Mumbai,Sarita A Tanwar: Sircar places all his bets on establishing the relationship and the camaraderie between the father and daughter. And well, he turns up with probably the best film we’ve seen on this subject
Directed by: Shoojit Sircar
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan Khan and Moushumi Chatterjee
WHAT’S IT ABOUT:
The new-age films coming out in Bollywood are expanding the parameters of commercial cinema. And in this process, some truly engaging and entertaining films are finding a universal audience. Shoojit Sircar’s Piku is a fine example of the triumph of this process. Piku is the utterly endearing story of Bhaskor Banerjee (Amitabh Bachchan) and his daughter Piku (Deepika Padukone). Bhaskor is a 70-year-old man with myriad moods – his life philosophies are rigid and firm; he is rude and irritating to the point of being eccentric and obsessed with his bowels. Constipation is a subject he loves to discuss, even if it’s on the breakfast and dinner table. Piku loves her father to death, despite all his imperfections. She’s almost allergic to relationships because she’s more concerned about taking care of her dad. And she is her father’s daughter all right – she is nearly as temperamental as him. When Bhaskor and Piku decide to do a road trip from Delhi to Kolkata, the local car rental company’s owner Rana Chaudhary (Irrfan Khan) has no option but to drive them himself after all his drivers refuse to suffer the ordeal. This journey becomes an emotional revelation for them all. As the rest of the film unravels, it focuses on the evolving relationships between the three protagonists and how it changes them all forms the crux of the story.
Sircar’s previous two outings, Vicky Donor and Madras Café, received both commercial and critical acclaim. But Piku is, by far, his finest offering. It is an extremely difficult film to handle. There is no definitive storyline; there are no big surprises in the screenplay; there are no conflicts added for the sake to taking the story forward. Sircar places all his bets on establishing the relationship and the camaraderie between the father and daughter. And well, he turns up with probably the best film we’ve seen on this subject. Constipation, as a subject, is clearly not something that’s easy to digest! But Sircar plays along with it; he makes you laugh with it; he lets you have fun with it. You become so much a part of Bhaskor and Piku’s world that even the intermission seems like an unwanted break. Sircar strikes his masterstroke in the second half – where he makes you cry just as easily as he made you laugh. Piku is a film filled with all the emotions we face and experience in our daily lives – Sircar makes us wonder why we overlooked them all along. Sircar’s other big achievement is making his already-fine actors deliver performances that would feature among their career-best. Deepika is an accomplished performer in her own right but with Piku, she raises the bar even more. Devoid of make-up in the entire film, the actress has never looked and acted better. She gets into the skin of Piku; her every action and reaction is so casual and yet so real. Irrfan Khan has never been utilised better – his dialogues are few but always with the right punches. He holds his own despite not having the author-backed parts. The heart and soul of Piku clearly belong to Amitabh Bachchan who is in his elements. His performance in Piku, without doubt, finds a place among the top 10 in his illustrious career. Be it his Bengali accent, his mannerisms, his rude demeanour or his one-liners, Bachchan is having a jolly good time. And when he does that, it’s hard to keep your eyes on anyone else. And despite the requirements of his character, the pathos he brings to the role in even the subtlest scenes is remarkable. Sircar needs another pat on the back for the rest of the casting too (due credit to casting director Yogi as well) – Moushumi Chatterjee is delightful.
A film like Piku is inventive and unconventional but mainstream. You wish there were some more drama in the second half to elevate it further. However, the performances are so tight that they overpower everything else.
WHAT TO DO:
Piku is one of the best films of the year. It’s a must-watch for the thundering trio of Bachchan, Padukone and Khan.