Piku - When motions and emotions met on a page

Juhi Chaturvedi grew up with a hypochondriac grandfather who would discuss his ailments with his doctor in great detail."And dining table conversations revolved around motions and constipation was discussed 24x7," reminisces the story, screenplay and dialogue writer of Shoojit Sircar's upcoming family drama, Piku.

Amitabh Bachchan's character in the film, Bhashkar Banerjee, a quirky and cranky Bengali babu who is visibly unhappy if his health reports come up 'normal', is modelled on Juhi's dadaji, a well read gentleman who with advancing age and the lingering shadow of death, became obsessed with his health and gave the film its tongue in-cheek catchline, Insaan ka emotion uske motion se juda hota hai."That for me is the truth of life. If you are unhappy inside the loo, you will never be happy outside it.The root to most of our problems is the stomach. If the gastro-intestinal track is working fine, then you're usually in good shape and spirits," she reasons.
Juhi admits that she had enough material to spin a story but it was a challenge doing it hygienically. Even when she took the idea to Shoojit, he'd laughed, "After sperm donation (Vicky Donor) you now want to make a film about constipation?" However, as she points out, the film is not just about potty humour and crass gags, it's about a working girl having to take care of an elderly parent when she wants to live her own life, find someone suitable to share it with her and balance her career. "I understood all this because I'm married and my father lives with me. And as a child, I had to accept this and recalibrate my life accordingly," Juhi asserts.

She was very clear while writing the film that she wanted Amitabh Bachchan to play the father for the experience and versatility he could bring to the role. And that she wanted Irrfan Khan to play Rana because as a seasoned actor he'd know how to look at the girl, when to smile and when to remain silent, without trying too hard to please her. "There's a lot of madhurta (sweetness) and simplicity in the relationship between Rana and Piku and though there's a visible age difference between Irrfan and Deepika (Padukone) I was confident that the audience would forget it when watching them on screen," she asserts.

The character she struggled with on paper was Piku. Even the name took time coming and, as Juhi admits, without a name she can't write a single word. Since her nickname is Ranu , her brother's Vinu and she has cousins called Chiku and Chinu, Piku just popped up as a 'daak naam' and despite her best attempts, she couldn't come up with a formal name for her.

"So I just decided to stick to Piku, baba's little girl, and when we narrated the script to Deepika she said, 'I know this girl , she's me.' And admitted that she shared Piku's unconditional love for her parents and so understood her relationship with her father," recalls Juhi.

And has Juhi's own father seen the film? "Not yet," she smiles."But I know he'll find traces of himself and his father in Piku and others will also see people near and dear to them in these characters too. Anurag Kashyap finds his nanaji and Shoojit his family. This is not your usual fantasy drama, I don't think I can write one."

Juhi was an art director in an ad agency who was coaxed by her boss to write 30-second films because being from Lucknow, the lingo and the words came easy. "Then, Shoojit who'd directed some of these films asked me to write the dialogue for Shoe bite. The film is yet to release but then he took a risk again with me in Vicky Donor. And that's how I'm talking to you now about motions and emotions,"she says.
Source - TOI


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