Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Deepika Padukone, Moushmi Chatterjee, Jisshu Sengupta, Raghuvir Yadav, Balendra Singh
Director: Shoojit Sircar
One hardly expects to be rewarded with warmth and genuine sweetness from a film about a cantankerous old man and his exasperated grown-up daughter who spend most of their time arguing about his bowel movements. But Piku, directed by Shoojit Sircar, is a charming, unpredictable comedy that – like Sircar’s Vicky Donor – mines humor from the unlikeliest of places.
Deepika Padukone is Piku, a successful architect struggling to manage both her career and the responsibility of her 70-year-old father Bhashkor Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan), who can be quite the handful. The cranky Bengali senior is a hypochondriac, and also happens to be perpetually constipated. His motions, or lack thereof, are the subject of virtually every conversation in their Chittaranjan Park home. He’s obsessed with details of the color, the texture, the size, and the consistency of his poop, which he insists on sharing with his daughter even when she’s at work or out on a date.
Bachchan is pretty terrific as Bhashkor, who reminds you of that oddball uncle that you nevertheless have a soft spot for. He bickers with the maids, harrows his hapless helper, and expects that Piku stay unmarried so she can attend to him. At one point, to ward off a possible suitor, he casually mentions that his daughter isn’t a virgin; that she’s financially independent and sexually independent too. Bachchan embraces the character’s many idiosyncrasies, never once slipping into caricature while all along delivering big laughs thanks to his spot-on comic timing.
Also bringing his best game to the film is Irrfan Khan as Rana Chowdhary, the owner of a private taxi company who volunteers to drive Piku and her father all the way from Delhi to Kolkata when the old man insists on visiting his ancestral home. The film takes the shape of a road-trip movie from this point on, and it’s Khan – applying his trademark dry humor – who gets some of the best moments here. Amused by Bhashkor’s fixation on his tummy issues, Rana explains the merits of squatting on a Western-style toilet, and in another hilarious scene draws out the entire digestive route of food for a fascinated Bhashkor.
But it’s with the character of Piku that writer Juhi Chaturvedi pushes the envelope farthest, giving us a fully flesh-and-blood modern woman. Unembarrassed to admit she has sexual needs, unafraid to pursue a casual relationship with a colleague, and never shy of snapping back at her patience-testing father, Piku is a refreshing character in the movies, and Padukone plays her without a hint of artifice. It’s a performance that never feels like a performance; she’s that good in the film.
Into this richly layered script, Chaturvedi sneaks pertinent questions about ageing, the shifting dynamics of responsibility between parent and offspring, and the line between duty and sacrifice. Sircar keeps a breezy, light-hearted tone throughout, infusing a hint of humor even in the decidedly emotional bits. He surrounds his leads with strong supporting players (including a feisty Moushmi Chatterjee as Piku’s thrice-divorced aunt), and shoots relatively long conversation scenes in a manner that feels real and honest and unaffected.
I’m going with four out of five for Piku. Although obsessed with all the wrong body parts, it’s a film that’s full of heart.Tags: Amitabh Bachchan Critics Reviews Deepika Padukone Irfan Khan Piku Rajeev Masand Reviews Shoojit Sircar
Piku Movie Review by Anupama Chopra
Review: A letter to Piku, gem of a film!
by SUKANYA posted on MAY 8, 2015
I don’t know if I’m writing to you or to the movie that’s named after you. Perhaps both.
Everything about you and your precious relationships spoke to me, stirred me and I wish you could hear how deeply you touched me. Never thought I’d feel this way about a script that’s punctuated in toilet talk.
But as soon as the monochrome opening credits (with just a spot of red) begin to roll against the sound of sublime strings (Anupam Roy’s delightful score), it instinctively felt right, like interpreting a map correctly, like knowing a treasure awaits.
In the beginning, all of you appear so harried, so high-strung. The daily clamour of domestic dealings, a chaotic Delhi-based Bengali household and people not quite in sync, it is far from a good morning but it is home, it is familiar.
The commotion isn’t new to you; I could tell — when you didn’t mix your coloured laundry with your whites while dumping a lot in the washing machine.
Amidst all this stood the unyielding source of all the pandemonium and flying tempers, grumbling about his perpetual bowel issues. But, hey, he’s your daddy and parents become like that.
