Piku - Review
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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
- 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.
Piku - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Facebook Twitter YouTube Wikipedia IMDB
- Banner: MSM Motion Pictures, Saraswati Entertainment, Rising Sun Films Production
- Producer: N P Singh, Ronnie Lahiri, Sneha Rajani
- Director: Shoojit Sircar
- Lead Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan Khan
- Supporting Cast: Jisshu Sengupta, Raghuvir Yadav, Moushumi Chatterjee, Akshay Oberoi, Jisshu Sengupta, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
- Story: Juhi Chaturvedi
- Screenplay: Juhi Chaturvedi
- Dialogues: Juhi Chaturvedi
- Cinematography: Kamaljeet Negi
- Costume Designer: Veera Kapur
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 125 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Family, Relationships, Social
Piku - Trailer
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