Piku - Review

wogma rating: Buy the DVD already (?)
quick review:

Nothing happens in the film. And therein is its beauty. A simple, charming film despite its toilet humor and a couple other quibbles.

Reviews

19100 views

Click on the tabs below for wogma review, external reviews, user reviews, and twitter verdict

Wogma Review

Piku and her father, Bhaskor make for a dysfunctional family that is as normal as it gets or a normal family that is as dysfunctional as one comes. You know some uncle or grandpa who is mighty difficult to live with and yet is adorable to an outsider. She's hot-headed, an angry young woman in her own right but is also a nurturer and a care-taker you feel sorry for. Piku, the film though is beyond these characters. It takes on difficult themes that are abundant in real life but rarely touched on reel. And that is what makes the film endearing despite a couple things that make you cringe and a couple other that seem like creases on an otherwise smooth texture.

The all-encompassing theme of course, is that of role-reversal between a parent and a child as age takes its toll. Not only do the nurturer and recipient exchange places, but also the person saying “NO!” to things that the other would want to do has subtly traded voice. This comes a little late in the film. But as you notice that happening you want Piku to allow Bhaskor to live his life. You want to tell her that is the only way he will find release (pun intended) from his constant bickering and obsessing.

Our man not only obsesses about his motions (as you know from the trailer) but is also constantly seeking attention under the garb of hypochondria. He is possessive about his daughter too and you can't miss that slight tinge of fear – fear of being alone. Fear that the child will not fulfill her duty of caring for him as he did for her. He lets out his insecurity too, but not without emotional blackmail. All trademarks of a parent, and dare I say, an Indian parent.

At the same time, he is far from being a traditional parent. He will condemn a woman like an average Indian man of that age. But unlike most men I know from that age group, it is because she choses to stay at home and be dependent on the husband. Quite a contradiction from what he expects from his daughter - a beautiful contradiction because that is not a man-woman thing, it is a parent-child, a more human nature thing.

These subtleties in writing are hard to find in films across the world, let alone mainstream cinema with star power that this one has. And this comes from a first viewing where I've barely overcome the awesome performances and witty dialogue. I also spent a huge portion of the first half trying to get over the constant shouting matches on, on screen. Like I would in real life, I felt like saying, “could you turn it down a notch, people?” And guess what, go to a restaurant or a theater – people are loud – even when they are having fun, and of course when they are arguing.

But hey, if its Amitabh Bachchan shouting, it must be for a reason, right? His character, Bhaskor is such. He is argumentative and adamant. He is the kind of old man that will make you shout, “CUT IT OFF!” Yet, he is as non-standard a dad as it gets. In the larger, more philosophical, attitude towards life kind-of-a-way you are waiting to find something that will make you identify him with some old man you know if not your dad. Because this man has a liberal attitude towards sex; sounds perfectly sane for his age, when he talks about his dislike for women who don't have their personal ambitions . There comes the beauty of contradictions again. The characters that make Piku, the film so real.

Piku, the character on the other hand is easier to identify with. Torn between her career and her familial responsibilities, she hold her own. You wonder how she doesn't lose her temper more often with her father. The impatience seems a little unlikely. Only to realise that she has found outlets in the world outside. She is angry with the world. She is liberal, has a liberal environment but is she liberated?

Rana, their unlikely thus forced companion brings in the balance to the equation. It's not like he doesn't involve himself in the banter, but there is a calmness about his persona - an acceptance, if not resignation, for that thing called life.

Having written so far, I haven't even felt like talking about the performances. If that is not a compliment to the actors in itself, then let me verbalise it. I'm finding it practically impossible to separate the actor from the character. Does it matter then, that Amitabh Bachchan's Bengali accent doesn't seem consistent. You aren't surprised one bit that Bhaskor is the kind of man who'd want the last word and the second-last one too in every single conversation he has. But it doesn't feel consistent that he does go mum when he is offered a new remedy for constipation. That he listens to with rapt attention. The other couple times you catch him going quiet are when a character has behaved contrary to what he had judged him as. He is surprised to not have seen that streak.

And boy am I in love with these actresses who started out as pretty props but now wear their makeup-less, more girl-next-door look on their sleeves? Be it Kangna Ranaut in Queen or Deepika Padukone here. She sounds shrill when she is in a quarrel with a cab driver, but that's what the girl-next-door who shouts at a cab driver would sound like.

