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Review Kannada

Pedro review: Captivating, minimalist film that captures the condition of the marginalized

Release Date: 2022 / 01hr 45min

Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Shot in an observational style, Natesh Hegde’s debut feature holds society culpable for its prejudice and intolerance.

Written and directed by Natesh Hegde, the Kannada-language feature film Pedro (2021) has been produced by Rishab Shetty and stars Gopal Hegde, Ramakrishna Bhat Dundi, Raj B Shetty, Medini Kelamane and Nagaraj Hegde.

Pedro (Gopal Hegde), a handyman, is a servile worker on the margins of society. He does what he is told to, leads a simple life, keeps his head down, does not have too many expectations from life, and minds his business.

As a poor labourer, Pedro depends upon the goodwill of others and does not have the luxury of refusing work. He works on the power lines at Raju’s behest and when the landlord Hegde (Bhat Dundi) asks him to work on his farm, he complies. When Hegde’s guard dies suddenly, Pedro is told to take over the duty and is given a gun to scare wild boar and monkeys.

An incident takes place on the farm which infuriates Pedro and he sets out to avenge it, which in turn leads to an accident. This accident has dire consequences for the man and lays bare the seams of the community that he is a part of.

Shot in an observational style, Natesh Hegde’s debut feature reveals the intolerance fuelling every part of the country and preying on the voiceless. After Pedro’s accident, a video is circulated among some vigilantes in the community, making them impatient for 'action' against Pedro. They invoke concepts like ‘respect’ of the community and see themselves as its guardians. During a religious celebration, the self-appointed guardians of purity forbid Pedro from even touching the idol, which he resists.

Pedro is already an outsider and the incident exacerbates his situation. Throughout the film, we barely hear from him, even when his family and community ostracize him. However, his value lies in being a good worker and doing all kinds of odd jobs. His brother Bastyava (Nagaraj Hegde) is a drunkard who has been kicked out of his home by his family which has had enough of his ways. Easily led and with no agency of his own, Bastyava becomes a pawn and Pedro, a menace.

The performances of the film add to its authenticity, with Ganesh Hegde capturing the protagonist’s predicament poignantly. The supporting cast is excellent and conveys the social fabric of the community and the relationships within. We see how the landlord turns against Pedro when the truth threatens to reveal his own misdeeds. The community becomes culpable for Pedro’s fate.

The cinematography captures the stillness of the landscape which, in turn, highlights Pedro’s isolation. We see shots of him walking all alone on the farm, taking care of the plantation all by himself, walking along paddy fields and mostly being by himself. The isolation is layered with intolerance and the fate of the marginalized that lies in the hands of the powers that be. Natesh Hegde chooses not to dramatize violent moments in the film, gesturing towards them instead. In a country invested aggressively in religious symbolism, Pedro’s fate is foretold.

Pedro was premiered in the New Currents competition section at the 26th Busan International Film Festival. Natesh Hegde won the Best Director award at the Pingyao International Film Festival.

Pedro was screened at the 26th International Film Festival of Kerala being held in Trivandrum from 18–25 March 2022.


Related topics

IFFK Busan International Film Festival

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