Saturday, May 23, 2015

Digest for - 1 update in 1 topic May 23 03:09PM

What's made Deepika-starrer Piku such a hit? - Entertainment -
A critical darling, a money-spinner and a cultural touchstone – and to
think that Piku is about bowel movements and death.
Its creator, Juhi Chaturvedi, is everybody's favourite screenwriter
for the moment. Her humourous and often touching exploration of the
frayed ties between Bhaskor Banerjee, a cantankerous and constipated
70-year-old Bengali gent, and his unmarried, harried daughter Piku, is
this year's most unlikely family outing movie.
Cinemas across the country are swelling with kids, parents and
grandparents, many of whom relate all too well to the movie's themes
of inter-generational conflict, anxieties over ageing and death, the
difficulty of taking care of ailing parents, and the necessity of
handling bodily malfunctions without emotion or embarrassment.
Directed by Chaturvedi's regular collaborator Shoojit Sircar and
starring Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Irrfan as the outsider
who wades into the family muck, Piku has cemented Chaturvedi's
reputation as one of the most empathetic and astute chroniclers of
middle-class India. Her Twitter timeline is filled with encomiums on
how she has held a mirror to basic social realities, and wherever she
turns, she is told by admirers of how Bhaskor is so uncannily like
their own silver-haired kin.
"The film appears to have touched a nerve – adults can relate to the
stress and the guilt of what Piku is going through, while kids like
the potty conversations," she said. "Finally, somebody is talking
about potty! But the film also deals with the insecurities of old age
that parents cannot directly talk about with their kids. And Shoojit
shot it all so beautifully."
The soft-voiced writer has previously worked on Sircar's Shoebite,
starring Bachchan and made in 2008 but shelved after a copyright
battle between its producers. She first came to notice for her witty
screenplay for 2012's comedy Vicky Donor, which starred Ayushmann
Khurana and was about another taboo subject, sperm donation. Vicky
Donor marked Chaturvedi as a writer to look out for, but Piku might
prove to be career-altering for the 40-year-old former advertising
professional. One of the sparks for Piku was a conversation between
Chaturvedi and Sircar about the pressures of taking care of ageing
parents. "We spoke so much about it that he said, why don't you write
something and see what happens? And shit happened!"
The daughter who was a mother
Chaturvedi based Bhaskor's character on her grandfather, who stayed
with her family while they were living in Lucknow, but a deeper
inspiration for the issues discussed in Piku is her late mother.
Mridula Chaturvedi died three years ago after suffering from various
ailments for 30 years, and her daughter had to step into the roles of
nurse and parent far too early. "My mother had hypertension and then
suffered a hemorrhage when I was in the second standard," Chaturvedi
said. The hemorrhage eventually led to kidney failure when Chaturvedi
was in her late teens, and one of the side effects of the medication
was depression.
Chaturvedi's elder brother was in boarding school, so the task of
helping nurse her mother fell on the daughter. "You become an
oncologist, a cancer specialist, a nephrologist, everything,"
Chaturvedi said. "Humour held me together. When you are sitting in a
hospital corridor for hours, how much can you grieve over things?"
She was a "very quiet" child, who kept herself occupied by helping her
grandfather with the gardening. Her eye for observation and ear for
conversational dialogue were sharpened by years of being in an
attendant's position. "When I would go to other people's houses, I
would entertain myself by looking at their photo albums and observing
how they kept their houses," she said.
Her grandfather, Dinanath Chaturvedi, and her father, Dhirendra
Chaturvedi, were both in the state education department, so her
childhood was spent in capacious government accommodation and
characterised by the Nehruvian imperative of simple living and high
thinking. Chaturvedi is from that generation of middle-class Indians
whose exposure to the movies included squatting in front of the
television set on Sundays afternoons and taking in the best of Indian
language cinema. She describes her growing-up year as being suffused
with an appreciation of the arts and literature and a disdain of
mainstream cinema. Satyajit Ray, one of Chaturvedi's favourite
filmmakers, was perfectly acceptable, but popular Hindi films were
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