An Jo on Pink


Spoiler Alert: Mild spoilers ahead

One of the cleverest twists in the grammar of cinematic-craft is housed in the end credits of PINK. It is an extremely thoughtful depiction of causality that actually turns the definition of causality on its head! When any individual traverses through what the protagonists of this movie endure emotionally, ‘the principle that nothing can happen without being caused,’ starts sounding a little shaky. The end-credits reveal what actually ‘happened’ that triggered a chain of events causing emotional upheaval in the lives of three young ‘normal working-girls’ (as mentioned by one of the girls), and translated as ‘easy-going’ by society. By that time, however, a LOT has happened, and a stark question faces us: Is the actual ‘incident’ even really rendered important at this point in time? It is almost as if the film-maker is mocking the audience: Is this scene really important for you to see? Will you empathize more with the trauma that these women went through if you finally see the causal incident? After what you witnessed in the last 130 minutes, does this ‘fact’ really twitch your conscientious nerves with even more vigor? What is your sensitivity index? It is only if one sits through the end-credits that one realizes the truth behind this cinematic ‘trick.’

There is actually nothing novel in PINK in terms of content. All one has to do is read the copious editorials published after Nirbhaya or the Steubenville case or the Stanford University swimmer case and there, right there lies the base of this movie: However, what PINK does is humanize those well-meant or sometimes, even lofty, editorials and manages to shake you emotionally. In one line, this film is about a woman’s ‘NO’ to advances, and what that ‘NO’ means to the man, and how this inappropriate combination and interpretation of responses play havoc in the life of a woman – emotionally, professionally, and legally.

That the director is gifted is revealed right at the initial-credits when a silent credit-list rolls over only to be disturbed for a minute with sounds of ‘partying.’ And then that arc traverses all the way through to the end-credits when emotions have covered almost a-180 degree. In a fantastic scene, the land-lord [Bassesar Ram of Hum-Log; oh lord, bless your soul, what a JOY to see Vinod Nagpal after decades] is purposely side-crashed when riding his scooter. One of the accused’s ‘friend’, who is more loyal to his ‘wronged’ friend than a tissue-paper to one’s behind, then smoothly lifts him up and ‘helps’ him get an auto-rickshaw ride gently reminding him at the end to throw the three women out of his flat. It’s a chilling sequence not because of the physicality of the incident but the emotional wreck and damage that could scar a straight-forward man’s soul who is power-less, middle-class and away from the jungle of power and wealth and privilege. When Tapsee’s Minal goes to file a complaint, the reaction of the police-inspector is to die-for. His dialogues regarding the ‘liberal’ bindi-stuck activists are a hoot: That I fell off my seat howling at his statements regarding the ‘repercussions’ of a police-complaint is the success of powerful writing and even better enactment; that I ‘enjoyed’ the scene is up for judgement. Go ahead. Don’t stop.

This is a metro-centric film—[you know, of folks having the luxury of decorating walls with framed quotes and images – nothing explains ‘contentment’ and fun more in life and Hindi-movies than the fact that one has the time and energy to keep one’s house filled with more insignia than idli-plates for the South-Indian and ‘tawa’ for the North-Indian] — no two thoughts about it. This is the story of women who stand up to fight because they are privileged by the accidents of birth – just as I am writing this piece on a 500$ laptop when someone else some-where is struggling for days-on-end to make two ends meet. [If this is the state of citizens who are well-educated and independent, one can only imagine the to what extent the under-privileged can fight back; or can they even attempt?]. That the women struggle to answer questions in open-court about their sexual preferences or lives or boyfriends or whatever, throws a powerful light on these dynamics. [In another effective scene, Minal breaks down not because she is locked in a cell over-night; but because she has to bear the stench of urine in the cell {what an irony that one of the inmates of this ‘urine-stenched’ cell feels Minal’s fore-head and shouts for the officer to address her sickness immediately; a wonderful display of how class, gender, bureaucratic-power and class inter-cut.}

Of the cast, ALL the three protagonists, Tapsee, Kirti, and Andrea shine in their own way. Tapsee, of course, has the meatier role but boy – sorry, girl – does she do justice to it? Kirti is the voice of dignity and maturity [which she loses by the way in an emotionally-wrenched scene] amongst the trio. Andrea is the one who has to bear the double-cross; of being a ‘North-Easterner’ and a ‘normal’ working-woman. Angad as the privileged politician-son is great.

