In a quiet, remote village in Southern India, Pedro lives a simple life as the town’s handyman, scaling electrical pylons to keep the current flowing and frequenting the local watering hole, much to the displeasure of those around him. An outcast in his community and a drunk, Pedro’s life changes forever when he one day accidentally kills a cow, setting off a chain of events that begin pulling at the already fraying threads of his village society and turning his own subdued life on its head.
Displaying the true nature of the butterfly effect in a real-life scenario, Natesh Hegde’s feature debut is confident and assured, proving to be bold in more ways than one. Already tackling themes of prejudice, isolationism, religion and more, Hegde goes a step further by transporting the story to his own roots, shooting in his childhood backyard of Karnataka and presenting settings and surroundings that have rarely before been seen on-screen. This makes the storytelling all the more stirring and engaging when paired with the exciting cinematography that takes full advantage of its Western Ghats location. Hegde and team must have had a terrific time filming this project as the rain pitter-pattered down amid the whispering trees that are hauntingly captured for the world to see. The solitary, outcast lifestyle that Pedro is forced to live is felt even more powerfully through zero presence of a score, the soundscape instead filled with a natural ambience that absorbs the viewer into the scenes unfolding on-screen with no distractions.
Nonetheless, this method has its flaws and in Pedro they are more than visible. With a simple script injected with a few minor moments of profundity, a lack of a score with lots of lingering sequences and little dialogue can cause the result to drag at times. There little sense of drama or peril in the 108-minute runtime, and although this is certainly ramped up toward the grand conclusion, it all feels a little too long thanks to its own meandering pace.
This said, the majority of Pedro’s cast is comprised of amateur actors – although it has to be said one probably wouldn’t notice unless told – and this raw presentation instils a sense of realism for an almost documentary-style effect, placing the viewer in the room right next to the actors as if it truly were a real-life event.
Pedro received its world premiere at Busan Film Festival and is certainly a welcome addition at London Film Festival 2021. A strong foundation for Natesh Hegde to build upon going forward, his debut picture is the latest example of what enticing arthouse projects are beginning to emerge internationally from India.
Pedro does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Pedro here: