugh at her condition.
"Poorna" is a little gem with a big heart. It has many virtues. Aditi Inaamdar who plays Poorna is a prized find. So is young S. Mariya as Poorna's spunky but tragically vanquished cousin. The scenes showing the two girls bonding are so heart warming as to make us overlook the film's obvious flaws of over-statement.
However, some of the other actors in incidental roles seem to have come on board just to feel good about themselves for helping a noble cause.
The film is shot with minimum fuss and optimum feelings. When little Poorna stood at the peak of Everest, I felt I was standing up there with her. Gloriously triumphant and hoping that what Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote 45 years ago for a just social order would come true soon: Kitne din aankhen tarsengi/ Kitne din yun dil tarsenge/ Ek din toh baadal barsenge/ Ae mere pyaase dil/ aaj nahin toh kal mehkegi khwabon ki mehfil.
Take a bow, Rahul Bose. "Poorna" is not just a tale
of the triumph of the human spirit. We all have a Poorna inside us waiting to
conquer our own Everest.
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