About Irrfan Khan, I think I am soon going to stop writing about his performances. They are so enamouring that I find myself repetitive. It is amazing how he can make any character wear his deadpan look and dry humor as if it were his own. A rare case of the actor bringing a part of him to the character and getting away with it.

The actors in smaller roles too have wonderful quirks as characters to make them memorable. Be it Moushumi Chatterjee as the blunt aunt or Jisshu Sengupta as the coy boy or Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury as a reminder of kaka from a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film – be it Anand or Chupke Chupke.

With all this going for Piku, it is a shame then, that I found myself liking the film more while writing about it than while watching it. The simplicity of the plot and the Bengali does make you think of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and that is as good as it gets, right? But, you stop short as soon as you see a product placement and then another. They just make you cringe. Then you start noticing more things you don't like. For example, some of the outbursts seem abrupt and more for the sake of convenience. For a movie about relationships, scenes that linger between two people rather than one scene after another.

And of course, for a person as averse to toilet humor as I am, a film which has poop as a character by itself, is a little hard to digest. Yes, yes, even if it is Amitabh Bachchan's. See what Piku just did there? It made me incorporate my own version of toilet humor in the review. That is its charm.

Piku leaves ample scope for stereotyping Bengalis but I'll resist the temptation to go in that direction. I will say though that their “roshogulla-ness” is taken in perfectly even when they are being nasty and well – passing of motions as emotions.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None.
  • Language: No abusive language.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: No intimacy on screen. But a few scenes with talk about sex, pre-marital sex, casual sex and virginity.
  • Concept: Father-daughter relationship that also subtly observes our society the way it is.
  • General Look and Feel: Creates a warm ambiance.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 3.5
  • Story: 4
  • Lead Actors: 5
  • Character Artists: 5
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 3
  • Lyrics: 3

Piku - Movie Details

Piku - Trailer

If you cannot see a video above, click here to see it on YouTube

Comments (35)

Click here for new comment

Anuj:

BIG B looks in fine form in the promos. Ditto for Irrfan. Add to that Deepika's star value, hopefully Piku emerges a winner. Fingers crossed! Either this one's gonna be one of the year's best films or one that flatters to deceive and fizzles out. Hopefully its the former.

TimELiebe:

@Anuj: "BIG B", huh? In my household we call him "Bachchan-ji" - and Abhishek "Bachchan Junior". :D

Sounds interesting - of course, how successful that is depends on if he's able to throttle back his Bachchan-ness enough to play just another colorful senile old coot, or if (as often happens when Bachchan-ji tries to play an average person) his star power and presence swamps the movie. It's not necessarily a bad thing if that's kind of the point, but it could be off-putting it you're expecting something other than "The Amitabh Bachchan Show".

Seeing the trailer, I kind of have hopes that Irrfan Khan might prove to be a suitable foil to him, because he does dry amusement very well - which may be just the thing this movie needs to keep it from getting too-too.

Anup:

Love the Bengali tone , i thing it would be a Laugh Riot

Anuj:

@Meeta : Thanks for informing me that I'm "not interested in watching" this film, but unfortunately I am INDEED very very interested in catching up on this one. It seems like you've made a habit of twisting or censoring my comments as well as my ratings!

Dattaprasad Godbole:

Agree with most of the review except the part where Shoojit's first movie is mentioned. It's not 'Vicky Donor', but 'Yahaan'.

meetu:

@TimELiebe Yeah, that is what he is affectionately called - Big B.

I have to disagree. If there is one star who makes you forget who you are watching it is Amitabh Bachchan. I still can't get his performance in Eklavya out of my mind even though I didn't quite like the film. I felt the same way while watching Piku's trailer.

@Anup I sure hope so!

@Anuj I'm sorry. I don't understand what you are saying. It shows to me as "Anuj has given this movie a Want to Watch". This part of the comments section did have a glitch but it has been sorted for a bit.

I don't remember twisting your comments. But, yes I sure do censor your comments to maintain healthy conversations in this forum.

@Dattaprasad Apologies. I meant it as his name reminds me of the film. Corrected it. Thank you for pointing it out. :D

Kapil :

This is the first time that Deepika is looking like she can also act. She's improved a lot since her initial days. She used to be show piece in those says. About Irrfan and Big B.... you can't ever get enough of them. And to that Shoojit Sircar's direction. What more do you need to take out time to watch a movie.

