Piku lacks ambition by Bollywood standards. It’s barely got a mere essence of a story, no conventional hero actor, no lip sync songs, the slightly hint of a love angel, and no “real” drama. Essentially a three-act film, two of these are bookended in two houses. And yet you come away finding the characters strangely relatable and a warm fuzzy feeling of satisfaction washes over you when the lights come on.
There is much to laugh with in the first half as Piku (Deepika Padukone) – a business owner, her father’s caretaker, and leader of a desultory love life – goes about her days with blistering pace, achieving little happiness for herself and barely keeping her irritable and irritating hypochondriac father (Amitabh Bachchan) at bay as he in pursuit of the perfect bowel movement.
Another fascinating aspect about the first half is its sheer energy, always difficult to maintain when set only amongst indoor conversations and dialogue exchanges. That’s cinema for you isn’t it? When a film like Piku feels a lot more – of all things – ‘energetic’ than a film like say, Avengers: The Age of Ultron. Much credit for this may be given to the actors – specifically Deepika and Bachchan – for not allowing their vivacious tempo to slack.
As the film enters into road trip mode, Sircar keeps it short and simple and doesn’t labor over landscape and locations (always tempting in such situations) instead keeping the camera and consequently our focus on the characters. The smallest incidents begin to affects dynamics and the catalyst of change is the cab company owner and inadvertant driver of their car essayed by Irrfan. You can sense their change as little incidents accumulate. It was always going to happen, but rarely has been handled with subtlety. Even the film’s big climatic event just eases in without spectacle.
Props to writer Juhi Chaturvedi for thinking up a simple tale and seeing the potential of a film in it. Shoojit Sircar is quick becoming one of the more versatile and dependable directors in Bollywood and now has three very likable films to his repertoire (let’s just ignore Yahaan for now). Now that he’s got topline stars interested in working with him, there could be interesting developments in the future. Let’s hope he keeps up pushing the envelope as far as themes and content goes. No lack of vision or ambition here.
Hindi, Comic drama, Color