POORNA Movie Review: This could have been a world-class biopic




How many 13-year-old kids around the world have climbed Mt. Everest? Google search throws up just one name - Jordan Romero. He comes from a privileged background from a family of mountaineers. Poorna Malavath is a girl, and daughter of parents who are farm laborers in the tribal region of Telangana, India. So, her feat as the first 13-year-old girl mountaineer to conquer Mt. Everest is far more significant and people world over would have been interested in her incredible story.  


The film could have been juxtaposed against misrepresentations of Indian reality like SLUMDOG MILLIONNAIRE but its writer and director are obviously obsessed with outdated ‘grammer’ of stagy Indian art house cinema and not with their inspiring subject – Poorna Malavath. That’s the fatal error of their artistic judgment. The language and style of cinema is secondary to what inspires you to make a film. And a biopic about a little girl’s incredible feat should have been made for the lay audience and not just for the festival circuit.


I also have a feeling that the screenplay of the film spruces up Poorna’s story with elements extraneous to it. It’s the perspective of an outsider who pities the tribal poor instead of empathizing with them.


Poorna (Aditi Inamdar) and Priya (S. Mariya) are friends and cousins. Their families are neighbors in the tribal hamlet of Pakala. Priya comes across a leaflet that talks about a govt. run residential school where everything is free. She wants to join the school, as her parents are not interested in educating her further. She plans to run away with Poorna but is caught. Her parents get her married. She advises Poorna to join the school and fulfill her (Priya's) dream. Poorna’s father agrees to get her admitted to the school. An IPS officer, Dr. R. S. Praveen Kumar (Rahul Bose), volunteers to take up an assignment as the head of the State’s Social Welfare Board that runs these residential schools for tribal children. His well-wishers in bureaucracy dissuade him but he sticks to his guns. The drop out rate in the schools is very high. In the mean time Poorna runs away from the school and Kumar meets her for the first time while looking for her. He gets to know about the mismanagement of these schools and initiates some reforms.


Poorna gets a call from Priya that she must not return to the village as her parents are planning to get her married. Poorna decides to join a group of boys and girls going for a holiday camp to learn mountaineering skills. This is where she finds her calling. She is good at mountaineering and gets selected as part of a group to be trained as mountaineers. Kumar manages to get state funding for the professional training of these dalit/tribal kids. Poorna and an older boy Anand Kumar get selected for an Everest Expedition training programme. Poorna learns that Priya is admitted to hospital for complications in the delivery of her child. She rushes to her side and gets help for her. Priya delivers a baby but dies. That breaks Poorna’s heart and she opts out of the mountaineering programme. That’s when she gets a letter Priya had written to her before her death. She wanted Poorna to fulfill a dream she (Priya) could not. Poorna rejoins the programme and is selected for the Everest expedition.


It’s a stagy, slow-paced, and pretentious INDIAN art-house film. In fact a piece of news published about Poorna’s triumph is a far more interesting, inspiring, and moving read than this film on her life. Check this out for yourself. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/140615/nation-current-affairs/article/cm-k-chandrasekhar-rao-announces-reward-malavath-poorna-and


The direction and screenwriting are inconsistent, half-hearted, and careless; performances by actors playing elder characters are caricatural. They add to the staginess of the film. S. Mariya who plays Priya is very good and natural. Aditi Inamdar as Poorna is good too. It’s not a good film on technical parameters. The music and songs have been use inappropriately


While the subject of the film impresses, the film fails and in my view it’s a botched opportunity.




Directed by Rahul Bose, Produced by Amit Patni, Rahul Bose, Written by Prashant Pandey, Shreya Dev Verma, Starring Aditi Inamdar, S. Mariya,  Rahul Bose, Heeba Shah, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Harsh Vardhan, Arif Zakaria, Manoj Kumar Music by Salim–Sulaiman, Cinematography by Subhransu Das, Edited by Manan Mehta, Production Companies: PVR Pictures, Rahul Bose Productions, Distributed by AA Films

Rajesh Kumar Singh

@khulkebolo @neelnabh

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