They annoy you even as you bark over an elevator kept on hold while they leisurely finish hitting the loo and gulping down one last glass of water before leaving the house, embarrass you by making that strictly private conversation public in front of colleagues and paying no heed to your surreptitiously poking finger and drive you crazy by their incessant ability to over pack.
Your irritation is understandable. One of the most heart-breaking things in life is to watch your parents age, the unexpected transition from being taken care of to taking care. Especially when you have just one left.
It’s a strange, inexplicable realisation that no child wants to come to terms with — when they can’t hear you properly, when you have to explain them things like you would to a child, when those alert, agile feet become slow, when the truth about ‘forever’ is more uncomfortable than ever. It’s almost as if they betrayed you by getting old.
Amazing how you convey this fear in your exasperation, Piku. Having said that, I must commend on how wonderfully you handle a hypochondriac, homeopathic-pills popping father whose every single dinner table talk, no exception for his deceased wife’s birthday celebration even, is a mishmash of salt and shit.
Also, that shade card jibe over his poop obsession is SO funny.
Lovingly penned by Juhi Chaturvedi and seamlessly directed by Shoojit Sircar, Piku moves at a life-like pace and cares to be a little more than a father-daughter chronicle.
All the characters – the dedicated domestic help, the family doctor, the extended family, the potential suitors, the petrified drivers, Piku, her constipation-ridden father Bhashkor Banerjee and one timely-intervention in the form of Rana ‘Not A Bengali’ Chaudhary running a cab service — are so distinctly fleshed out, they express a unique identity but form a fluent chemistry that’s both tangible and frothy.
And though its essence and ambiance is undoubtedly Bengali, Piku’s sentiments aren’t pigeonholed in cultural excessiveness, they speak in a language outside it and quite vigorously too. Like Irrfan Khan’s Rana puts it, “Sab cheezein Bengali ka copyright nahi hai.”
Introducing Rana into the plot peels off the layers around Piku and Bhashkor’s relationship as well as the individual.
Demonstrating exemplary patience in driving them by road from Delhi to Kolkata, he is not only drawn to their mercuriality but also becomes an unlikely source of breakthrough. It’s the sort of trust he knows he’ll never inspire in his own turbulent family. Because, no matter how much quirk Piku celebrates, there are parents and there are parents.
Irrfan Khan conveys the composure, amusement and, on few occasions, vexation of his character with such awe-inspiring know-how, Piku would be half the film it is in his absence.
Travel throws us out of routine, reveals more about a person, to strangers, to oneself and Piku captures this discovery with refreshing spontaneity. And so when Howrah Bridge makes its first appearance, it’s not just a landmark to underscore destination arrival but a symbol of a connection that’s been forged between the three through the course of the journey.
I loved how Rana’s equation with you gradually develops during the same. How gently your guard drops and you open up into this tender girl finding a substitute to conventional life – marriage, children — in half a dozen glass bangles. Or when you flash a rare smile to admire your drunk, dancing daddy.
Your Piku is not very expressive and holds back her emotions but she’s only defending herself against hurt, because she loves so much. It’s a tough contradiction that Deepika Padukone does beautiful justice to even when slyly fulfilling her endorsement duties in smartly planted product placements.
Still, setting Piku in perfect, erm, motion is Amitabh Bachchan. Casting him in this role is a masterstroke for many reasons. There’s so much visible relish in the manner he portrays the candid-to-the-point-of-offensive Bhashkor.
PikuTossing bits of Bangla every now and then, making faces that reveal a child all the wrinkles and greys in the world cannot hide, the wonderment he exercises through his long-serving artistry dazzles more than ever.
Having grown up on his heroic fits of wronged or constructive rage to watching him, as the petulant septuagenarian who won’t budge in Piku is part of the emotional transition a child feels for his parent. It’s an incredibly special viewer-movie star bond, one that cannot be summed up without sounding cheesy.
The conclusion tugs the heartstrings even more so because of the vulnerability it triggers but mostly because how attached you become.
I grew so fond of your world in just two hours that I cannot stop missing it. Neither should the audience. I hope they can savour your sweetness, simplicity as well as laugh at your tummy troubles like I have. I hope they understand the thoughtful life’s lessons you impart through your light-hearted banter.
Thank you, Team Piku. It’s been a pleasure knowing you.