Rough Cut

Why Pink is powerful and a movie for the times we live in

The Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury film tells us that being well-dressed and well-educated is not a guarantee of modernity.

 |  Rough Cut  |  5-minute read |   15-09-2016
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Some movies have their moments and some movies are made for the moment. Pink is the latter.

A movie that speaks so directly to our times that it seems almost like a social testament. A humanist one at that.

A document of our times, filled with so much angst, rage, doubt and confusion. An anthem for the brave, a provocation for the cowardly and a form of succour for the weak and wavering.

In the era of Mahmood Farooqui, where the meaning of a rape suddenly alters because he is perceived as one of us, educated, artistic and politically liberal.

In the era of Tarun Tejpal, where a woman's sexual history is sought to discredit her. In the era of Brock Turner where a young man's purported bright future is attested to in order to excuse his criminal act.

Pink is a film for post December 2012, where women's organisations, which a policeman derisively calls the "mombatti wali fauj", won a much-needed broader definition of rape, stricter punishment and a swifter mechanism of justice.

It is a film that examines closely what even Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to in his first Independence Day speech: "Ask where your sons are going, not your daughters."

And it does so not by demonising all men and martyring all women. It does so by telling us this most obvious and most important thing: that being well-dressed and well-educated is not a guarantee of modernity.

It does so with relish and a dramatic flourish, which does not go overboard. If a young woman drinks and smiles at a young man, does it mean she is soliciting?

If a young woman goes to a place, unescorted, with a young man, does it mean she has agreed to sleep with him? And if a young woman dresses in a certain way, or has had sex in the past, does it mean she will do so again, if she does not want it?

"No" is not just a word, says Amitabh Bachchan's character, a manic depressive lawyer named Deepak Sehgal. It is a sentence in itself, not requiring explanation, amplification or analysis. And it is "no", no matter if it is a woman a man has just met, his girlfriend, or his wife.

It does so by also creating one of the most effective portrayals of sisterhood I've seen recently on screen. Three women, one from Lucknow who works in a travel agency; another from west Delhi who lives apart from her parents (also in Delhi) because she is a dancer and works odd hours; and another from the Northeast who is with an event agency, live together in a flat, rented to them by a lovely old man, played by Delhi veteran Vinod Nagpal (and how lovely it is to see the old face from Hum Log).

They go out one night to a rock concert and things go horribly wrong, with one woman (very well played by Tapsee Pannu) assaulting Rajvir Singh (Angad Bedi, also good).

Rajvir turns out to be the spoilt, well-connected nephew of a powerful local politician who turns the tables on the girls when they file a zero FIR against him. Minal ends up being charged and the rest is a well-executed courtroom drama.

But that is not all. There is much to the film. Delhi at night, its verdant parks and broad avenues looking spooky and shadowy at night. Its police, brought to attention only when there is media or political attention on a case.

Its parents, befuddled by their independent-minded daughters. Its older people puzzled by the very normal routine of young women sharing a flat, helping each other, seeking careers, seeking themselves.

pink_poster_goldpost_091516102549.jpg Pink tells us that being well-dressed and well-educated is not a guarantee of modernity. 

And most of all, its young men, confused by these women who want to carve out their own space, who want to live life just like them, wear, eat, drink, do and dream just the way they do.

"When we save our boys only then will our girls be safe," says Bachchan's character in a powerful argument in court. Till then our boys are in danger, he says, with much sarcasm, from everything that a young woman does - the length of her skirt, the tightness of her top, the lateness of the hour she is out, the breadth of her smile, the number of her drinks, or certainly her sexual history.

"Ladkiyan akeli rahengi to aisa hi hoga," say the neighbours where the three girls live. It's a careless remark we may often have made or heard. The film will make you stop saying, or even thinking that.

"Bandiyon ko aukat batate rehna chahiye," says one of the boys. Pink's message is powerful - that women don't have to change, men do.

And no one could be a better ambassador for it than Amitabh Bachchan who defines masculinity even for many millennials - a throwback to the '70s when men were expected to be solid, stoic, silent providers.

It's a riveting performance which makes terrific use of one of his most understated attributes - his piercing gaze, unflinching, unswerving and uncomfortably all-seeing.

Produced by the proud feminist Shoojit Sircar (from Yahaan to Piku, his women are wonderfully modern and real), it is directed by Bangla film director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury.

The film is extremely well cast - Kirti Kulhari as Falak Ali, Andrea Taraing as Andrea and Pannu as Minal Arora.

As are the smaller parts, from Dhritiman Chatterjee, the judge to Piyush Mishra, the obnoxious prosecution lawyer. The films belongs to all the terrific performers but above all it belongs to times we live in.

Also read - Why Indian women must stop crying all the time

Also read - How women bring ruin to their own sex


Kaveree Bamzai Kaveree Bamzai @kavereeb

Consulting editor, India Today Group

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