Direction: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
‘Pink’ is one gripping tale. Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s film is a must-watch for more reasons than one. This compelling courtroom drama says so much without any of the verbose sermonizing that Hindi films routinely subject us to.
Three working girls, Minal (Taapsee), Falak (Kirti) and Andrea (Andrea), are out partying one night when things spiral out of control. One of the guys they were socializing with is grievously injured and the girls flee the spot. Later, the girls claim that Rajveer (Angad) tried to molest Minal and she hit back in self-defense, not meaning to severely hurt him. The guys claim that the girls were soliciting and when things didn’t go according to their plan, they attacked Rajveer and fled.
On the surface, it is a story about how the rich and powerful use various means to intimidate and coerce people, especially women. They not only believe they are above the law, in fact, they are audacious enough to traumatize victims even after they have got away with a crime. Their nexus is so strong that it emboldens them to not only be unafraid of any repercussion but, in effect, there is no deterrent for them to not repeat a similar transgression.
This is the primary premise - three girls and their fight for justice.
You peel the layers and you discover that the film questions not only the events of this particular unfortunate night but also our deep-seated “branding” of women. How a woman dresses and acts in the company of men characterizes who they are in contemporary Indian society.
Our self-anointed custodians of morality have laid out their rules – the dos and don’ts for women – like one of those fun slogans you read – “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere”. So, if you are a girl, who drinks, who socializes in a mixed group, who might be skimpily clad at times – then you deserve to get molested and even raped. If you live alone, then it means that your parents never thought that you are worth protecting from the big bad world out there. And if you live alone, come back late and have guy friends then you definitely not the “right kind” of girl.
This kind of characterization is so set in the patriarchal mindset that no one even questions it. Not the women police officer claiming to be investigating the case, not the politician father of the primary accused nor the neighbours, who have no qualms about casting aspersions without an iota of doubt or proof.
In a stroke of cinematic brilliance, the filmmakers never really show us what really happened that night until the very end. Depending on which side you want to support we only get to see the proof presented by the public prosecutor and the defense counsel.
And it is the brilliance of the courtroom drama that keeps you hooked. Piyush Mishra and Amitabh Bachchan as the lawyers and their questioning and cross-questioning of the witnesses make for a compelling watch. Piyush Mishra as the chauvinistic lawyer just gets under your skin and I felt almost repelled by his presence on screen, he is that good. Bachchan belts out a class act – he brandishes his craft with flourish. He essays a role that could have easily been just about him but he makes sure that he never distracts us from what the focus of this film is.
Bachchan questioning Angad Singh is one of the high-points of the film. It is disquieting to see how unabashed the guy is and the sense of entitlement with which he responds to the defense counsel.
Taapsee is effective as the feisty Delhi girl, who is usually brave but every now and then you see the intimidation get to her and make her seem afraid and uncertain. But she is a fighter and she refused to buckle.
Despite, the many nuances that the film presents, it is how beautifully it makes the point about consent that stays with you. Irrespective of whether you are a traditional Bharatiya nari, a fun city girl or even a sex worker, nothing comes before your consent. No matter how drunk and how flirty you have been, if you say ‘no’, it means ‘no’.
Watch ‘Pink’, this is by far one of the best films I have seen this year.