Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury deftly tells the story of prejudice against women and the importance of consent.
Review: Pink will make you angry
Mumbai - 15 Sep 2016 10:42 IST
Updated : 13:44 IST
Film: Pink (U/A)
When does a message hit home while watching a film? It is most likely when an ugly but very relatable reality or event is unfolding on screen, a reality or event that is too close to the viewer for comfort. Pink (excuse the unimaginative title) works hard to send the point home through a repulsive yet necessary court battle.
National award-winning director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, who makes his first Hindi film (he has previously made Bengali films like Aparajita Tumi and Buno Haansh in 2012 and 2014, respectively) shows great maturity with his storytelling. His attention to detail and deft portrayal of the subtlety of interpersonal relationships make the story of prejudice and chauvinistic attitudes against independent women, women who make their own choices, compelling.
Minal Arora (Taapsee Pannu), Falak Ali (Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (Andrea Tariang) are regular, independent, working women who live together in a rented house in South Delhi.
The film begins after Minal strikes Rajveer (Angad Bedi) with a bottle when he tries to molest her at a party and the three young women run away.
Rajveer, with his bruised ego, and two of his friends begins harassing the women. When they fight back, charges of solicitation and attempt to murder are levelled against them.
Here begins the women's struggle as they fight to prove their innocence and defend their actions to the world.
Deepak Saigall (Amitabh Bacchan), a retired lawyer with a mental illness, decides to defend them.
What I am glad about is that the film does not delve into the media circus that such subjects easily lend themselves to, but stays focused on the characters involved and true to the point that the story is trying to make.
Also, some films lose their impact because they are trying to say and do too many things. But here story and screenplay writer Ritesh Shah is very clear about the one thing he wants to say and how he wants to say it.
The minimalistic use of Shantanu Moitra's background score helps focus on the drama that is unfolding on screen.
Shah touches upon how everybody around — from parents and a boyfriend to a random neighbour and the police — respond when the women get caught up in a criminal case of this nature.
While the police will dissuade you from filing a case of molestation or attempted rape, neighbours will come to the conclusion that you are a call girl just because young men come over to your place often.
As a courtroom drama in the second half, Pink is not the most realistic, but it is engaging. Even though it tries to keep the setting authentic, it takes several liberties when it comes to the way in which Bachchan's character goes about his defence strategy. Bachchan's brilliance, witty dialogue and the presence of enough clap- and whistle-worthy moments keep you hooked. Also, the chemistry between Piyush Mishra (the prosecutor) and Bachchan is worth watching.
The courtroom drama brings back memories of Raj Kumar Santoshi's Damini, but here the focus is on the issue of consent and the perception of women.
A lot is spelt out in the court scenes, but with respect to this subject it probably should be because the basic argument of sexual offence needs to be made clear to even some of the most educated people and so-called liberals. And that is the objective of this film too, as it highlights the feudal, patriarchal society and the slut-shaming.
The master stroke is that the actual incident isn't even shown to us until after the film is over as the focus is strictly on the ramifications of an incident that can happen to anyone.
Bachchan pulls off every scene brilliantly and delivers the punches with aplomb.
Pannu is effortless in her portrayal of a brave woman who is fighting the world. She holds her own in her scenes with Bachchan. Her portrayal is real and touching. Kulhari displays a lot of maturity in the breakdown scenes. She makes the angst, anger and frustration of her character palpable. Tariang has a smaller role, but one with potential.
The film puts forth the fact that a young woman's background, state of origin, friendliness, clothes, drinking habits, virginity, boyfriends, venue of incident or even whether she solicits or not are irrelevant when she is sexually molested or raped. It is her consent alone that is. What is important is that she said 'no'. And no means no, whoever the woman maybe — a sex worker, a friend or your wife.
The film depicts how far we still are from achieving gender equality. How women are perceived to be "good" or "bad" or "loose" depending on what clothes they wear, how many men they date, what time they come home, and other lifestyle choices. How most men (and even women) are unable to come to terms with the modern-day woman and man's morality becomes the responsibility of the woman. And so they are then banned from wearing jeans or using cellphones, stopped from pursuing an education, or married off early. These restrictions under the pretext of women's safety (or genuine safety concerns on the part of parents) and prevalent prejudices are what cause grave injustice.
Pink is relevant and important. It makes you think. But it also makes you angry. And it should. The anger needs to stay with you when you walk out of the theatre, despite the poetic justice in the film's ending.
Director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Producers: Rashmi Sharma and Shoojit Sircar
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang
Runtime: 136 min