'Piku': Joyride

MUMBAI: Juhi Chatruvedi came up with the idea of a sperm donor in Vicky Donor in 2012. One of the things never discussed on an open forum. The film hit the bull’s eye. This time again in Piku, she has come up with a theme, which deals with a problem millions of people suffer from but never discuss in the open: constipation.

To Juhi’s credit, like she did in Vicky Donor, here too she makes the story an all-encompassing one. The kind of films, say, Hrishikesh Mukherjee would make. Weaving around the story of a hypochondriac, it adds the aspects of romance, family ties et al in a subtle manner while not making the film a one track toilet humour; she soon converts it into a road movie that leads to a traditional family and roots ending.

Amitabh Bachchan, the 70 year old homebound widower, suffers from chronic constipation but, being a hypochondriac, he imagines all other illnesses possible. Albeit, his illnesses are all psychosomatic, like if his temperature moves from 98.4 to 98.8, he feigns illness. 

Bachchan is the kind who is disappointed if his blood tests reports or BP are normal. Deepika is his only daughter too much in love with her father and tolerates all his idiocies. She complies with all his whims of being a hypochondriac though she knows there is nothing wrong with him. Taking his temperature, taking his blood pressure and preparing his medical doses from hundreds of pills he has gathered.

Deepika hates Bachchan’s ways but also complies with them. Bachchan’s constipation updates are bizarre, and he even sends her updates about it through her office receptionist, which is read out in an important client meeting.

Just when you think you have had enough of the toilet humour, thankfully, the film changes track and becomes a road movie.

Irrfan, a qualified engineer, runs his dead father’s private cab service since he was sacked from his job in the Middle East. His company regularly caters to Deepika, dropping her to office every morning and getting her home again. She is as finicky as her father, Bachchan, and no driver from Irrfan’s company wants to ferry her. They do it reluctantly, though. 

Bachchan has this lucrative offer to sell his huge house in Kolkata, which he is reluctant to sell while Deepika thinks it is time they got rid of it. Bachchan decides to travel to Kolkata to take a final call on the matter. The palatial villa is occupied by Bachchan’s brother and sister in law, who are insecure fearing the villa will be sold. Bachchan has his own peculiar reasons for not travelling by air or train.

A vehicle is booked with Irrfan’s company but no driver is willing to drive Deepika for such a long journey. Eventually, Irrfan has to drive them and this drive is a fun ride for the audience. This is where the film takes a detour from toilet humour and road show and introduces a bit of family and traditions. 

Bachchan was never in favour of selling his ancestral home while Deepika was. There a is a third influence as dumb sounding cab driver who, they learn is the owner of the fleet. It turns out he is not dumb but very clever and logical. His suggestions help Bachchan and Deepika change their way of thinking. Thanks to him, even Deepika is convinced that the ancestral property should not be sold. 

Bachchan’s one ultimate aim in life is to get rid of his constipation before he dies. But, before that, he also wants to live a normal life. Towards this end, one fine day, he borrows the house help’s bicycle and goes on a 25 km ride through Kolkata and gorges on street food. With that, he also comes out of his psychosomatic cocoon and realises his wish of a clear stomach for once! 

The side track is about Irrfan and Deepika’s chemistry. Hard as she tries not to get impressed with his native intelligence, eventually, she does develop a soft corner for him.

This is a very clever and balanced script which is thoroughly enjoyable. Shoojit Sircar, who also directed Vicky Donor, from Juhi’s script, does a neat job once again with Piku. Dialogues are quirky at times to blend with Bachchan’s character and generally witty. Music is functional. Cinematography is pleasing. Editing is crisp. The film is all about performances and all three, Bachchan, Irrfan and Deepika excel. Maoushumi Chatterjee in a brief role is as lively as ever. Raguveer Yadav is good.

Piku is an entertainer all the way and despite the tepid opening response, it should pick up over the weekend.

Producers: N P Singh, Ronnie Lahiri, Sneha Rajani

Director: Shoojit Sircar

Cast:Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan Khan, Moushumi Chatterjee, Raghuveer Yadav, Jishu Sengupta

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