What ‘Piku’ Taught Me About Feminism

Posted on May 22, 2015 in Culture-Vulture

By Kruti Joshi:

Marriage without purpose is low IQ“. This is a quote that stuck with me through my two hour experience of watching ‘Piku‘.

piku

The Deepika Padukone-Amitabh Bachchan starrer was a refreshing take on the relationship between the elderly and their carers. It is a very relatable story for a person like me who lives with three generations under the same roof. But I am not sitting on the floor at the foot of my bed with my legs stretched out to talk about the film or its story line – I am not a film expert and won’t pretend to be one. It’s the masterstroke of Amitabh Bachchan’s dialogues sprinkled throughout the duration of the movie that caught me off guard, and pleasantly so.

While Bachchan’s constipation-oriented character seems not-so-easy to live with, what is enduring is his attitudes towards women and their role in society. While, he loved his wife, he did not fancy her change in attitude after marriage, which was to dedicate herself in pleasing her husband. The anecdotes serve as the backbone to one of his catchphrases – “marriage without purposes is low IQ“.

Following the interval, there is another scene that demonstrates the character’s belief that men and women serve as equals in the society. This scene is set in Kolkata, where Bachchan is standing in the courtyard of his ancestral home with his younger brother reminiscing about his childhood, with the younger brother’s wife at work in the background. The conversation leads Bachchan asking her why she had not taken up a job offer she had received in her earlier days. To which, she looks down and mumbles, “Because my salary would have been more than my husband’s“. Bachchan’s character promptly replies: “So?

This reply isn’t in a condescending tone. It’s rather in an encouraging tone. Why does a woman have to lurk in the shadows of a male in the relationship?

Beyond the aged character, who is quirky, agitating, adorable, stubborn, and loving, what stood out the most is his well-advanced attitude towards women and their role in the society. The movie, obviously, is not about that, but it is a genius addition by Juhi Chaturvedi, the story and screenplay writer of the film, and director Shoojit Sircar to present it in the way that is has been – not confronting but not easily forgotten either.

The release of the film is also very timely for Padukone in terms of raising awareness about social issues, with her coming out about her personal battle with depression a few months ago. The message of gender equality in the society adds to her recent candid interview with NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, which was aimed at raising awareness about the seriousness of depression.

While there is a lot of talk about gender equality in the society, I do not really see the change. There is still a dominant attitude of men being superior to women. A lot of young males are still not comfortable with the idea of their future wives earning more than they do because the idea of men being the breadwinners is so etched into our minds. This is not to say that there are no men who support the women in their lives to succeed. But, the attitude needs to be more dominant.

This is not going to happen with a blink of an eye, or overnight. It’s a long hard battle, and like Gandhi once said: “Be the change you want to see.

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