Pushpak - 1988

Author: Dr. Mandar
Pushpak
Year: 1988
Dir.: Singeetam Srinivas Rao
Cast: Kamal Haasan, Amla
 
When it comes to appreciating milestone- films from other regions, not understanding the language of dialogues has often proved to be a primary irritant and deterrent for many a movie-buff. Thankfully that problem doesn’t arise in case of Tamil director-writer Singeetam Srinivasa Rao’s Pushpak. By doing away with any dialogues and just using background sounds, Pushpak manages to show that a good ‘silent’ film is as effective in modern era as it was in the Chaplin-era.
 
Pushpak is a story of a typical struggling middle-class, young graduate (Kamal Haasan), who dreams big of having a life full of love and luxury. But in harsh reality he is jobless and almost penniless. One night, while returning home, he spots a drunk rich businessman (Sameer Khakkar) passed out on the road. On spur of the moment, the young man decides to kidnap the businessman and keeps him locked up in his small room. Assuming the rich man’s identity, the wannabe youngster now starts staying in the luxurious Pushpak Hotel suite, the key of which he had found on the kidnapped person. Overnight, his dreary life changes. Suddenly there is plenty of money to be spent and a beautiful girl (Amla) to be romanced. It’s a fantasy come true.
 
But he is also paying a heavy price for this misadventure. Apart from suffering pangs of his guilty conscience, he has unknowingly become a mistaken murder-target for a professional killer, who had been hired to get rid of the real rich man. So far the young man has managed to fool everybody and live his king-size dream but how long will this façade last? How will he come out of the web of deceit that he himself has created? Will his lofty dreams bite the dust?
 
Director Singeetam Rao’s clever script borrows elements from Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (rich drunkard; heroine mistaking the poor hero for a rich man) and Peter Seller’s Pink Panther (bumbling assassination attempts) but more importantly it captures everyday Indian life’s reality. Kamal Haasan’s masterly acting and miming skills make his performance a standout. As his lover, Amla looks sweet and the pair’s romantic scenes are quite imaginative. Despite some avoidable slapstick and toilet-humor, Pushpak comes through with flying colors as a bitter-sweet, romantic and intellectually stimulating comedy and it is a modern milestone for its daring attempt to go silent!

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