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