For a movie that is full of toilet humour, Shoojit Sarcar’s movie ‘Piku‘ is far from being an inelegant tale of a father-daughter relationship.
The movie explores the relationship dynamics between a man and his daughter. Piku, played by Deepika Padukone is an independent woman who is as temperamental as her father. Bhaskor (Amitabh Bachchan) is an eccentric 70 year old man whose favourite topic of discussion is his constipation problem. What we have is a family drama consisting of lengthy conversation about Bhaskor’s poop, in all its forms.
So dependent is Bhaskor on his daughter that he discourages her from getting married. He even calls her while she’s on a date just to give her a vivid description of his poop. He asserts that his daughter is a professionally and sexually independent woman who doesn’t need to get married in order to live her life. He is protective of her when there’s another man in the picture. He is selfish to the point that he demands all her attention.
Woven with the story of Piku and Bhaskor is the theme of death and poop, romanticized to the point that all of Bhaskor’s philosophy revolves around the two. The mornings at their Chittranjan Park residence start with a discussion on Bhaskor’s routine in the loo. The Bengali-ness, if you will, presents itself in the way they talk about their blood pressure, food and of course, constipation.
Another character that stands out in the movie is that of Moushumi Chatterjee, who plays Piku’s thrice divorced aunt. She is a bubbly and talkative woman who means well but can often be too much to handle. Her banter with her brother in-law Bhaskor are funny and entertaining, but at the same time deal with real issues like marriage and death.
The real drama starts when Bhaskor insists on going back to his native land Kolkata, by road. Because of Piku’s intimidating demeanor, the driver decides not to show up leading to the owner of the cab company, Rana Choudhary, to come to the rescue. Rana, played by Irfaan Khan, doesn’t know what he has gotten himself into and what ensues is a captivating emotional rollercoaster.
There is a lot of drama in the movie – all surrounding the loo. Bhaskor’s makeshift commode/chair is a constant symbol of the basic human need to shit. For a movie replete with scatological references, the movie, surprisingly, is never crass or leaves you disgusted. It is, on the contrary, a simple and sweet story that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy for your loved ones.
Deepika Padukone as Piku is a revelation. She is convincing as a Bengali woman, she gets the accent right and her performance is not overdone or complicated. She gets the subtleties of real life situations just right. Playing the role of Piku, might be the best thing she could have done at this point in her career. She is a strong female character, temperamental at times but fiercely feminine at that. She is an epitome of the modern Indian women. She is not ashamed to admit that she has sexual needs, is good at her job, and puts across her points passionately. Bhaskor lives vicariously through his daughter; as long as he is her main priority, there can be no space for another man in her life.
Amitabh Bachchan’s performance in the movie tells you that he is having a good time with the role of Bhaskor. The hunched back, the paunch, the moody demeanor and his Bengali-ness, all contribute to making this movie truly an engaging one. ‘Piku‘ may well be among his best performances in his long and illustrious career of really good movies. Irfaan Khan may have lesser dialogues than Padukone or Bachchan but he manages to stand out nonetheless. He compliments the other two.
Juhi Chaturvedi has written a very simple yet engaging story. She has captured the essence of a family drama through simple conversations at the dinner table or on a road trip. Shoojit Sarcar’s direction takes the cake for bringing out the best from his actors and evoking the pathos of the audience through well placed humor and stellar performances.
Watch this movie if you want a taste of what really happens in an Indian household, not the cheesy and cute picture that is often presented by conventional Bollywood movies.