Cast: Adil Hussain, Priyanka Bose, Shubham Jha, Sanjay Suri
Director: Prakash Jha
Pareeksha is based on a rickshaw puller's family in Ranchi. Adil Hussain plays the role of Bucchi Paswan, but his identity is not defined by who he is but what he does. So inadvertently, he becomes the 'rickshawala' whose life, and that of his small family, takes a 360 degree turn when he makes up his mind about sending his academically inclined son Bulbul Kumar (Shubham Jha) to a private school in hopes of a better prospect.
If one is familiar with Prakash Jha's previous works, the director likes to keep the dialogues and characters unrestrained, through which he speaks his mind on socio-cultural and political set up in the country. But since Bucchi here is from the lower strata of the society, he is shown to be a rather silent and receptive individual in specific situations and in life in general. So, in Pareeksha, Jha basically takes a small detour from his filmmaking style.
On a daily basis, Bucchi takes kids on his rickshaw and through an incident is led to believe that children going to private schools get a fair chance at opportunities in life. Now, he is adamant on sending Bulbul to an international school and even manages to get him in. Later, when expenses of 'good' education become a burden, a seemingly innocuous rickshawala treads the path of stealing and deceit.
Hussain has pulled off the lead role convincingly by working on his dialect, demeanour and physique. Its easy to take him as a rickshawala and in that the character gets more depth instead of just being on-surface. Priyanka Bose, who plays Bucchi's wife, is given a plump role to bite into and she does not let down. Child actor Shubham is also on par with seasoned actors around him. The ensemble cast put together, Pareeksha achieves in creating the milieu envisioned by Jha.
The film does verge on melodrama every once in a while and may fail to strike a chord in some scenes but since the story is moving ahead with various plot points, it does engage with the viewers on the themes of class, treatment and economic status in the Indian society.
Pareeksha does not preach on the pretext of tackling the life of a rickshaw puller and neither does it victimise the poor. Those are the plus points. It brings forth the story of people who are in our vicinity, geographically, but seldom take centre stage.