From the time I watched the promos of Shoojit Sircar’s new film Piku, I was in a quandary. Should I watch the film or just avoid it? The reasons to watch were many. I had loved Sircar’s first two films- Vicky Donor and Madras Café; plus the casting of Big B, Deepika and Irrfan was an enticing prospect. But the heavy dose of toilet humor in the promos was something that was telling me strongly to avoid it. Well, I am glad that I still went ahead and watched the film!
What’s the plot?
Piku (Deepika Padukone) is a Delhi-based working woman nearing thirty. She is moody, hot tempered, ill-mannered and still single. The root of all her problems is her cranky, seventy year old, widowed father (Amitabh Bachchan), who never loses an opportunity to gloat over his Bengali roots; who finds faults with everything and whose world revolves around animated discussions about his chronic constipation! Despite getting constantly worked up about all his attention-seeking selfish hypochondriac behavior, the daughter dutifully looks after him. Giving in to his wish, she even agrees to go with him on a road trip to Kolkata to visit their ancestral home.
Since no taxi driver is willing to go with the ill-tempered Piku, the harassed taxi company owner (Irrfan)-himself a member of a dysfunctional family- decides to drive them to their destination. The long journey from Delhi to Kolkata will bring together these three individuals in more ways than one could ever imagine!
· Shoojit Sircar has made a delightful, utterly believable slice of life movie about a number of dysfunctional individuals. He has carefully shunned melodrama.
· The Bengali family ambience is authentically captured.
· The dialogues are cutting edge, witty and humorous throughout.
· Amitabh Bachchan has played many cranky old men in recent past but his role here is a class act. His Bhaskar Bannerji is a self-absorbed quirky old Bengali man with many fixations-(none bigger than the one about his bowel emptying!) who has an acid tongue, a generalized deep distrust and a total dependence on his daughter.
· Deepika Padukone plays the fiercely independent, inwardly frustrated and yet strangely indulgent daughter to perfection. It is one of her best roles till date.
· Despite getting a shorter role, Irrfan scores big time. It is his character which brings a touch of sanity in the madhouse happenings. His deadpan expressions are a riot!
· The side-characters too make an impression and especially it is good to see Moushumi Chatterji spiritedly playing Big B’s quarrelsome sister-in-law.
· There is no coherent story as such for the film.
· The relationships of the main characters could have been explored better to give a powerful emotional impact.
· Music is used merely as filler and no song stays in memory.
· The lack of commercial elements and a focus on toilet humor can prove a dampener for many.
Piku is an interesting and realistic peek into the world of some quirky, dysfunctional individuals. It manages to keep you in splits with some insightful observations about day-to-day happenings in normal (or should I say normally abnormal?) lives. Great performances and superb dialogues make it a winsome film, particularly if you enjoy films away from typical Bollywood fare.