Finding love in the twilight years

'The Kominsky Method' and 'Piku' seem like stories about the people we have always known about

The second season of Netflix’s The Kominsky Method runs dryly compared to the episodes it dropped in its previous edition. This, however, doesn’t mean it’s unfunny. The jokes and the laughs are still there, but there’s a whole lot of mundanity in it now. If that’s how the King of Sitcoms, Chuck Lorre (creator of the show), sees life beyond a certain age, then so be it.

In a show about two ageing men in the field of entertainment, the comedy is definitely going to be centered on health scares, feelings of uneasiness that arise from the lack of companionship, and a general pessimistic view of the world. And if the show is set in Los Angeles, you can expect some digs at Hollywood, too. Sandy (Michael Douglas) and Norman (Alan Arkin) are dealing with their own problems, but they keep each other updated about every little detail of their lives. Norman calls Sandy after a date and asks him if he can spend the night with the woman he had been in a relationship about fifty years ago. And, in another episode, you can see Sandy taking Norman’s help to go to the hospital to get treated for cancer.

This sort of male bonding would have been different if the characters were younger. At the age that Sandy and Norman are in, though, it’s all about making amends as soon as possible and moving on, as there isn’t too much time left for them. The plots in such series are usually character-driven; you’ll remember the names of the characters, and the names of the actors who portrayed them, a decade from now, but it’ll be hard for you to remember the illnesses that Sandy is suffering from. These touches of irreverence in fleshing out a character can be found in Shoojit Sircar’s Hindi film, Piku, as well.

Finding love in the twilight years

In Piku, Bhashkor Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan), freely discusses the nature of his bowel movement with the people who sit beside him during meal times. He isn’t the kind of person that gives a moment to think of the cloud of hesitance surrounding him. And, sometimes, he’ll leave embarrassing messages at his daughter’s (Piku, played by Deepika Padukone) office and wait for her to call him back. Sandy, on the other hand, even after falling down and getting hurt twice, refuses to move into his daughter’s house.

These two men are influenced by their upbringing. In the West, parents and children (if they’re earning) don’t usually live under the same roof; whereas, in India, moving away from the parents’ nest, especially when the older folks are considered patients, is akin to committing a sin. Bhashkor doesn’t want to live away from his daughter. He’s not financially dependent on her. It’s more about the emotional bond, actually. Piku, therefore, doesn’t have much choice. Also, she doesn’t know how to make her dad sit down and put her anger and thoughts on the table. And she doesn’t talk to him about her demands and desires either. She keeps it all in and waits for a miracle to change her life.

If Sandy and Norman are two old men who try to unlearn the tropes of masculinity to fit into today’s world, then Bhashkor is the person that yells, “Rubbish,” and carries on with his work without giving an extra second to hear others’ points of view. Yet, The Kominsky Method and Piku seem like stories about the people we’ve always known about. The politically incorrect jokes – like the one where Sandy asks if a man can be best friends with a woman to which Norman replies that it sounds gay – that are sprinkled throughout the American series might make you feel uncomfortable; heck, you may even question yourself for laughing at the plight of the septuagenarians, but it all ends well, as Lorre – or for that matter Juhi Chaturvedi (writer of Piku) – is only interested in spreading cheers and not melancholy.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 9:16:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/finding-love-in-the-twilight-years/article29972945.ece

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