‘Pihu’ Makes For a Great Short Film, Falls Flat as a Feature

Pihu has been in the news for multiple reasons. First, the trailer caught everyone’s attention where seeing a kid hanging from the balcony gave us all mini heart attacks. Then, the subsequent marketing plan got us riled up: a random call from a wailing child abruptly gets disconnected and on calling back on the same number, you get a trailer of the movie.

Many dissed the insensitive promotional strategy, but in the end, the 93-minute film about a child home alone with no help or escape route in sight did manage to garner sufficient curiosity. There is even chatter about the film making it to the Guinness Book of World records for being one of its kind to have a single character played by a two-year-old.

The film opens with young Pihu languidly lying down on the bed. As the camera slowly pans, we try and make sense of where we are.

The strewn confetti and half-empty plates of food lying all around the house hint at some sort of a celebration that had taken place recently. A birthday party, probably? But with balloons and streamers lining on the walls, the movie begins with a house remains wrapped in eerie silence.

Pihu gets up next to who we assume is her mother. When, despite the kid’s repeated nudges and calling, the woman remains lifelessly still, our worst fears come true. We start to wonder, ‘What will this kid do now? Is there no one at home? Where is the father? What will happen now?’ The initial few minutes are nerve racking.

The kid hops around the house unaware of the dangers around her, and like concerned guardians, we can’t help but crane our necks to watch her every move, hoping she will be fine.

Everything scares us. The iron is switched on, the stairs are too steep...the cooking range she turns on! The kid, we see, is surrounded by things that can kill her - electric plug points. sleeping pills, running taps - and for the concerned audience, that’s traumatising.

After the first half an hour, however, after all the cards have been revealed to us, we realise that the script is bald and has very little to offer after the initial shock. The movie eventually fails at keeping its audience in a state of absolute tension, and soon we find ourselves accustomed with the proceedings. And that’s when the real problem starts.

It’s a dreadful situation, yes, but this single idea, without adequate sub text, doesn’t do well when stretched to feature-length.

Little Pihu, aka Myra Vishwakarma, is adorable on screen and makes us fall in love with her innocence. But as for the film, writer-director Vinod Kapri fails to consistently evoke a nuanced emotion. The subject would have been perfect for a powerful short film, but as a full-length feature, it falls flat.

2.5 Quints out of 5.

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