Saturday, 17 September 2016

No, Non, Nein, Net, เคจเคนीं... My Review PINK

Starring : Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Amitabh Bachchan, Angad Bedi, Raashul Tandon, Vijay Varma, Tushar Pandey, Piyush Mishra, Dhritimaan Chatterjee, Vinod Nagpal

Director : Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury


Years ago I was returning from work at 3 am, it was December, foggy... I got out of my colleague's car and was walking towards my house, I was stopped by the police patrolling my neighborhood who just refused to believe I was returning from work at that hour, that too in a car with a man. They wanted so many details, I almost felt I have committed a crime and they will arrest me. Yup, true story, Delhi in the late 90s. 

Let's cut to the chase just like the film PINK chooses to do. Having breasts and Vaginas is not a choice, just like having a penis isn't. This is how men and women are born. But the society forces diktats on the female sex, taking away the choices, only from women... WHY? Why do women have to suffer and be branded the "Weaker" sex, even in today's world, the women are the ones who have to adhere to a million codes which are apparently there to keep them "Safe". Anyone who chooses to question these codes is quickly branded in various insulting ways "Slut", "Loose", "Bitch", "Inviting", "Solicitous", "Whore"... and these are the nicer ones mind you. 

Women in a patriarchal world are "owned", given gender specific roles, tiny claustrophobic boxes assigned to them, in which they must fit. If not, they are the deviants. They are to be "punished", and abused, if not physically, then mentally, all morals applying only to them, they are "shown" their place in the food chain, in an order established by men. 

Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. While women have proven to be the worst enemies of women in many cases, and men have stood up for women's rights time and again. But let's admit that the condition of women, is largely pathetic when it comes to their freedom to ( oh of that the list is endless). We are far far behind in accepting women as equals, and we live in a world where they are seen through a separate lens altogether. 

And this is not a rant. It is coming from years and years of seeing, being there, seeing us judged, scoffed at, dismissed.. and I find myself still fighting, jumping to the defense of my gender... being grateful still to have escaped the worst... 

And this brings me to one of my favorite dialogue of the film "Hamare desh main Ghadi ki suiyaan ladki ka character decide karti hain". So not only is a girl of questionable character if she comes home late, she is also seen as giving clear indications of being "available" if she wears certain clothes, talks in a friendly fashion, shares a drink with you, touches your arm while talking or simply agrees to hang out with you. These are not fictional statements the film is choosing to make, this is the reality. Pick up the newspaper, and you know what a regressive world we are living in the 21st century. From Chowmein to jeans, everything is blamed for the increased number of rapes and sexual abuse, anything but the fact that men believe the girls "asked" for it, that is is okay to commit this crime, after all the first reaction of most would be to lay a barrage of questions on the girl, making her feel like the perpetrator rather than the victim.

Pink is not mincing words, it is not shying away from speaking the truth, and speaking it loud and clear. It has a strong voice, which doesn't waver, stays on track and delivers a sucker punch. 

Minal, Falak and Andrea. Three young, single, working girls sharing a flat in a South Delhi colony, meet a bunch of guys, one of them known to Minal when they attend a rock concert in Surajkund (Haryana). They decide to have dinner with the boys and have a drink. What follows is a nightmare, with Rajveer (Angad Bedi) trying to force himself on Minal (Taapsee) and when her pleas to stop, her insistent Nos fall on deaf ears, she bangs a bottle on his head in the heat of the moment and they all flee the scene. They are scared, trying to convince each other that somehow they will escape unscathed and the men will not seek revenge... But no such luck. This incident leads to them being harassed and threatened, to the point where they have no option left but to file a police case. Predictably, their lives are turned upside down as the politically connected Rajveer and his cronies leave no stone un-turned with the help of their lawyer and police to prove that the three girls are prostitutes and it is just a case of them falsely implicating the "Izzatdar" Rajveer in a sexual abuse case, and trying to extort money. Their only hope turns out to be an elderly lawyer Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan) who stands tall and fights their battle, to not only bring out the truth of what happened that night but also lay bare the ugly face of our hypocritical society, the double standards of men and the sheer shamefulness of way society looks at women and treats them.

I liked that the director did not cast a woman as the defense lawyer for the girls, instead we have a man, who fights for them, showing that if men change their attitude, their mindsets, they can be the real partners to women. Also a smart move to cast Amitabh Bachchan, considering this film needed a big name to make it saleable considering its subject and treatment. The character of the female police officer, who bend backwards to help the case of the politically connected perpetrator exposes the reality further. 

Taapsee, Kirti and Andrea fit well into their roles, all adding an extremely real feel to the proceedings, shorn of make-up and glamour, they are very much the girls next door. If you are familiar with South Delhi's various colonies and the girls sharing rented accommodations there, you would immediately see how bang on the director is with the casting and characterization.  When you see a brave and confident girl like Minal become a bundle of nerves as she is put away in lock-up, you know what the system can do to the bravest of us if we get in the way of its ulterior motives. Rajveer represents the majority of patriarchal bull headed men who believe good girls don't drink, socialize, have a life, a mind of their own... as he says "Aisi ladkiyon ke saath aisa hee hona chahiye" 

PINK can not be placed alongside a regular Hindi film because  to me it's not a vehicle for entertainment. It is a film where the message is right, and even when the craft falters, the film succeeds in staying focused on what it wants to say. Sometimes craft is just holding the mirror up, without the hand wavering, staying strong and brave. 

Coming to the acting, Bachchan brings the gravitas, the resolve, the feeling of "he knows what he is doing" to the proceedings. I can not think of another mainstream actor of his caliber and mass appeal doing this role. His tired eyes, his wavering voice in the first half, his enigmatic presence around the girls as their neighbor works for me.  Barring the weird face mask he uses when he goes for his walks, his some kind of mental illness and the mysteriously ill wife, I loved him in PINK. 

In the girls, Taapasee is over all believable as a gutsy, independent working girl. Kirti Kulhari is powerful and layered, Andrea adds so much vulnerability as a young girl from Meghalaya and her words ring true as she says in the court room : "Girls from the North-East are treated even more badly" (by society in the north). Angad Bedi is very good as Rajveer Singh, hoping to see more of him. Dhritimaan Chatterjee is terrific as the judge, so much grace he brings to the proceedings. I found Piyush Mishra going OTT in many places, but he totally convinces as the lawyer who will say anything to save his client. 

PINK is a cathartic experience for women, those who can speak up and those who can not... against the myriad injustices they live with everyday... In the darkness of the theater they would feel empowered by the victory of truth and the fact that it speaks of issues which Hindi films rarely address and lay bare with such gale force.  

PINK takes all arguments and then boils them down to a single word - NO. As we hear Bachchan say, No is a complete sentence. Nahin main "magar" nahi hota... When a woman says no, it means no. Period. Whether she is your girlfriend, your wife, or a prostitute....  A woman has the right to say no, and that NO is what must be respected, accepted and not taken as anything else. NO MEANS NO. 

PINK is a voice that must be heard.  I say Yes! Go watch.

My Verdict : 3.5/5