Director: Shoojit Sircar | Year: 2015

Just came back from Piku.

While trying to get myself a glass of water I noticed the expensive single malt ( Oban) that my nephew-in-law had bought when he came visiting, on the shelf. I normally do not drink when alone. But I thought I must pour myself small one. This called for a celebration certainly. So many of  my cinematic heroes had come good of late.

First off the block was Vishal Bhardwaj was  ‘Haider’ which I have seen thrice in the theater and once on the DVD and it still haunts me. Sridhar Raghavn surprised me with ‘ Badlapur’ which again calls for multiple viewing. Then Navdeep Singh came up with gut-wrenching ‘NH-10’, which I have seen twice in the theater. Anurag Kashyap gave a good account of himself in the unsettling ‘Ugly’.  Hirani said what needed to be said with ‘PK’…and I had to see it twice to be sure. And yes he had lost none of his artistic integrity in a bid to entertain. Then just last week I saw ‘ OK Kanmani’…and lo! Mani Ratnam was back. And what a relief that was! But I saw it one more time in the theatre, just to be sure. And yes, Mani was as young, playful, cinematically eloquent and full of love for humanity as he was at his peak. And now there is Shoojit Sircar and ‘Piku’.

Piku 1

Just like ‘ OK Kanmani’ there is not much happening. But each moment is so lovingly written, so well staged and so perfectly performed that you do not want to take your eyes (and ears) off the screen for a moment lest you miss something. Ah…the women in Bollywood! Where do you get all that talent from? Juhi Chaturvedi, take a bow! It is  your writing which makes it all come off so well on screen. And Shoojit knows how to stage ‘funny’ on screen. I loved the humour in Vicky Donor. He manages to do with shit what he did with sperm in the earlier one. It’s the nice to see that Shoojit can get a big laugh by just the installation art of the chair-commode tied on top of the Innova. Shoojit also does quirky well. And here he has two masters of the quirk, Amitabh and Irrfan, to dance out his quirkography. I loved the tableau of Amitabh and irrfan sitting on a culvert on the highway, outside the Innova, Irrfan holding the knife in his hand. ‘ Why don’t you just throw it away?’ Deepika / Piku  says. Irrfan/Rana  looks at the knife for a while , looks at Piku, and throws it. There are many moments like this that Irrfan nails with his impeccable timing. Amitabh, after a long time, is a character that reminds you of no other Amitabh you have seen before. He is over the top. His accent keeps slipping. And he looks much older than the 70 he is supposed to be. But he too becomes the quirky Bhaskor Banerjee with his singular views on marriage being for women with low IQs and his announcing to the world that his daughter is not a virgin and his essentially selfish manipulation of his daughter for his own well-being. He makes us buy in to his character and we share his sheer delight as he bikes  through the streets of Kolkata  towards the end of the film.

And what of Deepika and her radiant presence? If I write how I felt about her in the film you might think I am in love with her.Come to think about it, maybe I am in love with her. Any way let me talk about Piku instead. What a character Juhi Chaturvedi has written. She is a totally heroic modern woman, her heroism manifested in her grace under pressure. She knows the essentially selfish and manipulative nature of her father, but she says, ‘We don’t judge our parents’.  She is doing the best she can , blancing her work, her household duties, and if she needs the help of her part-time lovers to get by, she will take them on her stride. As Irrfan/Rana says in his inimitable deadpan style ‘ Aap to ..jaise aapke papa kehte the..unki tarah ho gayi..annie Besant, Rani Lakshmi Bai…mahan aurat.”

Piku 2

The relationship between Ran and Piku is written so well. And so is the detailing of Irrfan’s family, his sister, his mother, and his Saudi background. It adds so much texture to the tale. And yes, Shoojit is so good in bringing out the natural manly charms of noth-Indian men, with all their aggression and lack of fine culture, pitted against the at-times-pretentious but always pompous cultural snobbery of the Bengalis ( Amitabh introduces Irrfan as the non-Bengali Chaudhury.) He did it with the Ayushman Khurana character in Vicky Donor,and he does it with Irrfan / Rana here.

And yes, how can I forget? The music. I was bowled over by it. The songs were exquisite. And the words, even in Hindi, managed to retain the expressionistic freshness that we know Anupam’s Bengali lyrics for. The background score too was top-notch, with a very catchy Indian strings hook that propels the story at a pleasant, comfortable pace.

Ps: I have poured myself another small one of the single malt. Maybe I will write something on Ok Kanmani now.

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