From Baghban to Piku
A Case Study of the Changing Narratives about Aged Parents in Hindi Cinema
Keywords:baghban, gerentology, critical film analysis, indian cinema, piku
This is a critical study of the portrayal of old age in Indian cinema. It is a comparative analysis of two successful Hindi films, Baghban and Piku, both about the relationship of old parents and their caregiving adult children. Both the films have received critical acclaim in the country for addressing the topic sensitively and bringing out the everyday experiences and conflicts of old age parents and their caregiving adult children. The narrative of caregiving and intergenerational conflict is explored in both the films, but from different perspectives. Baghban is a story from the perspective of an old father who becomes dependent on his sons after retirement. On the other hand, Piku is a story of an independent and single woman who is responsible for her old father’s care. Together, these stories tell another story, that of the changing perceptions in today’s India about old age and caregiving by their adult children to aging parents when needed. While role perceptions of adult children as caregivers of old age parents is deep-seated in the subcontinent’s culture, the youth and adults raised in a rapidly changing socioeconomic environment aspire more individualistic lifestyles. This conflict and the resulting negotiations between the two generations form the narratives of both the films. Through their critical comparative analysis, this study attempts to bring these changing complexities out and deconstruct them. While this study notes a drastic improvement in the portrayal of women in the film Piku as compared to their portrayal in Baghban 12 years back, the sensitivity to old age parents seems to have diminished with time. The portrayal of old parent’s death in the film Piku has been critically explored in this study. It also highlights some key interconnections between caregiving and patriarchy in India.
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