When I first saw Piku, I enjoyed it but recently I’ve had a new-found love for it. The more I watch the film, the more things I realize in it that bring forth the exquisite story telling capability of the filmmaker. What’s valuable in this film, is what happens between the lines, the small nuances, the deep messages found in grouchy daily remarks of a Bengali father and daughter household.
I’m sure you’ve seen Piku already, it’s grabbed most of the awards and even won Deepika the best actress award. But I’m urging you to see the film again, calmly, slowly, paying attention to the words and expressions. You will discover far more than you saw at the first instance.
Take the moment when Piku makes a sour face and a sound of disgust at the dinner table while her father is describing how Elvis Presley died of constipation. Watch that moment again and see that she didn’t make the sour face to her father’s comment but rather because of the sour yogurt she had tasted in that moment. I love how the characters in this film are not sorry for who they are and how they live. So they discuss bowel movements every day, at home, at the office, even at dinner. Although Piku is always complaining about her father’s non-stop tantrums about bowel movements, or more precisely, lack thereof, one also sees the immensely strong bond between them. Piku and Bhaskor da– Deepika and Amitabh Bachchan have truly identified with one another as father and daughter in these characters.
I love how family is portrayed in this film. The meaning of family is not that everyone will always get along and everything will always be perfect. The meaning of family is that the fights and disagreements will happen, but family members will not give up on each other and will continue to support one another. Piku gets tired of her father’s tantrums but she is not willing to live a life separate from her father. And Piku’s aunt and father, despite being clearly cross with one another, they are always together and always discussing different issues. She even follows them to Calcutta, much to Bhoskar da’s disappointment! And we also get to see Bengali culture in the film, a Bengali word here or there, foods and some sights of Calcutta.
One other message in this film is how family members hurt one another unintentionally. Like how Piku was hurt when her father talked about virginity with a potential prospect at aunt’s wedding anniversary. Or when Piku makes fun of her father’s bum cleaning practices in front of other family members in Calcutta. They were both hurt by one another’s words in these circumstances, but neither said anything.
Perhaps more than anything else, this film is about roots– about holding on to our roots and cherishing them, as Piku learned to do at the end of the film, symbolized by her sudden change of mind about selling their ancestral home. We all need our roots, and our families. They are our identity and what keeps us firmly rooted and stable through life.
And what about the amazingly frank and direct statements of Bhaskor da throughout the movie, who is by the way, quite the feminist in support of women’s financial and sexual independence . “We are critical people” he says and goes on to say things like:
Piku: I’m not saying I want to take a long holiday but maybe just for a day or two I can go somewhere..
Mosi: Piku’s right. Every normal person needs a break, relaxation is needed in life.
Bhoskar da: Nonesense.. in their own homes, on their own bed, with their own family, they won’t be relaxed… spending on a train, on a plane, will go to a hotel and sleep on other people’s used bed, that is relaxation. These travel companies are at fault, it’s all in the mind.
Piku: Aap log ice cream khayenge?
Bhaskor da: Obviously.. laye kis liye tha? Khane ke liye na?
Marriage without purpose is low IQ. Man wants the wife to serve food in the day and sex in the night. Is that all a woman was made for? No!
See Piku again and re-discover all these little valuable things that were hidden in the film and may have gone unnoticed during a first viewing.