Piku is a slice of life movie. No larger than life characters. No intricate plots. No foreign locales. No item numbers. No nacho gaana (song and dance). Yet despite the missing usual ingredients for a masala potboiler that guarantees box office success, Piku pulls a string in hearts of audiences across demographics. Partly due to the comedic situations that Bachchan’s characters’s bowels pose but mostly because of the down to earth banter that takes place between all the characters.
Amitabh plays the semi-senile hypochondriac Bhaskor Banerjee with a penchant for segueing every conversation toward his bowel movements. You would think that the constant talk of his potty situation might gross you out but it is simply hilarious.
Deepika, as the daughter and protagonist Piku, does an equally brilliant job at her portrayal of a headstrong independent new age daughter. That Piku is her father’s daughter is resonated in her temper and demeanour. The father-daughter dynamic works quite well between the veteran and the starlet.
Mind you, despite a major chunk of the moving dealing with the inner workings of Bhaskor’s digestive system, the humour is not the crass variety which is common fare among the slapstick comedy genre of the Indian small screen or Rohit Shetty movies. In fact it is absolutely delightfully familial in its rendition making the story and the humour of Piku a truly family movie.
To me the story felt like a realisation fable. Piku loves her father but hates his constant hypochondriac tantrums. Yet she lovingly puts up with them and even caters to his whims. Her father’s rather eccentric demeanour causes for a number of awkward and frustrating situations. Yet despite all the trouble that her father lands her in, Piku stands by his side and adores him and is willing to let her personal life take a back seat to ensure he is looked after and comfortable. In many ways Piku is a reflection of her father. And she embraces that reflection with open arms towards the end of the movie.
Irrfan’s character is another well written one. He represents a different point of view on the topic of parents and the relationship children share with them as the years pass by. As the chauffeur by circumstance for the Banerjees (he ends up driving them as none of the drivers at his cab company are willing to put up with Piku’s temper) on the 1500 km road trip to Kolkata he essentially provides an outsider’s perspective on the dynamic between Piku and her father and is the voice of reason during the many verbal spats between the father daughter duo.
The chemistry between Deepika and Irrfan may seem awkward at first but I think it captures the sentiment of real world relationships. After all in the movie they are shown as acquaintances who have a common friend and each has a bone to pick with the other. Immediate attraction would have felt like a farce. Additionally the movie never states that the two are a couple at any point in time. Thus allowing the focus to remain on the father daughter dynamic.
What impressed me about Piku is that the screenplay isn’t dumbed down for the masses. The story doesn’t spend any time trying to explain the background of situations or establish a prologue or setting of the story and characters. It assumes that the audience is smart enough to piece together the elements that are laid in front of them and establish the connections and backgrounds.
Another aspect of the movie that impressed me was the simplicity and realism. Despite being a story about a financially well-off family there aren’t any opulent sets or mega brand names being name dropped during the movie unlike a Karan Johar flick.
In one of the reviews I read the critic mentioning that Piku captured the freshness and light-hearted essence of the Hrishikesh Mukherjee films. I tend to agree with that comment. Despite all the friction and emotional angst that our characters experience throughout the journey of the story, not once does it feel to overpower the general sense of feel good narrative and light hearted core of the story.
To me Piku was a popcorn flick cum slice of life film cum heartfelt family dramedy all rolled into one. Shoojit Sircar has stayed faithful to his style of movie making and ensured that casting high profile celebs does not corrupt his beautiful story telling. Piku is a definite must watch!