Finally, that long thread that binds and holds the film together is Amitabh’s Deepak Sehgal. As a hinted-at mentally-afflicted once-prolific and excellent lawyer, he tears the screen apart with his gaze and silence. His initial entry and immediately-following scenes are downright creepy – and programmatically so. Oh those eyes, that gaze with a weird training mask hinting at some OCD and other mental illnesses due to deep trauma [never explained and rightly so.] His character is used as a metaphor and a literal-character through-out the film. [Only a mentally-afflicted person would take up such a case and would pull the hoodie off of Minal.] There is some trauma that is hinted at which propels him to take up this case; but never ever revealed. Who cares? As I mentioned before, ‘causality’ is a pleasant casualty in PINK. Watching Amitabh grill the ‘super-woman’ S.H.O is an adrenalin-rush that one has been long-deprived of. Watch him ‘object’ to Dumpy’s [by the way, if Dumpy is handsome, then I am McConaughey] testament due to ‘over-acting’ and you know why this actor stands tall at age 70+ in this entire country; or watch him over-pitch when he asks the VERY same questions and in the very same tone that the prosecution uses to dis-credit a defendant just because of her gender: Conversely, when he brings the guy to the stands, he retains his under-statement tone! What a stunning performance and what thought-process! Of course, the credit must go to the director for this but the way he transforms this idea into action is sheer brilliance. And a lesson to the fan-boy/girl/women directors: There’s a skill that’s required when you have such a behemoth of a star-actor at your disposal; utilize him, do not embarrass him and consequently yourself. Of course, it is difficult to get the caliber of Hrishikesh Mukherjee or Yash Chopra or Prakash Mehra or Desai or Sippy in their prime but hey, you were never in contention!! So break free of the shackles and milk this wonderful, age-less star-actor you have the good-fortune of working with. This is true super-stardom; where story-tellers younger than half one’s age are coming up with roles that can be played only by one actor, not because he demands it, but because he commands it, irrespective of the diktats of commerce. If it was bums on the seat in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it is this inexhaustible cultural currency now.

Though the film borrows a western-narrative style, it is a great achievement in itself that it tailors quite well to the cultural specificity of the film’s intended demography. It is peppered with liberal dosages of Hinglish.

The film is beautifully shot. Ashwini Roy Chaudhry is one promising director to look forward to. One must be thankful to Shoojit for yanking from his camp another fine story-teller. There are some loop-holes [a scene right after an invigorating court scene where Amitabh introduces the 3 women to the bed-ridden Sarah looks forced] but largely, this is a great Hindi film industry debut. We never know who Sarah is, or what Amitabh’s back-story is that catalyzes him from hibernation to take up this case. In the end, it doesn’t matter and that’s where the director scores. It doesn’t matter to the audience too, because there are bigger issues at stake here.

Of the songs, it is KAARI KAARI that scorches the soul. This one [which looked so ‘forced’ in the promotional video but is used brilliantly in the film] is rendered by Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch in the Abida Parveen fashion but is as effective as her voice if not more. Sample and savor some of the lines –

तितलियों के पंखों पर रख दिए गये पत्थर,

Rocks have been weighed on butterflies’ wings

ए खुदा तू गुम है कहाँ?

And yet you are absent o Lord?

रेशमी लिबासों को चीरते हैं कुछ खंजर,

Silken clothes have been shredded by some piercing knives

ए खुदा तू गुम है कहाँ?

And yet you are absent o Lord?

