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Film Review: Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Piku’

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By Riti Das Dhankar

Shoojit Sircar’s Piku is sheer magic in the way it captures ordinary life. It’s a sensitive portrayal of a father-daughter relationship. The magic in the movie comes from the brutal honesty and deep love that the duo shares for each other, despite being in an unenviable situation. It is a traditional yet modern Bengali story: traditional in its essence and portrayal of a typical Bengali household; modern in its representation of an independent woman and the choices she makes.

Apart from the father-daughter pair, what strikes us about the film is an authentic Bengali backdrop. By setting the film in a Bengali cultural milieu, the movie wallows in effortless humor. Watching Piku was a treat to my half Bengali self (the other half is Jaat from my father’s side). Bengalis by nature and instinct are anything but docile. Bengalis are a passionate, loud, and untamed species. By loud, I mean LOUD!  From my own experiences with the passionate Bengali side of the family, I found the movie hilariously accurate. In a Bengali household, most of the discussions end without any logic. For them it’s either my way or no way at all (forget about the highway). At the same time, these emotionally charged people have their heart in the right place and, in fact, are a very sensitive lot.

Piku is a working girl, independent, vocal, snappy, borderline rude, and definitely hyper. She lives with her father and takes care of his nonexistent illnesses, which he cleverly uses to elicit constant attention from his daughter.  Piku’s father’s insecurities make him appear like a grown-up child.  He perpetually complains about the quality of the stool he passes or is unable to pass on days when he has constipation. Somehow, it appears each and every topic in the universe is directly linked to the digestive tract. This is no surprise either. It is just another typical Bengali trait. Each and every Bengali family takes great pleasure in talking about their motion (to put it more mildly).

While I was watching this movie, to my surprise, I didn’t see Amitabh Bachchan or Deepika Padukone even for a single moment. All I saw was a fiery Piku and her grumpy, insecure, clever, and bigmouthed father. Amitabh Bachchan has acted the part so well that every child with an irritating father can completely identify with his role. Deepika is excellent in the role of a feisty Bong girl, who has no qualms in calling a spade a spade. Both the actors have proved their mettle in this cinematic delight and come out with flying colors.

The humor in the movie is not loud. It is subtle. Almost every humorous incident is situational and linked to human emotions. That is another brilliant aspect in the movie. The movie captures emotions in such minute details that the audience can immediately connect to the characters and find themselves immersed in the story unfolding before them. The perspectives of an old man, who refuses to allow any other male near his daughter, and that of a daughter, who loves her father deeply in spite of being irritated by him to the limit,  are both portrayed magnificently. This movie proves that humor  could be found in a simple look or in a father’s reaction  on seeing a man talking to his daughter or a daughter scolding the father for drinking and dancing and, then, falling sick. In this movie, humor is a part of everyday being, a part of our existence. The most serious subjects are handled with great maturity and that maturity doesn’t come with being serious and grave. Rather, that maturity comes with understanding the brighter side of life.

Shoojit Sircar’s Piku is a refreshing change from the typical Bollywood movies one watches these days. It is also very believable. Being made by a Bong has only added to its sense of authenticity. If one were to install a spy cam in a Bengali household, the people would be seen talking and reacting as it exactly happens in this movie.

The moral questions the movie raises and the parent-child relationship have not been paid attention to by our film industry. Calling this movie worth a watch would be underestimating the effect it has on one’s mind. This movie should be seen and understood for improving one’s own self in order to become a better person.

Riti Das Dhankar is a freelance writer. She is doing her PhD in Psychology from Jaipur, where she completed her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

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