When I was growing kid during the 90s, the Indian family was disintegrating. Joint families were rapidly transforming into multiple nuclear ones, old age homes were on the rise and going abroad and settling down in another country was a dream most youngsters like me held close to our hearts.
The Indian populace was just discovering their individuality, and felt the need explore and assert their identity. The problem lay in the rigid family values and roles dominant during the time which put limits on the individual. Most of us grew up with sour feelings about tradition and rituals.
But somehow, during the last two decades, the Indian society metamorphosed quite rapidly. As the clash between ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’ was laid bare and the divide of the ‘orient’ and the ‘west’ split open at its widest, the Indian mindset started readjusting to its new environment.
By 2015, the Indian family seems to wanting to come back together again, accepting or trying to making peace with the differences.
This thought first camped in my mind when I watched a Disney Channel TV commercial in January this year. It was about a joint family having dinner together and the tag line read “Shaniwaar, Raviwaar for Parivar.” But what’s unique about the ad is the portrayal of a ‘cool’ family. The teenage girl has had a break up and just can’t be cheered up. That’s when the grand-father (the ever amazing Mohan Aghase) starts sharing his heart-break tales, followed by the uncle’s and the father’s. Soon the entire family is seen laughing together.
The advertisement triggered memory of all the ‘family’ stories that the Indian media has been narrating in the recent past. Not just in ads but in cinema as well. The dynamics have changed altogether from Karan Johar’s Kal Ho Naa Ho. The youth in the films are no longer dreaming for a happily ever after in a foreign land where they are away from the reaches of community disciplining.
In Sameer Sharma’s Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, the theme of home coming is strong. Omi Khurana returns to India and reconnects with the loose ends he had left behind. The foreign land (in this case London) is in direct contradiction of the previous decade’s dream-like representation. Instead, the foreign land is depicted as an unwelcoming one where many options are closed to the Indian youth because of the diverse discriminations imposed on them.
The Indian family Sameer Sharma sketched out for his film has become an iconic one with many films using the same depiction following the film’s release. Titu Mama, a senile grandfather (darji) and the loss of a secret recipe, all came together to show a household which had somehow disintegrated after losing its members to a foreign land. The film ends with problems automatically resolving in a motherland that full of its own mysteries and legends.
The Indian family is now increasingly being depicted as a bizarre amalgamation of characters all of who come together to form a distinct flavor which we Indians often pride as one unique to only this country. Finding Fanny’s journey to find love; Crazy Cukkad Family’s debacle with property and now Piku’s trailer. We have never loved our near and dear ones more.
Piku (starring Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan), is about one such family. Young Piku is neck deep in responsibilities. She is irritable and snappy quite often but isn’t really complaining. She lives with her 90 year old grandfather and juggles a job which requires her to have her own cubicle as well. This is her life and her decisions. Not one she has to live because society asks for it.
The trailer is sprinkled with quirky moments and dialogues. Such as when ‘dadu’ sends a message to Piku’s office asking for advice on how to deal with erratic bowel movements and like when a make shift chair commode needs to be carried on top of a glitzy sedan because it just can’t be done without. It celebrates the madness of the Indian family just like most films have been doing lately.
Piku, however, also celebrates another important issue. That of the daughter’s responsibility. Gone are the days when women couldn’t have been imagined as providers for their old and dependent relatives. Women have ceased to be dependents themselves and have found economic and social independence in a new India. In these times, families with daughters no longer think about their future and who’s going to look after them when they are old.
Now, more than ever before, relationships are being made by conscious choices and practical thinking. Nothing is a mandate or a compulsion anymore. And like when Piku finishes a sentence for her potential partner (played by Irrfan Khan) – men now have to accept women as they are (along with their roles and responsibilities) even if it means living with her 90 year old ‘dadu’.
Watch the Piku trailer here: