I vividly remember the time when as a teenager, I went to the theatres to watch Piku, and while exiting, I held my father’s hand in an attempt to safely make our way through the cinema crowd. Since then, the film has reserved a special corner in my heart and for the longest time, I thought that the honest depiction of the father-daughter relationship was the core reason behind it. The reason still stands true, but it was quite recently that I realised that as a grown woman, I admire a man like Rana Chaudhary (Irrfan Khan) and that is why I return to the film time and again.
When the news of Irrfan Khan passing away broke, I was working at the entertainment desk of a news website and as I typed the headline, “Actor Irrfan Khan Passes Away at 53,” I felt numb. I could not believe my own words and like a million cinema lovers, I broke down. Irrfan, however, lives on in the multiple characters he essayed. So why does Rana Chaudhary have my heart? After all, he came from a dysfunctional family (quite an understatement), was stuck in a career he did not really have an interest in, and tried to be overly friendly at times. Well, the answer lies in all these reasons. It is because of all this that he was able to understand Piku’s predicament and her personality. While any sane person would go mad figuring out what made Bhaskor so grumpy and Piku so cranky, Rana understood, or at least attempted to understand, where they came from and occasionally even defended them to each other. Letting his guard down, he even participated in the circus, by making Bhaskor try new hacks of curing his constipation.
Some might argue that Piku was about Deepika Padukone and her character arc and that is true to a large extent. However, the father-daughter relationship wouldn’t have seen the culmination it did, had it not been for Rana. Within their banter and infrequent altercations, he managed to convey everything without ever explicitly mentioning things. A man like Rana is hard to find, because his behaviour is witty, but never condescending. As Piku cantankerously berates him multiple times in Delhi and Varanasi, he tries to look at situations through her lens rather than letting it hurt his ego. He understands that Bhaskor might be a burden on Piku’s social life (a feeling which he derives from his own home) and confronts her about the same, but also respects her decision of choosing to take care of her father. While in Kolkata, he doesn’t accuse Piku of being selfish in selling her ancestral house, but instead instils in her the importance of her roots and maintaining a connect with her past. Rana sees through her strong persona but doesn’t once attempt to break down the wall she has built around her. As emasculating it might be for another guy, he chooses to admire her resilience. I feel that these are the exact qualities you seek in a partner. The silences that Rana and Piku share, the way he looks at her as she sleeps in the car and, above all, the maturity of their relationship are what make me yearn for a Rana Chaudhary.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.