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Poorna  : Scales Vital Peaks
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Friday, March 31, 2017
Rahul Bose
Rahul Bose, Aditi Inamdar, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Heeba Shah, Harshvardhan, Arif Zakaria

The true story of a 13-year-old Adivasi girl from Telangana who was the youngest to scale Mount Everest needed to be chronicled. But Poorna Malavath’s feat couldn’t have been achieved if Dr Praveen Kumar, an exemplary police officer who opted for a posting in the Social Welfare Department, hadn’t been fortuitously around. There was also a proactive Chief Minister in the chair who backed the team unstintingly. It was therefore a combination of Poorna’s own grit and fortune favouring the brave. For instance, it was entirely by chance that Poorna joined a rock climbing group instead of going home and that’s where her natural skills for mountaineering were discovered and nurtured by the right people. 


In telling Poorna’s story, director Rahul Bose scores many goals. Bright little girls are stymied in small villages where the elders have neither vision nor funds to educate them. Fixing an early marriage for them is the easiest way out. Schools too would rather have them sweep the floor than teach them if they can’t pay their fees. The government-aided free schools are of course a racket by themselves. Rancid food instead of the nutritious menu promised on paper is gobbled up by middlemen and contractors in connivance with the school authorities. The spotlight is therefore not only on succeeding against overwhelming odds but also on the alarming rate of dropouts among girl students in schools.


It requires strict and straightforward officers like Dr Praveen Kumar to set right such a system, at least as long as he’s around. Poorna was fortunate. She’s currently back in school and has a much better story to tell than her cousin and best friend Priya whose intelligence was stifled way too early in her life.


However, despite focusing on all the right issues, Rahul Bose’s telling is flat and monotone.In May 2014, an avalanche killed 16 people on the Nepal side of the Everest precisely when Poorna and fellow mountaineer Anand Kumar were attempting to scale it from the Chinese side. But Bose is unable to give the adrenaline rush and excitement that such a Himalayan achievement required. It therefore remains more an important biopic than a fulfilling cinematic experience.   


Aditi Inamdar as Poorna and Rahul Bose himself as Dr Praveen Kumar with Heeba Shah, Arif Zakaria and Manoj Kumar in smaller roles, perform adequately. Salim-Suleiman’s ‘Poori Qayanaat’ sung by Raj Pandit is timelessly beautiful.


For a substantial story that needed to be told more adventurously, Poorna gets a 2.5* rating.


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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