Director: Vinod Kapri
Cast: Myra Vishwakarma, Prerna Sharma
Pihu is Trapped meets Home Alone without the anguish or the humour. A toddler, Pihu, wakes up next to her inert mother. Her father is not at home. Pihu shoves and calls and cries but her mom won’t open her eyes. It is now up to the two-year-old to survive the horrors of a modern high-rise apartment. This includes a microwave, a steam iron, a geyser, broken glass, floor cleaning fluid, a balcony – you get the drift.
Director Vinod Kapri has an ambitious premise and a wonderful lead – Pihu, played by Myra Vishwakarma, is a natural born star. Of course, she isn’t acting here. She’s just being. Vinod and cameraman Yogesh Jaini capture her as she is. Her laughter and tears and confusion are real. But Vinod places on her a burden that proves too big for her tiny shoulders – she has to keep us gripped for 93 minutes.
And she must do this with minimal aid either from other actors or from the script also by Vinod. The idea of a child alone in an apartment is inherently horrifying. But how do you build on it? Vinod attempts to create drama by having Pihu experience one danger after another – when all else has been exhausted, she finds the floor cleaning fluid. Since it’s white, she looks at it and asks, ‘dudu peelu?’ In another scene, she’s hanging half off the balcony, shouting for friends who don’t hear her. And if that wasn’t enough, her doll falls to the ground. Please don’t shout spoiler – this is in the trailer.
These attempts to up the emotional stakes fall flat because they are repetitive and obvious. And it feels like each time Vinod is confused about what to do, he has a character call on the cell phone. Pihu doesn’t have a lot of dialogue and some of it is very awkward – at one point, Pihu’s angry father says to her mother on the phone – You females are the worst thing in any man’s life!
In the beginning, I was worried sick about Pihu – this is basically every parent’s nightmare – but that quickly gave way to exhaustion. The script is so visibly manipulative that it’s difficult to stay invested. I’m going with two stars.