Anup:

Such a simplicity , such a freshness.
Soojit and Hirani are two of such directors who can make a movie using toilet humor , still its a family movie.
And the Bengali tone , if Irfan would not have been there then it would have felt totally like a Bengali Film , a flavour which has been nicely done before in KAHAANI but not in such perfection as that was a crime thriller and was totally missing in BARFI and BYOMKESH BAKSHI.
Back to Back three entertaining sober movies , great work Soojit.
I havnt seen YAHAAN his directorial debut but i have heard that it was a good movie too. Certainly have to watch it now.

Anup:

@Anup : Did you just refer to Madras Cafe as a "sober" movie? Its was a superb movie no doubt, but sober is not exactly the kind of term anyone should associate with that!

TimELiebe:

Really, Meetu? You ended up liking the film that much, after a preview that sounded like you were about to dismiss it altogether? Well, now we have to see it! :)

As for "forget you are watching" Amitabh Bachchan? I was thinking more his character in Teen Patti than Eklavya, which you may remember we loved Loved LOVED!

But, though I'm not explaining it very well, I'd say that proves my point even as you say it disproves it: It's precisely because Eklavya is played by Amitabh Bachchan that he becomes a great and memorable character. He is a genuine movie star, of the old-school like that few actors in any part of the world can claim to be - Sean Connery and Toshiro Mifune are the only other actors I can think of who have a similar blend of grace and strength.

Anyway, it's great to hear that this is more than a great actor amusing himself with poop jokes.... :D

meetu:

@Anuj you typed your name as Anup :'D (I think this is the second time it is happening. Freudian slip?)

@TimELiebe My preview sounded like I was going to dismiss it? Where? How?

I think I get what you are trying to say now. Amitabh Bachchan makes the character memorable because of him and thus making the character more about him than the character itself. Hmmm...that I guess, he is guilty of. I was talking about the other kind of stars. The kind that make you forget the character and can't stop reminding you of the actor.

Would love to hear what you think of Piku. It has a theatrical release in the US, I know my friends in Atlanta are going this weekend.

Anup:

Anuj- Of coarse its a great movie , i just used SOBER as a word which can complement all the three movies , As i haven't described all the three movies individually.

Anuj:

@Meeta : Nope. There's some glitch from the back end!

Suman:

Direction: 2.5
Story: 0.5
Lead Actors: 2
Character Artists: 2

Dialogues: 1.5
Screenplay: 2.5
Music Director: 1.5
Lyrics: 1

Suman:

lol anuj and anup !!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DycrSIo3btc

meetu:

@Anuj ha ha ha. No this one is surely not a technical glitch. If you note the link to the user profile* which is generated by the backend has the name as Anuj. That is how I knew the post was by Anuj and not Anup. The backend uses the registered e-mail ID and not the user name.

@Suman wow! That's harsh! Would be great if you could tell what you didn't like.

And literally laughed out loud while watching the video. Thanks for sharing.

~ ~ ~

*line which currently reads: Anuj has given this movie a Want to Watch . Anuj has posted 776 comments and has rated 68 movies.

Shaivi:

I am all excited to watch this movie!

Suman:

Film is more concerned about Constipation?

Murtaza Ali:

Piku is an evocative family drama that tugs at our heartstrings and delivers a serious message about life in an altogether non-serious manner. It teaches us about the meaningfulness of life while depicting how most of us fail to savor its true pleasures while we still can.

Here's the link to my review of Piku

http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/2015/05/piku-2015-shoojit-sircars-evocative.html

kapil:

Two hours well spent!! This simple has so much to offer. As Murtaza Ali puts in the last comment, "It teaches us about the meaningfulness of life while depicting how most of us fail to savor its true pleasures while we still can."
Bollywood is really growing by each passing year. When you see divas like Deepika cast in a close to reality role like this, with minimal make up, you know that our film industry is on the right path. What is more comforting is when these types of films do good business at the box office. Films are no more just a way out of our frustrated lives. They are no more some medium to provide escape. A big thumbs up from me.

TimELiebe:

Sadly, Meetu - we didn't get Piku - we got Bombay Velvet instead. :(

TimELiebe:

Because Syracuse, NY only has one screen for Indian cinema since the Palace in Eastwood stopped showing Bollywood films, despite us having a large Southern Asian community here.

Guess everybody has the ErosNow app instead.....

