Some Ramblings - PIKU (2015) by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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Medically, it is the frontal lobe that plays these tricks. Entrusted with the responsibility of helping with the sense of discretion, the frontal lobe is what that differentiates the adults from the kids, the latter in whom the lobe is still in the developmental phase which explains their rather painful and brutally honest behavior in most inopportune and inappropriate moments. And amazingly the lobe starts shrinking during the old age, which again explains the same no holds barred approach of the elderly. Buffeted on either side by the unvarnished look at life through a plain and simple lens, is the remainder of living that continues to be anything but. Psychologically too, the elderly cross the threshold of pragmatism after a certain age. After holding themselves back for much of their adult lives holding (and biting) their tongues, carefully treading on the side of caution every single time, they finally let it go tired of the whole game, and the result - the bitter truths rolls off their tongues as hot butter. What is it they say about the similarity between kids and the elderly - as kids, you embarrass your parents, and in old age, they return the favor? On the lines of what Einstein had observed about energy, the quantum of embarrassment too remains constant in one's lifetime, it merely perpetuates through generations. It is amazing how the same people who appeared omnipotent and omniscient as parents for their kids gradually begin to become more normal and human as the cycle of time turns on and eventually into a vulnerable and a faint shell of themselves as the process of greying gets over with. Though it appears as a natural process, it runs quite contrary to the epistemological principles that the more knows, sees, reads and hears over a period of time, the wiser, stronger and richer he comes. By that statement, the smartest person in the room should always be the one whose senses have been ravaged and rendered dull by the savagery of time. Quite the paradox! Blame it all on that silly little lobe throwing the spanner in the process, forcing the learned to unlearn, causing the balanced to tip over and showing life a way to return to its roots. As someone said, it is in fact the infants that play with grown ups, and not the other way round, by making them talk and behave like them when around them. And the same can be said of the ones at the fag end of the age spectrum.

'Piku' is a wonderful examination of life in the twilight years through the eyes of the still-abled, and it does so in the same truthful and honest way, as the life it depicts, without andy condescension or mockery. Most of the humor in here stems more from amusement that embarrassment of the behavior and antics of the old and ripe kids, for, this is not a special case that movie tries to showcase, this is everyday life in every household that has the elderly keeping the young ones in the house busy, engaged, enraged, happy, angry, bemused and amused on an hourly basis. What beautiful writing, directing, acting AND editing, that the conversations (which are the only pieces of action in the entire movie), however scripted, rehearsed, acted and edited, appear as though they are unfolding for the first time on the screen, replete with talking-overs, interruptions condemnations, denials and make-ups, all in one single scene. And all this, with enough room left to subtlety and nuanced performances! It is quite rare to watch in Indian movies, a question answered with an adorable shrug, a conversation ending on a 'natural' and charming smile or the subject of scatology (the bugaboo of old age) dealt in such a detailed and a humorous manner, that it is tad hard to believe by the time the credits roll that this is completely an indigenous production with nary a European (read French, in particular, who are obsessed with the minutiae of the mundane) credit in the writing or the directing department. However instinctive it is to compare any small, sensitive and sensible drama to Hrishikesh Mukherjee's creations during the 70's, it is a bit unfair in the case of 'Piku', as this more a slice of the dull, normal and ordinary life dealing with the tribulations (and ablutions) of the living as they come by and not centered around a key point as Mr.Mukherjee's were. Movies as these reaffirm the fact (and dispel as few notions, while at it) that everyday life is just as interesting a canvas to sight (and site) a story, a 'story' needn't be full of twists and turns to be interesting, 'interesting' is merely another word for being relatable, and nothing is more 'relatable' to every living being on the planet than the trials and travails during the early morning ritual.

A brave venture, this, by weaving a narrative around excrement, as, even a little off-balance would have landed the makers....well, the sentence practically completes itself. Bravo!


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