Prateek Vats Becomes The Voice Of The Marginalised In The Gem Of A Satire That Runs High On Metaphors
Eeb Allay Ooo! Movie Review Rating: 5/5 Stars (Five stars)
Star Cast: Shardul Bharadwaj, Mahendra Nath, Nutan Sinha, Shashi Bhushan, and Naina Sareen.
Director: Prateek Vats
What’s Good: Every single thing. On the surface, what looks like a social comedy is a satire that will speak to you on the level you understand and empathise with the society/surrounding.
What’s Bad: Only if you have adapted yourself to the spoon-feeding cinema, Pratik Vats is serving food, not feeding you.
Loo Break: Start the movie and decide for yourself, and I know it will be a NO. And you can hold it for 90 minutes.
Watch or Not?: For the sake of the monkeys giving the best expressions, WATCH Eeb Allay Ooo in the first opportunity you get to. There is wisdom worth years packed in a 90-minute screenplay.
A young immigrant from Bihar comes to Delhi and gets recruited as a Monkey repeller (yes, that is a real job listed under the Government of India). Not fond of his job, he struggles to learn it and coins his ways only to be rejected by the bosses. Eeb Allay Ooo traces the journey of a man trying to penetrate the system that only wants to push him to the margins where the marginalised have created a world for themselves.
Eeb Allay Ooo! Movie Review: Script Analysis
Written by debutant Prateek Vats & Shubham, Eeb Allay Ooo! on the front cover is only about a man trying to fit in a place that doesn’t necessarily want him. But when you dig deep, there is too much to absorb in a single viewing. First and foremost, Prateek, who tells the story of this bizarre job that really exists in the country’s capital, talks about the immigrant labours and the dignity they seek but the exploitation they get. It is watching Delhi from the POV of a marginalised immigrant being pushed down by his fellow pals.
Here is a man (Anjani, Shardul Bharadwaj), who comes to the city with ambitions and dreams, but lands up in a job that is to get rid of monkeys. Now there is catch here too. The Animal Rights body has made using real Langoors for labour illegal, which brings in this odd job. Which means humans acting like monkeys to repel their other species. Monkey See, Monkey Do!
Never in the 90 minutes Prateek and Shubham make Eeb Allay Ooo! an out and out in your face social commentary. The screenplay in the first half is a humorous and approachable comedy about the working class. It is the second half where the two begin their magic. Metaphor is the strongest keyword in the film. There is a commentary about the haves, and the have nots, the class divide and the increasing gap between the two worlds.
The biggest of all metaphors is that Monkeys have created menace in the highest place of power – Lutyen’s Delhi. Monkeys on the streets creating menace and monkeys inside the powerful buildings running the country. The apes are not elected candidates, but they indeed get the highest priority. Maybe that’s too much reading between the lines, but I am sure Prateek and Shubham aimed that. The divide is even geographic. Anjani stays across Jamna Park but is expected to come to the elite so they can run their show. A quick nod to the fact that immigrants run a country.
In their limited runtime, the writers touch as many as subjects they can. There is bigotry, politics, nationalism, religious angle. The opening has a voiceover say gods turning into pests, and towards the climax, a man being killed for hurting a monkey, we know where all of that points towards. What it also points at is the ignorance of the privileged. Forget the ones who are not even aware of the job; even those who know and handle it are similarly ignorant. For example, Vats plants a character who is from the bosses of the monkey repeller, but still feeds monkeys in the banned space, humans behaving dehumanising, knowing the repercussions.
Not that it is only about the society. Eeb Allay Ooo! is also a study of humans. The race between the have nots, and haves haunting it. The friendship that develops out of nowhere. Humans behaving like animals while trying to get rid of them. A man having aspirations but told to burn them, so he fits in a profession he doesn’t want to be in. He is even afraid of monkeys but by the end, makes peace with them. Anjani, in a scene, even says, “Kahan narak mein laake phenk diye hain (You have thrown me into hell).” And you see him marinating himself in the soil of the same hell and becoming one with it.
There is too much to unfold in the screenplay that Eeb Allay Ooo! has. It keeps a man in a pressure cooker that our society is and waits for him to boil up and burst, so he becomes one of the stone-hearted that the machinery called society has created in abundance. Watch out for the ending frame and the message it holds. It’s what the society wants to make you but it is you who needs to rebel and swim against the trout. Some have the privilege to and they need to create opportunities for others.
Eeb Allay Ooo! Movie Review: Star Performance
It is impossible to separate actors from real-life people in the film, of which there are quite a few. Prateek Vats aims at casting actors who can break the camera’s spell and behave like it doesn’t exist anywhere. Shardul Bharadwaj as Anjani (metaphor in the name too, Google who Anjani was), doesn’t look like an actor playing a character. I have not seen Shardul in real life, so he will be Anjani till then, because that is the power of his acting. His body language, the way he speaks, the gaze, his dropped shoulders due to the pressure, everything has created a fictional human closest to reality.
Nutan Sinha plays the sister Shashi, a character that is strong enough to save her family, but vulnerable to break down when the husband brings a risky responsibility home. Here is a woman who seeks cleanliness, cringes at the smell of socks but stays in the slums. She finds pride in telling someone that her brother has a government job, something the marginalised feel is privilege regardless of the level. Nutan is a scene-stealer when the camera zooms into her face.
Shashi Bhushan and Naina Sareen come in at the right times and create the maximum effect. But my heart is with Mahendra Nath, who plays himself in the film. As per reports, Shubham was actually inspired by his story and wrote Eeb Allay Ooo, while giving him his space to shine. And that my friends is responsible filmmaking and dignity of labour. You respect your subject, and bring him up to the tower you built on his base. Take a bow, Vats and team!
Eeb Allay Ooo! Movie Review: Direction, Music
The direction in Eeb Allay Ooo! is a monster of its own. Prateek, who is credited as the director and Shubham as the associate director, are throughout experimenting with the style of filmmaking. What begins like a documentary goes the mockumentary way and thus end up like a fiction drama. With the help of cinematographer Saumyananda Sahi they manage to create a lived-in universe. It’s Delhi that we have seen, see and will continue to do so. The camera skilfully manages to show you only enough that you understand what the story is. The monkeys on the government buildings, the lack of space in the houses or the streets, or be it the close-up shots that showcase the vulnerability, watch out for the absurd opening shot, Sahi does wonder.
One question, though, how long were these guys waiting in front of the monkeys to capture the right expressions? Every ape in the frame gives the expression that goes with the story, and editor Tanushree Das’ talent does the right job here. Music kicks in when needed and creates an intriguing impact.
Eeb Allay Ooo! not for once takes the chest-thumping route, or emotional dialogue delivery catch. Everything is as subtle as it can be but piercing like the sharpest arrow.
Eeb Allay Ooo! Movie Review: The Last Word
If you have 90 minutes in your life, spend them watching Eeb Allay Ooo!. It is a film that will make your mind exercise. Watch it and think about it; try to understand what the filmmakers have to say. Prateek Vats’ directorial needs to travel as far as it can to make the world see how humans are pitched against the humans, and it is also a circus for the animals who we think of as pests.
Eeb Allay Ooo! Trailer
Eeb Allay Ooo! releases on 18th February, 2021.
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