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Piku: For the motion

A slice of life that deals with the practical difficulties in loving your aging parents in a light-hearted, feel good way, Piku is a progressive piece of cinema that brings the parent back into the picture. It is a kind of film you can watch with your parents without one questioning the taste of the other. It is a difficult balance to achieve in these times when our cinema is increasingly getting segmented but director Shoojit Sircar and writer Juhi Chaturvedi have found unalloyed fun in a modern-day father-daughter relationship which hasn’t made much progress since “Babul ki duaein leti ja….”

No, he is not in a hurry to marry her off. Nor does he want to curb her professional freedom and is even fine with her sexual independence. A single parent Bhaskar Banerjee is a different animal as far as Hindi cinema is concerned. So is Piku. An architect, Piku (Deepika) has constructed her own nest. She loves to take care of her father despite his fixation with motion. She has a well-meaning friend (Jishu Sengupta) to fulfil her hormonal urge but she is looking for an emotional anchor, who will accept her father as he is.

Juhi has taken help of a stereotypical image of Bengalis as slightly more enlightened than the rest of us to make them palatable before the penny drops. Bhaskar’s (Amitabh Bachchan) pivotal concern is his bowel movement. A hypochondriac, he is always looking for an ailment to get the attention of his daughter Piku. The detailing with which the motion has been discussed threatens to raise a stink but it ends up lending the film a unique flavour.



Piku

Genre:Drama
Director:Shoojit Sircar
Cast:Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan, Moushumi Chatterjee
Bottomline:A light-hearted and unassuming take on times when parents face the danger of becoming orphans in old age.


Bhaskar feels a woman who marries only to serve her husband is a low IQ person and doesn’t want his daughter to fall into a trap which her mother and aunt – the previous generation – happily accepted. Is he feeding this point of view to his daughter for selfish reasons? Shoojit leaves it open for debate.

In comes Rana (Irrfan), who runs a taxi service. He has a mother at home and could understand where Piku is coming from. The turn of events put the three together on a journey to Kolkata and we get some interesting observations and gentle nudges at some constipated ideas. There are no big obstacles in place and Shoojit is in no mood for a dramatic turn of events. The idea is to explore rather than reach a destination. Still there is no dull moment in the company of actors who are in sync with the sensibilities of the written material.

Like Vicky Donor, the earlier collaboration of Juhi and Shoojit, the film makes interesting comments on the prejudices that we carry about communities and careers. It nudges at the model of development and relationships that the young are espousing. The film gently asks do roots have a value once the plant becomes self sufficient.

It is fun but when you are laughing you know that the film is touching a raw nerve of the society. Piku and Bhaskar may be a little hyper, imperfect but they are glorious exceptions in a society where the old and ailing are being put into a corner and daughters are raised only to light up somebody else’s house. Where the young live in a bubble that they will never grow old. Early in the film Piku says she doesn’t want to grow old. Does she have time for it? The humour is so organic and everyday like that it feels like Juhi and Shoojit have recorded scenes from our lives. We often don’t realise how everyday situations are so funny unless an outsider makes us see the mirror. On the surface the film rests on the fights between Piku and Bhaskar but it never gets irritating. Juhi has humanised not only lead characters but even the maid and drivers come alive with her deft detailing of language, backdrop and emotions. So much so that you don’t mind numerous brand placements that come across through the course of the journey.

Amitabh Bachchan has approached Bhaskar Banerjee without the baggage of the mega star that he is resulting in it becoming one of his most internalised performances. The scene where he breaks into an impromptu dance after a few pegs is in itself worth the ticket price. As the girl in control of her life and emotions, Deepika lets her expressive eyes do most of the talking and matches the stalwarts in every frame. She inhales the author-backed part and assimilates it in her personality. For Irrfan it is perhaps a way to recover from the turmoil of Qissa. His disarming simplicity gives the film an earthy texture. The scene where Irrfan and Deepika talk while gorging on rolls is one of the most unaffected conversations that I have seen in recent times on screen. Moushumi Chatterjee and Jishu Sengupta make endearing contributions from the sidelines making it an absorbing experience.

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Printable version | Nov 20, 2020 10:43:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/piku-for-the-motion/article7184772.ece

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