Piku

A lot of things about Piku will convince you that it’s the story of your family. The hypochondriac Bhaskor Banerjee (Bachchan) who unabashedly allows his constipation to dictate his life, Piku (Padukone) who seems to understand it yet dismisses it like most of us would, maids who don’t want to work in your home because of crazy old father who blames them for stealing phenoyl even as the maid notes that there are expensive gadgets lying around.

Like in Finding Fanny, the house is unkempt; clothes strewn about and table cluttered. I am not sure if it’s only the proximity with our own unkempt houses that makes it endearing to watch. It definitely doesn’t help that she looks gorgeous and her clothes are perfect and she is trying to balance a career and an eccentric home. The father-daughter are a funny pair, but only to us. Everybody else in the movie is used to him and her and their verbal fits. Even Rana (Khan) who is new to their madness, and comes from a family he would be thrilled to disown, doesn’t take much time to absorb them. And this, I am guessing is because so much of their private life is made visible to everybody who has an answer to constipation.

When they drive to Calcutta, they carry their home with them. The simhasan (Banerjee’s mobile commode) tied to the carrier of the Innova is proof of this. If you are the kind, who when they meet new weird people, think of how brilliant it would be to lock them up in a room with somebody else who is weirder, then you are going to be laughing throughout the movie. The writer is a sadist bastard who plays such a trick. The challenge that the movie throws onto itself therefore is, who drives whom mad.

And that is a question with a lot of potential because you wouldn’t expect Bhaskor Banerjee to take kindly to younger men who are capable of hitting on his daughter and you are right, he doesn’t. He doles out rebuttals to strangers’ faces and keeps at it with a fervor that is far more ferocious than Piku’s silence. ‘She is financially independent and not a virgin (no Piku?)’

But sadly, you don’t care about whether this disarms Rana or not because by then the movie itself doesn’t care and has moved on to other things. Thanks to Banerjee’s growing discontent with his constipation and the relief of stereotype, the movie does not slip dangerously into the Baghban syndrome. The capacity for this seems to have been exhausted when Piku casually mentions in a conversation with Rana that she cannot leave her father. It is in these moments that one begins to notice the risks that the movie takes without faltering into a love story or a bitter- sweet family drama. It is neither. Put simply, it is a greatly written movie because it attempts to surprise itself by continuously expanding the capacity of its characters in humorous situations.

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