The Reel Review
When her mother dies from a drug overdose, two-year-old Pihu is left to fend for herself home alone, oblivious to the life threatening dangers posed by everyday household items, in this dramatic thriller now on Netflix.
Writer/director Vinod Kapri bills this Hindi language movie as a social thriller based on a story he read about in 2014 – but frankly, this pointless film feels a lot more like child exploitation, with a manipulative, sadistic storyline. Over the course of two days, we see Pihu playing in and eating mommy’s sleeping pills scattered all over the floor, leaving the faucet running in the overflowing kitchen sink, leaving stove top burners on, and burning herself on a smoking iron that mommy left plugged in before killing herself. Precious little Pihu also manages to empty out the fridge and shut herself inside it, electrocute herself crawling over frayed wires, pour herself a glass of cleaning fluid she mistakes as milk, and later, scale the balcony railing of her high rise apartment. This nightmarish parental checklist of potential household disasters is so absurdly long it would almost feel inappropriately comical if we weren’t constantly reminded of Pihu’s dead mommy lying motionless on the bed every few minutes.
The plot doesn’t so much elicit suspense as it does a combination of boredom (seriously, watching a babbling two-year-old smear jam all over her face for ten minutes is about as thrilling as watching paint dry) and annoyance, being subjected to so many ridiculously manipulated scenes of “danger.” Add to this torture porn a jarring, inappropriately sweet score and you have one shockingly poor excuse for a movie.
• Pihu has been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records, hoping to make history as the first film whose lead actress is a two-year-old.
• Because Indian labor laws prohibited its star from working more than two hours per day, director Vinod Kapri spent two months with her, surrounding her with her own furniture, clothes and toys, to elicit a more natural performance. Pihu’s real life parents also play her parents in the film. (Yes, that’s her real mom playing dead on the bed.)
• In the film, the suicide note on the bedroom mirror reads that the mother would have killed Pihu too, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it.