Any format which tells a story is of keen interest to me. However, nowadays my attention diverts easily and I tend to get bored very fast. As a result, I feel hesitant to visit the PVR or the theatre lest I fall asleep or get distracted in between. To this plague, I have also found an alternative.
In so far as movies are concerned, I catch up the ones which I intend to watch at home on You Tube or online. No, I do not have the luxury of a home theatre. Nevertheless, I have my own satisfactory arrangement which may not be on par with that of the PVR yet adequate enough to quench the thirst of the intellect at the same time does also fulfil viewing pleasures. (Alas! For theatres I cannot say the same and am still on the lookout for an alternate).
Last week, I snatched a handful of me-time and watched “Pink” which was foremost on my “To-Watch” List for a very long time. After “Piku”, my expectations from Shoojit Sircar had leapt up to almost unscalable heights. Therefore, the drop down was, to put it mildly, painful when I realized that “Pink” merely had the benefit of Shoojit Sircar’s name as one of its Producers. It is directed by one Mr. Aniruddha Roy Choudhury who has multiple Bengali hits to his credit. A few years back I had seen “Änuranan”, one of his directorial works, and liked it.
Watching “Pink” was like visiting the Taaj Mahal. I had heard so much about the Seventh Wonder of the World that when I actually visited the heritage monument I could not but feel a little put down. Problem lay in my escalated expectations and not with the world famous specimen of wondrous architecture. In similar lines, I won’t say “Pink” fell short of my expectations but somehow I had anticipated a little more out of it. Again my fault…
It is already a much talked about film. So, no point in going over the story of the three independent working girls, staying together in a flat in a decent neighbourhood, for whom life takes a nasty turn one night mingling with a few guys, known through a common friend!! Minal, one of the mates, is found guilty of attempt to murder and prostitution while the other two, Falak and Andrea (Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang -the religious angle simply a coincidence?) run from pillar to post to in vain to exonerate her of all charges. Follows an intense Court room drama worth watching, especially, because of the power-packed performance of the one and only Big B who at the age of seventy plus proves beyond all doubt that the tag of “Super Hero” has nothing to do with youth and machismo. He rocks and rocks again….
With an unusual but contemporaneous story line, “Pink” makes a few very bold statements, hitherto unmade. First and foremost, it’s an assertion of sexual freedom of woman, per se, very hard for the Indian society, precariously holding on to feudal values on one hand and embarking on a global journey on the other, to digest. Imbibing the global culture also implies a quantum leap in terms of mindset. Whether imitating the West really takes us ahead in the path of progress is a topic hugely debatable. For some it’s the need of the hour. For some it is an undesirable swerve which takes us away from the wealth of accumulated wisdom and values, a hallmark of our ancient and unique civilization. Taking a breather from this controversial debate lets come down to the brass tacks.
Fact remains that we are a judgmental lot. We assess our fellow human beings from the way they conduct themselves in society and tag them accordingly. Moreover, we have two different sets of codes of behaviour – one for the male and the other for the female members of the society. It is, therefore, very difficult for us to understand and accept a girl staying out late night, wearing revealing clothes and drinking or smoking in male company as “not easily available”. They are the types who are to be lusted at is the general psychosis. The fact that even they have the right to say no to objectionable passes and crude advances is unthinkable. I have heard many (including young boys) comment that Nirbhaya transcended the lakshmanrekha by being out so late into the night with her boyfriend. Therefore, however beastly that be, what happened with her had had to happen anyway. Shocking? So, Minal (Tapsee Pannu) could not be different.
The concept of consent is unheard of in our society, more so, for the fairer sex. However, here consent does not necessarily restrict itself to certain act. Interestingly, it extends to every aspect of life in general and surprisingly, for both the sexes, because of the very fact that in our society every child’s life, be it boy or girl, is decided by their parents. It is their birth right to make that decision and to abide by that decision is the utmost moral duty of their offspring. From career to life partner to continuation of the family name, all choices are pre-fixed, un-worded and unwritten, but definitely transmitted by such strong conventional ways and means that overlooking or setting them aside assumes the proportion of unpardonable crime.
Again, amazingly, this complete absence of the norm of respecting a no has been fanned by our dear own Hindi Cinema since past so many decades. We have swooned over classic romantic songs picturized on yester year heroines’, flaunting elaborate bouffant twice as big as the size of their heads, and running an eight around trees in picturesque parks while heroes in skin-tight pants and tighter shoes chased them relentlessly. It never occurred to the director or the screenplay writer that romance is not in any way related to such incongruous exercise of forcibly eliciting a yes from an unwilling lady by trying to catch her in a sudden embrace and lisping soulful songs however beautifully these might have been composed.
Against the backdrop of a society which is prone to condemning its members at the drop of a hat, how painstaking it must be to prove that one’s lifestyle is not aversed to norms unaligned with its social and moral diktats, is something which hits one forcefully while watching “Pink”. And it is herein perhaps that the movie punches the viewers hard. I had always viewed Courts as platforms delivering verdicts, whether these are just or not, is another matter of discussion. It is the first time that while watching this film I realized that Courts are also the fora where one has to explain oneself at great length, from mundane nitty-gritty of daily living to matters of larger import which may or may not have any bearing to the case in question, to prove a point or one’s own self or innocence or whatever, so much so that somewhere this very act of explaining and proving appears to trespass the boundaries of fundamental freedom inherently available to an individual.
After such brave attacks on society – its systems and mindset – a few inconsistencies that rankle. Retired Advocate, Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachhan), who takes up the case of the three helpless girls, is on medication (perhaps for bipolar disorder), yet in that state when he suffers from pronounced mood swings how he manages to collect documentary evidences to lead the case is unclear and unconvincing, more so, because he works unaided. Again, owner of the flat occupied by these three girls is an octogenarian. Cronies of the “victim” employ goonda tactics to pressurise him to throw the girls out of the flat. Yet, Uncleji takes a stand in favour of the girls – unusual! He is concerned and supportive but is never called to the trial, either by the prosecution or by the defence, when the girls’ living style comes under the spanner. Strange!!
While everyone puts in the best of performance, the one whose reticence is more voluble than the the most impactful punch line is that of Dhritiman Chatterjee’s as the Judge who quietly weighs all allegations against the facts of the case from his towering pedestal. However, there is no inkling of doubt where his sympathies lie. Though Director Aniruddha Roy Choudhury does not, even for once, takes recourse to cheap sentimental slapdash but one is wont to believe that the unflinching equanimity and balanced rationale of the Judge belie a human heart who, besides his long tenure of legal experience, must also have fathered a daughter.
“Pink” commentates on society as it is today. It brings to the fore a crop of new generation of youngsters, girls to be precise, who are supposedly more empowered than their predecessors may have ever been. They are educated, earn well, live independently away from their parent’s umbrella of care and protection, are free thinking and believe in individual liberty. Yet do these factors really insulate them from an exploitative, biased, closed and victimizing society?
Point to Ponder…..