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Amitabh Bachchan on Pink: ‘No means no’ became revolutionary

The actor revealed the filmmaking and thought processes on those gruelling courtroom scenes in Pink.

Sonal Pandya

One of the year’s surprise hits was Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Pink starring Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu and Kirti Kulhari. Bachchan has already won a Star Screen award for his portrayal of the retired, bipolar lawyer Deepak Sehgal.

Pink finds Sehgal taking up the case of three young Delhi girls who are charged with prostitution and attempted murder by a powerful politician’s son. The last courtroom scene which tackles the difficult issue of consent and its message of ‘no means no’ has resonated with audiences since the film came out in September.

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Bachchan, speaking at a book launch for film critic and journalist Bhawana Somaaya, explained, “[In] Pink, the issue was so strong, valuable and pertinent in today’s time. It was something that needed to be said. And it had to be said in as powerful a manner as possible. I’m really very grateful to Shoojit Sircar, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Ronnie Lahiri for thinking about it not so much in a way to preach the content.”

The filmmakers and Bachchan discussed the key moment in court and how exactly to get that message across. “It was felt by the writers and directors at that time that in the final summation of the court scene, I would get up and make a long speech which would encapsulate all that happened in the film from the start to the end. But I felt that having said so much already and all the lawyers that were arguing for and against had said so much, it really wasn’t needed. [My] character was hesitant in the beginning because of his bipolar condition to make any kind of argument in court. He would stand up and say ‘No question, your honour’ or ‘No, your honour’. I felt if we played on the word ‘no’, it would just fall in line with the character and then the writers and we thought that why can’t he just work on the word 'no'.”

Bachchan also said that the court scene was shot without a break with seven digital cameras. “Each camera was catching some character that was involved in the scene. You did your shot and you were still involved in the scene, even when you were walking back to your chair in the set, you were being followed by the camera and your reactions were being noted. There was a lot of honesty in the way it happened, [with] a lot of concentrated interest in what was going on. Normally what you would do is close-up and go away and not bother with what your colleague was going to do,” he marvelled.

Writer Ritesh Shah won the Filmfare award for best dialogue on 14 January and Bachchan felt it was a brilliant piece of writing. He said, “[Ritesh] discovered this sentence and the way he put it that when a woman says no, you need to stop. And it can be anybody — your friend, your partner, a sex worker, even your own wife. In many ways, it almost became revolutionary. The [film's] tagline became the tagline of the nation. We still have a long way to go. We hear some incredibly hideous incidents that keep happening in our country. I do pray that they stop and hope that films like Pink will bring in some sense.”