The only question I wish to ask director Shoojit Sircar on his latest offering, ‘Piku’ is: ‘What was the point, dada?’ After a lot of deliberation I deduce that it was perhaps an informative film on human digestive system set against the backdrop of a ‘sacrificing’ daughter enduring tantrums of her 70-yr. old dad, and falling for a Taxi supplying company’s owner.
There was surely a bout of road movie kind of thing somewhere in between, but am still not sure it’s a road movie. Well, the closest ‘Piku’ can ever get is ‘Delhi Belly’, an out-and-out commercial film. There I get it at last: Piku is the ‘Delhi Belly’ of ‘Art Film’. This means you’d better keep toilet papers handy as there’s a lot of shit or lack thereof you’re going to deal with in its 135 minute flushing oops running time.
The old man, Bhask’o’r Bannerjee played to perfection by Amitabh Bachchan demonstrates some of the best nuances in acting, but certainly feels wasted here. It reminded me of his ‘The Last Lear’ (He had a similar look) directed by late Rituparno Ghosh and makes one wish ‘Piku’ had the similar quality of rich layers in its characters that the audience can unravel, one frame at a time.
Alas, you’re deprived of such indulgences and all you get is shit – Semi-liquid, slight green, yellow shit. The only thing the Bannerjee family discuss on their dining table is shit. The only thing Bhaskar (to hell with ‘o’) Bannerjee wishes for is shit and the only thing Piku can understand about her father is…yup, you guessed it right.
Thankfully, the only sane (and ‘real’) character in the film is Irrfan Khan as Rana Chaudhary, an entrepreneur who quit his job in Saudi and endures a nagging mother and a rude sister. He volunteers to drive the Bannerjee family from Delhi to Kolkata (Including an interesting stopover at Benaras). This journey, at first begins to feel like a breath of fresh air, away from the claustrophobic (and shit-obsessed) Chittaranjan Park home of Piku & family.
Well, like the film, this journey, too, heads nowhere. Every time the Baap-Beti argue with each other over a knife, driving, women empowerment, and yes of course, shit, you cringe in your seat, hoping to see the film head somewhere, perhaps some Finding Fannyish world cinematic’ look or ‘Road, Movie’ arty-farty or NH 10istic deep shit or something – but writer Juhi Trivedi seems to be suffering from a constant constipation of ideas here and the screenplay is strewn with problems that aren’t actually problems – just like Bhaskar Bannerjee’s medical reports.
Cinematographer Kamaljeet Negi lends the film a natural look, especially the interior shots of their ancestral home at Kolkata. An interesting montage of Bhaskar Bannerjee cycling and rediscovering his Calcutta, which has now become Kolkata is cut to perfection by editor Chandrashekhar Prajapati. Music by Anupam Roy sets the tone of the film and gently nudges us with its mellifluous notes woven around well-written lyrics. ‘Journey song’ and ‘Lamhe guzar gaye’ stay with you long after you’ve watched the film.
Hadn’t it been for Irrfan Khan, the ‘outsider’ of Piku’s family, the film would have stuck out as a sore thumb. Well, let’s be real, how long can you tolerate an old guy ranting about his bowel moments and an ‘I act or I don’t, my choice’ actress taking all the shit generously thrown at her?
Actors like Raghubir Yadav and Maushumi Chatterjee make their presence felt, despite brief roles. Watching Maushumi Chatterjee and Amitabh Bachchan in the same frame surely evokes memories of ‘Rimjhim gire saawan’ film by Basu Chatterjee’s, ‘Manzil’.
It’s such a pity we rarely get to see films like Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee films that had an engaging story, even if it was as simple as fooling one’s jeejjjjaajiii (Chupke Chupke) or ‘tumhaare pavitra kahan hai’ boss (Golmaal). So dare you not put ‘Piku’ on the pedestal of such gems of the yore. We’re not there yet.
As an audience, you expect something that emotionally charges you up, but you end up enduring a film that is clearly a ‘motional attyachaar’. Shoojit Sircar’s film ‘Piku’ is indeed a classic example of much ado about nothing.It’s a constantly constipated film, which could have well been called ‘Poo-ku’. Flush.