If you’ve ever had a grandfather or any other relation who, as you grew up, stopped talking about the freedom of movement and bemoaned their bowel movement, Amitabh Bachchan’s Bhaskar Banerjee will make you feel at home right away. A funny, quirky, endearing look at an argumentative Bhadraloki and his daugher, Piku is director Shoojit Sircar and writer Juhi Chaturvedi’s little peek at relations in this stressed out, modern world.
Anupam Roy’s title music warms you up, and is a lovely sarod piece with its own emotional heft, especially when it reprises as background score in the movie. Other than that, how I missed Rahul Dev Burman the rest of the way. But this movie belongs to the director and his stellar cast. Amitabh’s role in the movie might have a bowel movement problem, but his vowel (and body) movement is impeccable. He hits it out of the hall without mannerisms, revels in his hypochondriacally quirky and rigid outlook, and keeps the rest of the cast on their toes. Which is why, Deepika Padukone is a beautiful ballet dancer, on her toes with Amitabh, but shining through and through. Her kohl-lined eyes spew irritation and anger at her father in one scene, and melt in worry about him in the next. (Who hasn’t gone through this?) And even when you don’t see her eyes, she lets you know – the scene where Amitabh doesn’t allow her to drive, she’s in a huff, her eyes covered by a pair of sunglasses, but her irritation radiates through the screen.
And then there’s Irrfan Khan who has his own stressor with his mother. And one suspects he goes for the Kolkata ride partly to escape her, and partly because he’s piqued by Piku. He actually looks like he drove the distance and you want to send him to a masseur, he’s that good. As the journey progresses, he superbly transforms from bemusement to irritation to poker-faced amusement, and finally, empathy. And just in one scene, when Piku asks him about marriage, he actually smiles. And he lights up the screen – with that smile and his response. Piku’s supporting cast (including Bhaskar’s Man Friday) is equally superb, yet non-intrusive.
The movie’s closing is a double-edged beauty – life presents delightful openings if you choose to open the door; and the other semi-smirking message: you might fight for your principles with your parents and friends, but when it comes to maid servants, there’s only one.
Ultimately, Piku makes you miss your parents, and the time you ought to spend with them or ought to have, wherever they are. And just for that emotion, Shoojit Sircar triumphs. That’s the power of a satisfactory motion…….picture.