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‘Shoojit Sircar told Deepika Padukone you don’t have to please anybody’: Juhi Chaturvedi decodes Piku | Scene Stealer

In this edition of Scene Stealer, Piku screenwriter and frequent Shoojit Sircar collaborator Juhi Chaturvedi opens up about Irrfan's character Rana, the chemistry of Deepika Padukone-Irrfan Khan, and more.

deepika and irrfanDeepika Padukone and Irrfan Khan in a still from Piku.

Some movie sequences stay with you long after the movie’s end credits start rolling. And this wholesome sequence from Shoojit Sircar’s 2015 directorial Piku, where Rana (Irrfan Khan) and Piku (Deepika Padukone) are seen having a heart-to-heart in Kolkata while sharing food, is the one that lingered.

The scene is slightly long, and it begins from when Rana and Piku decide to take some time off and see a bit of Kolkata together. A part of the sequence takes place in a car, and then most of it sees them having some discussion about their parents and responsibilities. Later, Piku half-flirtingly, half jokingly, pops the big question of marriage to Rana; her mouth full of the roll she is eating, smiling as if she is testing him. But of course it’s all said in jest, and his response is perfect. He is not unfazed by her question, and continues to stare at her, finally replying with a laugh: “Maatha kharab nahi hai mera (I am not crazy)”.

The whole bit is a testament to the actors’ skill to seemingly bring alive that sequence on screen. But more than that, it is proof how talented screenwriter Juhi Chaturvedi is in making an everyday thing bloom on the celluloid. Not just this one (though this is a personal favourite), the entire feature is brimming with brilliance. Not everyone can make something so mundane, so vibrant and engaging. But that’s a screenwriter’s job, a tough one, but also an exciting one.

One of the things that bounces off the screen is the chemistry the leads, Irrfan and Deepika, share. An artiste had once said that all the chemistry that actors portray comes from the writing. Speaking on the subject, Juhi told, “It largely stems from how invested I am in the writing process. How close the characters are to the truth that human beings live. The actors’ performance depends on the conviction of the writer and director. They (actors) exist to bring your vision to life, of course they make it their own in the process, but that energy has to come from the creators first.”

But where there any notes that Deepika and Irrfan were given for the said scene?

Juhi stated that by the time the Kolkata bits came up, Irrfan and Deepika were knee-deep in their characters, and so just ‘being’ those people came naturally to the pair: “By this time, they had already finished Piku’s home bits and Delhi bits, and they were so invested in it. I remember Irrfan having so many conversations with me and Shoojit, about men like Rana. He would just become that character by having discussions about our experiences, what we had seen. So you build up those people together. Both Irrfan and Deepika knew who Rana and Piku were. Even for Deepika, for those initial scenes, she had said ‘I don’t know what this films is about, but I can immediately sense that this is me.’ Because beyond her being an actress, she knows what kind of a daughter she is, and the kind of part she plays at home. But of course this father was very different from her father (laughs). I just remember Shoojit Sircar had told Deepika you don’t have to please anybody as Piku. It doesn’t matter whether Rana likes you or not, or whether Bashkor likes you or not.”

Part of the reason why Deepika’s Piku is able to open up so much to Rana in the honest way that she does is because of the man Rana is. An emotionally aware, intelligent person who is totally secure in being himself, or as he appears to everyone. Juhi, while speaking with us, echoed the same sentiment and said, “It was not like he was trying to establish some kind of relationship with Piku, so he had to say all those nice and politically correct things. He was like ‘This is who I am, and this how I think.’ It was just two different minds who were not afraid to say what they feel, even Piku is like that.”

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Further commenting about what made Rana the man he is, the writer went on to add, “Rana clearly is an evolved person, he’s not looking for petty returns, or any return for that matter. There’s a Sufi streak in him, in that he is free, liberated, and he believes in those things. He values women, and respects them and their independence, so Piku can never be a threat to him. Piku and Rana both are gender neutral beings. Before being a man or a woman, they see themselves as a person.”

All we can say is they don’t make them like Rana any more, at least not on screen.

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You can watch Piku on SonyLIV and YouTube.

First published on: 08-05-2022 at 08:48 IST
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