Piku in Patriarchy.

Another unexpected surprise. I guess with more and more Indian women watching movies, we are going to see more movies that acknowledge women as people. First Laila in ‘Margarita with a Straw’, and now Piku.

What else do Piku and Laila have in common?

1. Their families respect them and care for them.

2. They care for their parents, but they are not obedient and they do not fit into the traditional ideas of good Indian women.

3. They are sexually active, but are in no hurry to get married.

4. They are relatable.

They are involved in running their homes – Piku is shown cleaning cobwebs, loading her washing machine, counting clothes to be given to the dhobi and understanding their part time domestic helper’s need to take a few days off.

Piku gets impatient with and yells at someone she loves a lot, tolerates some amount of unfair dependence from her seventy year old father, but doesn’t prove her good-Indian-daughter love by sacrificing her social life.

She is caring and responsible without fitting into the stereotype of a good Indian daughter – this would still be considered unimaginable in traditional patriarchal families.

She complains about her father’s interference in her personal life, she appreciates sympathy from her maternal aunt and Rana Chowdhury, she talks about getting married but doesn’t believe that Getting Married and Staying Married is her goal in life.

Piku breaks some other stereotypes too.

I loved the scene where Chobbi Maasi is playing badminton with a younger man(Chowdhry?), who flirts with her, and instead of being flattered or overwhelmed (like the Bua in DDLJ and many other Indian movies) she casually (and confidently) says she was considering marrying a fourth time.

This maasi also wonders if Piku is stressed because she needs a sex life. Two women in an Indian movie talk, casually, about sex, but not about men or marriage – the movie passes Bechdel’s Test. (Laila and Piku have this in common)

My favourite scene [No spoilers] was when Chaudhury asks Piku if she would be able to manage it all on her own, and she says she would.

What if Piku was a son and was living with her mother? If the mother encouraged her… him to be sexually active but to be in no hurry to get married? And if the mother was demanding of his time and wanted to interfere in who he dates or sleeps with? I guess that is how it is for many Indian sons. Indian sons are also offered a solution – to bring home a daughter in law to take care of the mother.

In one scene Piku’s dad demands that Chowdhury picks and throws away a knife. Piku requests Chowdhury to indulge her father. How many Indian fathers of daughters can expect this from their thirty year old daughters? Most of them would be too worried about marrying the daughter off. I hope some Indian dads watching this movies see the possibilities…

Someone who didn’t like the movie said Piku’s father didn’t want her to have a life of her own because he depended on her, this is what, we know, Indian male children experience all the time. I guess what Piku’s father (and other parents who view their girl children as their care givers) would eventually want is freedom and rights for their children, to have a life that doesn’t require them to give up caring for their parents.

That, and that alone will change the way Indian parents view their girl children.

This would mean more and more parents encouraging their daughters not to get bullied into marriages and relationships that leave them dependent or unhappy, and cut off from their birth families.

This is how it would be in a society that is not Patriarchal, where all children and all parents  (whether parents of sons or parents of daughters) are valued and cherished.

I also felt Bhaskor Banerjee came from a  generation of spoiled and entitled sons and husbands who were raised to be ‘looked after’ by their mothers and wives and that was what made a seventy year old behave like a hypochondriac (though loveable, liberal, feminist and spirited) ninety year old. I know plenty of seventy year olds working and living independently, and cherishing their independence.

[SPOILER ALERT]

I was disappointed that women were not shown participating in the funeral.

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Bechdel Test: Apply this test to Bollywood movies.

‘Piku’: A review of reviews and some of my own thoughts.

27 thoughts on “Piku in Patriarchy.

  1. I agree with most of the points you make IHM, it was refreshing to watch a Bollywood movie breaking all these stereotypes. However, I was a bit upset after watching the movie because they don’t really show piku taking a stand and asking her father to stop interfering in her life. Not because she is a daughter and not a son, but because, parents who expect adult children to care for them in their old age should also give their adult kids some space. In my opinion, the movie in some parts, justified the emotional blackmail and guilt imposed on Indian children. She doesn’t care for him on her terms, but instead indulges his idiosyncrasies..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Much as I loved the movie and noticed the changing culture within, I did notice that women were not shown participating in the funeral. INfact this is one thing that still exists in society. I recently lost my father and was not allowed to be a part of the funeral…
    Hoping this would change soon

    Ramya
    http://www.meotherwise.com

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    • Yes. I know a friend from college and a cousin, both girls, who performed the final rites for their fathers. Aside from the fact that they had no sons, I’m sure the girls would have wanted to do it for their parents. I know I will. We’ve already spoken about it; I’m the only child and they’d be happy to be ‘sent off’ by me. My mother, that is. Dad has decided that he would donate his body to science. I think I’ll do that too.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. LOL,

    Is Piku my identical twin? Because I’m like the same !! I do help out home, cook, clean, tend to my dad and brother’s need like a ‘good Indian daughter’. I do those things because I personally like to cook and just want be considerate and give a helping hand (since my parents work a lot and are often tired).hence the household chores. It’s NOT to prepare myself to be some future bahu and live in servitude. At the same time, I don’t fit the criteria that describes what a ‘good Indian daughter’ is. I do go out, drink and have fun once in a while. I don’t dawn a sari, do puja, prayers..etc everyday. I am simple, don’t like to be too dressy, and just go out in jeans and a shirt. I no longer believe in staying quiet and will fight back if I have too, showing that I am ‘disrespectful’ if I know they are wrong. I believe everyone is equal and despise patriarchy, matriarchy..etc. I don’t agree with arranged marriages and believe everyone should live an independent life and mold themselves to create their own identity, NOT go with the norm and do things just to please and satisfy society ! Be yourself not what others expect you to be, love who you are and you’ll be successful and happy. So happy we have a feminist movement in India now !

