What goes in one end, comes out the other. Any mention of human excretion usually elicits an ewwwu of disgust. Polite society demands euphemisms, especially when it is about adults and their digestive tract functions.
But as is universally known and acknowledged, the exception to this rule is reserved for Bengalis, in whose households conversation about ablutions is conducted in excruciating detail—did it happen, the quantum, the quality, the colour, is all up for animated discussion, and everyone at the dining table or the drawing room will nod sagely and jump in with their two bits of advise.
Shoojit Sircar had gone full frontal in ‘Vicky Donor’, using wiggly sperm to tell a heart-warming tale. Here he switches his attention to, as they say, the backside. In other words, shit, which usually gets shoveled out of view, never to be mentioned again. Not in ‘Piku’. Emphatically, vocally not. Shoojit Sircar’s lead character lets you know loudly and clearly where he is at, before flushing the evidence noisily down the Delhi-Kolkata toilets he inhabits: the crusty Bhashkor (Amitabh Bachchan) will remind you of your dyspeptic uncle whose life revolves around his `motions’, and his `peti’ of homeopathic pills which is lugged wherever he goes.
‘Piku’ (Deepika Padukone) is Bhashkor’s harried daughter, trying to hack a professional and personal life while trying to minister to her demanding father. The younger men in her life, old-friend-with-feelings (Jisshu Sengupta) and reluctant-but-intrigued newer entrant (Irrfan) try and divert her attention, but everything comes up against: Did Baba go? When did Baba go? How did Baba go?
Sircar knows his setting well. The free-for-all chatter around the stomach, the kind of herbs that help stuff along the alimentary canal – the best moment of the film comes when Irrfan draws a sketch, with graphic accuracy, of the route food takes before it plops out—is spot on. The way the characters are bracketed, though, flattens the film.