Dedh Minute Review: Piku

Piku brings back director Shoojit Sircar and writer Juhi Chaturvedi together after Vicky Donor. And the duo delivers once again, says Aniruddha Guha in his Dedh Minute Review.

Writer Juhi Chaturvedi clearly has a knack for finding her ordinary, well fleshed-out characters in peculiar problems, as both Vicky Donor and Piku show. The former was about an extremely fertile man who takes to donating sperm to earn a quick buck. Here, the eponymous character, played by Deepika Padukone, finds herself grappling with a hypochondriac, annoying Bengali father, played by Amitabh Bachchan, who is suffering from constipation. Thrown in the mix is Rana Chaudhary, played by Irrfan.

The big takeaway from Piku is the joy of watching solid, stylistically diverse actors like Irrfan, Bachchan and Padukone jamming together. Irrfan is quite easily the best Hindi film actor at the moment, and Padukone has proven to be the most exciting commercial actress of late. The two actors share cracking chemistry, and with Bachchan around, sparks fly.

This is Sircar’s most sure-footed work. Like in Vicky Donor, which never felt sleazy in spite of its theme, Piku’s toilet humour isn’t crass. To the director’s credit, not one scene shows Bachchan’s character sitting on a pot. Chaturvedi has the ability to draw beautifully from life, constructing authentic characters, idiosyncrasies et al. The director-writer combo’s knack for finding wit in the mundane is among their strongest points as a team.

The one thing that jars is the emphasis on the Bengali accent. Using Hindi as a means to communicate to a larger audience is fine, but the attempt to elicit laughs through an accent seems caricaturish at times. Sircar may have found his Utpal Dutt in Bachchan, but Dutt delivered Hindi lines in his usual manner – the humour came naturally. That isn’t always the case with Piku. Also, some restraint with brand placements would have helped the film not seem compromised at places.

Bachchan plays the grand old daddy with heart, showing that when a meaty part arrives, he will still pull out all the stops. Irrfan’s effortless as ever, predictably delivering another pitch-perfect performance. You’d think Padukone would be dwarfed by the towering presence of her co-stars, but she doesn’t just keep up with them, but owns the film in a manner few young actors can. It’s easily her finest performance to date, and her upward graph as an artist continues.

Piku is a well-meaning film that is deftly written and extremely well-acted. Along the way, it reminds us of simple concepts, like the need to give unconditional support to parents, however flawed they might be. My rating is 3.5/5.

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