Friday, May 22, 2015


Yes, this thing where I occasionally watch Bollywood movies has reached the point where, upon seeing a trailer for this before Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, I recognized the entire main cast and said yes, I like them, I'm in.


* * (out of four)
Seen 20 May 2015 in Apple Cinemas Cambridge #5 (first-run, DCP)

Even if you're not a real fan of Indian film but just sort of generally aware of it (and maybe not even that), the cast of Piku should make you take note: Amitabh Bachchan is an institution who has been popular for decades and patriarch of a major acting family, Deepika Padukone is one of the country's most popular leading ladies, and Irrfan Khan is in tremendous demand in both Bollywood and Hollywood. And, yet, despite what seems like it should be a fun premise, the film is a real bore because this great cast is given nothing to do.

Piku Banerjee (Padukone) is an intimidating, pushy woman working at a Delhi design firm, and she comes by it honestly - her 70-year-old father Bhaskor (Bachchan) is just as disagreeable, and in fact his hypochondria is the only thing that can really push her around. When a brush with mortality makes him decide to take a trip back to the family home in Kolkata, they decide (for various reasons) to take a cab those 1,500 kilometers, but both have browbeat the local drivers so badly that it falls to the taxi company's owner, Rana Choudhury (Irrfan).

The cast probably did not sign on to Piku because of the creative, never-before-seen story, but that's okay; this is the sort of set-up that a great cast and crew can make sing. The trouble is, writer Juhi Chaturvedi and director Shoojit Sircar seem not to realize that they've got a road trip movie on their hands; it takes a thoroughly unreasonable forty-five minutes for the characters to get into into the taxi for a trip that takes a mere half-hour of screen time before another forty-five minutes in Kolkata. The intermission is placed right in the middle of that time on the road with one of the least exciting cliffhangers ever. You can argue that this doesn't have to be a road trip movie, but it should be; the road is where things can happen because everybody is in close quarters and out of their comfort zone, as well as being a natural way to communicate characters in transition.

Full review on EFC.

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