Movie review: Piku

The opening credits brimming with Indian classical music originating from the stringed instruments Sarod and Sitar induce the perfect soothing of the soul, just like the calm before the impending storm. Within the next few minutes begins the scream-yell-snap roller-coaster of the main characters, played by Mr. Amitabh Bachchan (as BhaskOr Banerjee, the old Bengali stereotype with constipation issues) and Deepika Padukone (as his successful, independent but exasperated daughter Piku). The ever-continuous fights between the father-daughter on a subject almost a taboo in elite social circles seem to be testing the audience patience at first. Yet, slowly and steadily, the audience learns to empathize with the incessant bowel problems of the grumpy old man. So much so, that everytime he steps out of the toilet, most of the audience is fervently wishing for a Clean-Boweled (Thanks to the IPL hogging the TV, I can come up with new terms like this!!) But, if that were so, the story would have not had much to offer us…

The story revolves around this tense yet endearing father-daughter relationship. The hypochondriac father leaves no stone unturned to seek her daughter’s help for the simplest of health problems, she be in a meeting or out on a date. He belongs to the new school of thought- which believes in a woman being financially, emotionally and mentally independent, and also does not shy away from giving them sexual independence. Unquestionably, he is the new-age dad that believes in his daughter being there for his health and emotional needs rather than having to serve total stranger in-laws after marriage. Giving this irritable old man company and most of her time is his obedient yet authoritarian, strict and rigid daughter who is a successful architect working for her own firm along with her partner. What is very interesting and novel about the character is her ability to handle her dad, ably perform her duties in spite of being a 21st generation child, and not shy away from admitting that women have sexual needs. So much so, she is completely non-apologetic and unembarrassed acknowledging her casual relationship to her family. She painstakingly attends to her father’s fictional heath demands and is not afraid to give him an earful for his silly grievances. She also understands that with him around, marriage is off cards and is prepared to face the future alone. Yes, she fumbles at times trying to juggle her personal and professional lives like a normal person and that brings more conviction to her character. Add to these brilliantly-sketched characters- a dear old house help, a loud but loving aunt, the neighboring homeopathic doctor, the Taxi-company owner whose fleet of cars Piku is unashamed to get crashed almost every day, you have a story replete with Motion and Emotion that can stand the scrutiny of the million audiences it will be served to.

The movie which moves at a very real pace is supported by an able background score and the journey song. The long journey from Delhi to Kolkata in the movie is abounded by dry humor, thanks to the wonderful comic timing between Mr. Banerjee and Rana. The stern female protagonist Piku finds a channel to heave out her emotional burden in the driver-cum-Taxi-company owner Rana. As the movie paces, she sheds off her inhibitions to him and gives a peek of a real, terrified daughter who fears to lose her dad to age and disease. The movie brings to realization a very cruel fact to the younger generation of having to deal with their quickly aging parents and with the associated fear of death. The importance of tending to aging parents in times when they need their children the most in also underlined. How irritable, grumpy, grouchy they may become, it is the responsibility of their children to care for them to them as long as they are alive. The parents having dealt with analogous issues while raising their own children, handling them during the pubertal and rebellious phases, the onus is on the children to return the goodwill and kindness their parents bestowed on them while they were growing up. However unreasonable they may become!

The casting is wonderfully done; the actors have played their parts so wonderfully you almost start believing the father-daughter are indeed Bengalis! The protagonists are ably supported by the side-actors, Moushumi Chatterjee playing the thrice-divorced aunt and not afraid to chide to Bhaskor about his selfishness and critical behavior is like a whiff of fresh air. Irrfan Khan, like always fits under the skin of the UP-Chowdhary with utter ease and plays his part to perfection. His subtle solutions to persistent constipation and his act of squatting make the movie more lovable.

Overall, I hate to admit, but for the first time in my life I was not offended by scatological humor (toilet-humor) which usually puts me off during real-life friendly joke sessions. The ability to deal with a frowned upon topic like this one is such an original yet relevant fashion is indeed commendable and deserves a huge applaud. For portraying a strong independent titular protagonist as a stern, caring and dependable daughter, for teaching the new generation the value of their roots and origins, for demonstrating that having a successful career does not necessarily have to go with shirking your parental responsibilities, I cannot praise the director Mr. Shoojit Sircar and and the writer Ms. Juhi Chaturvedi enough! This is one shitty-movie you have to care some shit about!! Do not miss this constipated tale, even if you have diarrhea! Awesome, awesome movie!!

Aditi’s rating:                4 /5 stars

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