POORNA

Poorna review: A courageous effort

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It took 15 years for actor Rahul Bose to don the director's hat again—he debuted as a director with Everybody Says I'm Fine, which released in India in 2002. And he had an inspiring story to do so. It was about Poorna Malavath, a 13-year-old girl from a remote village in Telangana, who became the youngest girl to scale Mount Everest.

The title of the film and its story acquire a poignant shade when, in one scene, making light of their poverty-stricken lives, Poorna (Aditi Inamdar) tells her classmates, “Mere toh naam mein hee 'poor' hai (Even my name has the word 'poor' in it),” and goes on to suffix its meaning with her historical feat in 2014.

Bose plays the role of R.S. Praveen Kumar, the progressive IPS officer who spots Poorna's talent and mentors her. Bose got involved in the project as an actor but later turned producer due to the lack of funds, and subsequently turned director, too.

The story traces the life of the young tribal girl and her friendship with Priya (S. Mariya) in their village, Pakala, in Nizamabad district of Telangana. They hatch a plan to avoid being married off—by escaping to a neighbouring school that promises “eggs, bananas, milk” in the mid-day meals. Priya gets 'caught' and Poorna 'runs'. At the new school, however, forget nutritious food, Poorna experiences Oliver Twist-like treatment on asking for a second helping. Enters Harvard-returned Kumar who has opted for a nondescript posting over a posh one and wants to clean up the corrupt system (of the food contractor). He works to bring about actual change in the school and the lives of the students. He offers a supportive and nourishing environment to the lost, frail teenager, played convincingly by Inamdar, and soon discovers and realises her true potential.

At a time when positive stories around nation-building, biopics of inspirational figures, bringing men into the feminism movement, triumphing over your fears, are the order of the day, Poorna, too, could have spiralled into a hail-the-underdog abyss full of cliches. But Bose manages to keep most of the run-time of 100 minutes engaging enough.

Anand (Manoj Kumar), Poorna's classmate and co-leader in the expedition doesn't shy away from giving her the credit where it is due. The harsh conditions and trials of mountain climbing are brought out through the classes that the two attend before the expedition. In the final leg, Poorna draws upon the inspiration that her friendship with Priya infused in her, taking the decisive step towards the summit. The final scene, where a crowd of international mediapersons bombard Poorna with questions while she stands smiling at her mentor, came across as over dramatised, but can be forgiven at a pinch for Poorna's real-time victory.

Film: Poorna: Courage has no limit
Director: Rahul Bose
Cast: Aditi Inamdar, Rahul Bose
Rating: 3/5

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