Anuj:

Fabulous movie. Supreme performance by the leading trio! Piku is a much more refined and pleasant version of a father-child relationship than many of the over-rated attempts bollywood has made in the past. 4/5

Fan:

Anuj / Anup confusion? Deja vu. Well spotted Meetu.

TimELiebe:

::My preview sounded like I was going to dismiss it? Where? How?::

Your comments about the Preview sounded like you weren't expecting much but a poop joke comedy with an overqualified cast, Meetu. I was really pleasantly surprised as how much you ended up liking this movie, based on what you'd said about it in your Preview.

Isn't it nice to have a film exceed your expectations? :)

meetu:

@TimELiebe Actually, I was looking forward to the film and I thought that's what the preview says. I was just hoping it wouldn't be only about constipation, which it isn't. Anyway, that's history. I highly recommend the film even though some of it's dialogue is in Bengali and a lot might be lost in translation of emotion in the sub-titles.

TimELiebe:

::even though some of it's dialogue is in Bengali and a lot might be lost in translation of emotion in the sub-titles.::

Welcome to MY world, Meetu! ;)

meetu:

@TimELiebe I can imagine. Very recently, we had this conversation of how much we must be losing out on cultural references in films, even if we understand the language.

Fan:

Finally got the opportunity to watch Piku.

A gem of a film few blemishes apart. Amitabh Bachhan has played the 70 year old dad to the hilt. Not even once did I feel that I was watching Amitabh. In each scene that he was present his mannerisms, expressions, utterings were almost genuine. Hats off to such a performance.

Deepika Padukone was mesmerising. Barring one random glitch like HNY (or FF) she has been on a roll since Cocktail.

The film has no story, and yet I was glued to it from the start to finish. Speaks tons about the director to make an absorbing full length feature film without any real story.

All other performances are in line with expectations.

For 2015, knowing the few films that are still lined up for release, it would be a safe guess to state that Amitabh Bachhan is guaranteed one more best actor trophy (sorry Bajrangi bhai). And Deepika is guaranteed one more best actress trophy (even if Bajirao Mastani excels then she would get it for BM but in the whole it is guaranteed).

meeta:

@Fan Indeed, indeed. I think a good film under your belt is award enough :P

TimELiebe:

Finally got to see it - and, although it is about constipation, it's also about a great deal more than that. Amitabh Bachchan does a brilliant job playing a cranky, opinionated old coot who expects his daughter to take care of him, even as he wants her to be as liberated as possible - and who, under all the crankiness loves her very much. Deepika Padukone is marvelous as the daughter, who gives as good as she gets to everyone, which terrifies people who don't know her well. And Irrfan Khan (just billed as "Irrfan" here) matches both as the wryly sensible but proud car service company owner who ends up driving them to from Dehli to Kolkata.

It's a "little" movie, a slice of life really - with major stars doing some of their best work. As the movie progresses and you see Pakukone's Piku try and hide her smile as Irrfan's Rana gets sucked into her family's insanity and deals with it believably, or their shared expression of exasperated amusement at some of Bhaskor or the rest of her family's antics, is in a small way heartwarming - they don't "fall in love", but they become their best selves around each other and clearly enjoy being together.

Everybody but Tammy loved it - Tammy refused to watch it, because as she said, "'Everybody Poops' - With Amitabh Bachchan? Pass!" It was realistically funny, believably poignant, and romantic without any "romance scenes" - unless you count Piku and Rana casually playing badminton together while dealing with their professional and home lives.

It's wonderful - and I'm glad we finally got around to seeing it.

TimELiebe:

If you haven't seen it - see it.

meeta:

@TimELiebe Tammy refuses to watch it even after you have reviewed it so?

TimELiebe:

@TimELiebe Tammy refuses to watch it even after you have reviewed it so?

Yep, Meeta - she didn't even want to hear about it. :(

To be fair, another part of the problem for her might be just how closely Piku and Bhaskor resemble our best friend and her mother, who live in connecting apartments and the daughter's never gotten married. We spent a lot of time during the last month with them, because our friend underwent major surgery and we were there to lend moral and any actual support we could (even though we now live a six-hour drive away) - Tammy basically spent two weeks living with a Parent/Adult Daughter relationship similar to the one in the movie!

Guess Tammy will just have to not have seen this one.... ::sigh::

meeta:

@TimELiebe aah. I have always found it interesting how our personal, real-life experiences influence or reel likes and dislikes

Leave a new comment