Irrfan Khan is known for countless memorable performances and magical scenes. Director Shoojit Sircar discusses what went into the making of one such scene – the celebrated interval sequence in Piku which sees all hell break loose between the three characters (Irrfan Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone) when a knife is found in the boot of the car.
“This scene came in the second draft of the script. When I was discussing it with Juhi (Chaturvedi), I told her we should have a moment where all hell breaks loose. It is a full stop. Now nothing can move forward because this man (Bhaskor played by Bachchan) has irritated everyone so much.
This scene was not constructed like this… When we were doing the scene, something was not happening or coming out. I mean, the way it was scripted was perfect, but it was looking very stale and boring. So after many rehearsals and many takes, I went to Irrfan and Bachchan Sir and said ‘Sir, this scene is not happening… This should be like the end of the film. Imagine this is the climax where all relationships are over.’
Mr Bachchan is more of a scripted person. He will remember the dot, the question mark, comma, the full stop, everything. Irrfan can go anywhere. If you give him a free hand, he is very spontaneous and can go anywhere. Deepika is at some point between these two actors. Deepika was standing in the middle holding the knife and I didn’t know what she was going to do. So I went to her and whispered, ‘At some point if you feel you are not able to understand what the hell is going on, you actually just chuck the knife.’ This I didn’t tell the other two actors.
And then Irrfan and Mr Bachchan started. Mr Bachchan takes the luggage and walks away. My camera guy was saying he was not able to capture it. I said let it go, just do not stop. There are a lot of jerks in the scene, it was very difficult to edit as well. The language was wrong, words were wrong, some portions were dubbed later also.
I don’t know what happened to Irrfan at that moment. He walks away, switches on the phone and calls his friend that is played by Jisshu (Sengupta) and says, ‘I am taking a bus back. I cannot take this family’. I cut that bit out later. Then after the phone call he went and sat, and Mr Bachchan also just sat there. Deepika also didn’t know what to do but it was very clever of her that in that moment that she went and sat in the car.
They didn’t know what to do next. I said keep holding and got a very nice moment there. I said don’t move, everybody be there and let us stay with this moment for some time. That’s how this scene came out of improvisation.
I didn’t know that this scene was going to be the interval scene. My editor, Shekhar Prajapati one day called me and said ‘Sir, I have found an interval point, you can have a look at it and tell what you feel about it”… And immediately I knew this was the perfect interval point.”