In 2011, Prakash Jha did Aarakshan, which spoke about caste-based reservations or quota system within government jobs and educational institutions. Nine years later, and right after the new Educational Policy was announced within the country, Prakash Jha came back with yet another social drama while trying to make a mark against the system with Pareeksha.
Buchi Paswan (Adil Hussain) is a rickshaw puller from Ranchi whose day starts with taking kids from a particular locality to school in his ‘Buchi Express’. Buchi has been going to that school for a while since he also knows the professor there. He talks to her about her son Bulbul (Shivam Jha), who he thinks is really sharp and brilliant, but since they are poor, he goes to a government school where even the professors don’t turn up regularly. All he wants is his son to study hard and score good marks, as he thinks that’s the way out of the “hell” he thinks his life is.
Pareeksha, shows a more realistic view of seeing dreams change to reality, while also portraying how aspirations can make people do deeds, they regret later, but while doing it, they think it’s okay. Very early on, we realise that all Buchi wants Bulbul to focus on is his studies. He does everything in his power to admit Bulbul in a CBSE school because he feels that’s where students get more opportunities and his son deserves all of them as he is brilliant.
Prakash Jha creates a very simple, template story about this situation, however the emotional touch doesn’t reduce. The characters are extremely easy to empathise with, even when they do something wrong as the viewers understand the main motive behind those actions.
In the second half, the film receives a push through a humble officer Kailash Anand (Sanjay Suri). He plays the moral that it’s not about state schools v/s private schools but just the right guidance and avenues. Through his kindness, he also provides tutoring to Bulbul and other kids who lack resources but not the hunger to make a difference. However, this moral cop is directly opposed by stubborn politicians and other rich people for whom every transaction is monetary, including the gift of talent and hard work.
Overall, Jha’s film about getting the right kind of schooling and education isn’t something fresh, especially with many films talking about it just recently however it shows that story of Bulbul’s independent achievements and the story of a dream turned into a reality through a more realistic lens.
Pareeksha is streaming on Zee 5.