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  4. Haven’t watched it yet. Sounds like an interesting movie.
    And yes, we are beginning to see even the older characters changing in Bollywood movies – like the mom in Khoobsurat who begs her daughter to “at least get a boyfriend” – it’s still nagging and interference but when she said ‘boyfriend’, I sat up straight. Another one is the bride’s aunt in Vicky Donor who tells the (shocked) groom’s mother that “she chose to stay single”. In Queen, the grandma tells her “I’ve heard Paris is the most beautiful city in the world. Get out and enjoy, stop moping.” The same grandma also tells her of “this guy who didn’t quite work out and broke my heart …. until your grandfather came along”.

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  5. Pingback: ‘Piku': A review of reviews and some of my own thoughts | ramblinginthecity

  6. Watched Piku over the weekend and Hubby and me loved it. Loved the way Deepika portrayed a strong character. I could so relate to having an adamant, sometimes selfish, stubborn parent (in my case my mom) at home.

    I was reading reviews of the movie and wanted to see how the public has taken to the movie and came across such callous comments. Do read the comments by Catzilla, tyroinfinzie, Arvind Kejriwal here http://www.firstpost.com/bollywood/piku-review-amitabh-irrfan-and-deepika-make-a-film-as-delicious-as-jhaalmuri-2234546.html

    When there are such people who just can’t take a woman leading an independent life, I really wonder when India will really come of age.

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    • Here’s a gem. And I also noticed some viewers are not being able to see beyond digestion being discussed at the dining table.//Piku is an unadulterated 100% pure anti-Hindu movie which encourages Indian women to forgo the Hindu culture and transmute to a Western fu¢k and forget culture.

      Deepika Padukone is used as an example of how the Indian women should become. Marriage before $ex; have a late marriage; distrust men and fall for bad boys//

      Like

    • Hi this is tyroinfinzie. With reference to your above comment, where you referenced my comments on Firstpost PIKU movie review, I just thought I would bring it to your notice that my comments were made sarcastically. I am active on firstpost commenting boards, please do read my comments to understand what values and beliefs I stand for. Not that this is a big deal … but just thought I would bring it to your notice.

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  7. Totally agree. I watched both Margarita With a Straw and Piku. Loved both the movies. It’s really heartening to see that Bollywood is actually having multi-dimensional female characters.

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  8. Its a good beginning for change but call me the devil’s advocate I am still not sure that a lot is changing especially for women in villages and smaller towns, and yes now after having to fight for my right to cremate my father I am someone who seeks equality at this last bastion.Why are women women denied funeral rights? why they are expected to grieve in a certain way?

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  9. IHM I still have to watch the movie but from spoiler it looked a progressive movies.

    First time ever a daughter is shown as primary care giver to her parents and she is happy with it and her father is okay with it. She he has made clear that anybody who marries her or be part of her life has to accept his father. This is a huge step as still women needs permission to meet her parents after marriage. This kind of movie is being made and liked by people is that there is an audience which is ready to accept these ideas and changes. This kind of movie would have never been made even 10yrs back. Hence something is changing may be at slower rate but its changing. The kind of change in attitude which we discuss here at this blog will take another 20-30 yrs.

    However when I see around me I don’t find this attitude among women having brothers. My age ranges between 25-30 hence my friends are also of same age group, few are married and unmarried. But the ones who are having brother still think that brother and his wife are prime responsible for care giving. They will help and go to any extent but they are not responsible. But the thing is different with only girl child in family. They are much more aware and responsible for their parents.

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    • Compare this movie to Tapasya. .. where Rakhi Gulzar refuses to marry or have a life of her own until her family ‘settles down’. We have come a long way. Now we also need to question the idea of settling down.

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  10. oh, Did not know of this movie (seriously behind in keeping track with upcoming hindi movies!)..I just checked out the trailer and liked it a lot! I know discussing digestion issues at dining table is not common in India, but while growing up there was a phase when me and my sister used to crack such “digestion (or the lack of) related jokes” ALL THE TIME! And my mom used to encourage that! Good times indeed😉
    Will have to check out the movie sometime!

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  11. Last year I lost my father.My sister did his last rites.We are just 2 sisters.Since I had to travel from Australia hence my sister performed the rituals.No one objected.
    Infact the pundit said according to the scriptures wives should perform the rites of her husband.In case she is too emotional to go through it.Then the First offspring should do it.It dosent matter male or female.Anyone can perform the last rites.
    Only males doing funeral rites is just a mediveal superstition.

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  12. I totally agree on the fav scene part, apart from the entire movie and the concept, the best part was Piku says “my father has prepared me that much, for me to handle all alone” loved this ending to a fabulous story which otherwise would have been spoilt if the end was something else..

    the whole concept of the movie was women liberation, independence, her choices and her own space. I loved the way Bhashkor Banerjee kept saying “a woman marrying without purpose is low IQ” “She is not made to cook and clean for the husband and be available for sex”

    I think the father himself advocating for an independent life for his daughter is kind of breaking the mould big time!

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