The penultimate treat, once again, is Amitabh’s rendition of TU CHAL [https://youtu.be/YZGfZjAOgs0] as the end-credits roll: Takes one back to his fantastic rendition of EKLA CHALO RE from KAHAANI.

Don’t leave until the end-credits roll-over if you want to savor this.

P.S.: My favorite line in the movie, just because I am in love with the ‘liberals’ from any society is by the character named Javed: Look, I can either be truthful or liberal. What do you want me to be?

44 Responses to “An Jo on Pink”

  1. aapka compelling review pad K bus aabhi movie dekne jati hun (if it is running nearby). ” If it was bums on the seat in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it is this inexhaustible cultural currency now.” You should be a dialogue writer AJ….missed your calling….

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  2. Fantastic and “Pink” or “pinkish” observations and insights. The only thing I would add an intentional , an appropriate and an honest placement of camera and its angles. I.E when AB stares at running Minal from rear another director would have made it tantalizing by just lowering a camera intentionally or ignorantly but here everything was well throughout and respectful to the women and their bodies.
    Amitabh’s rendition of TU CHAL as the end-credits roll: Takes me back to his fantastic rendition of “Kar shapath, Kar shapath, Kar shapath, Agnipath, Agnipath, Agnipath”.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Stellar review,An Jo.
    I can’t think of anything to add.
    Good to see your writing skills are sharp as ever.

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  4. AnJo- maza aa gaya! superb review man.
    People clapped when the movie ended. Bachchan was superb.
    Spoiler – when the police was taking Minal away, I thought ab aayega Bachchan and Dho dalega SHO ko, then I thought ab dilayega bail and sunayga weekend judge ko… LOL
    Vinod Nagpal was treat to watch…..
    .

    Liked by 1 person

    • The one scene which really really moved me was when the Dad quietly leaves the court room re. the adult joke incident. The expressions by the dad and Minal were just too good.
      Piyush Mishra at times was a bit annoying !

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Watch him ‘object’ to Dumpy’s [by the way, if Dumpy is handsome, then I am McConaughey] testament due to ‘over-acting’

    Deepak Sehgal: I object…to this awkward performance. He is clearly overacting.

    Hilarious but also very meta. Not sure it was required, but it broke the somber tone of the film, at least for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another thing the film gets right is the details. For example:

    1) Bachchan starts off his court opening speech with a hint of nervousness. He’s shown grasping for words and is asked to speak up by the Judge (a very fine Dhritiman Chatterjee). Perfectly understandable as he’s a retired lawyer, presumably out of touch with his profession for quite some time. It’s only during the later portions of the film that he gains his voice. Again understandable, as his confidence picks up with the passage of time.

    2) Just before he starts to question Minal about her character/virginity, Bachchan is shown putting on his tie, facing the mirror and he pauses, presumably worried about what’s going to follow. It’s a nice touch, if one cares about such things.

    3) Andrea’s North-Eastern heritage, and the cross she bears because of it, is brought up in a very tasteful manner. There is no attempt to extract cheap applause a la Madhur Bhandarkar.

    4) The three girls are named Minal, Falak and Andrea — a throwback to Amar Akbar Anthony?

    5) After the case is won, there’s no victorious celebration. Minal just hangs on to Bachchan’s hand and cries. Bachchan remains motionless, perhaps suffering internally due to his wife’s death. He walks out and the female constable extends her hand. He shakes her hand and walks away, again without any emotion. The final scene in the film shows the three girls standing on their flat’s balcony, facing the world with their heads held high. Such powerful understatement — nothing is said and yet it feels as if the Earth beneath your feet has moved with great violence.

    6) Bachchan’s final speech — No means No. Whether it’s one’s girlfriend, friend, sex worker or even one’s wife — he almost cries when he utters wife, again one can only presume because he’s just lost his wife. One can only presume things in Pink and that’s the beauty of this wonderful artistic endeavor.

    I’m sure there are many more instances, but I’ll stop here because as much as I like the film, I get tired typing after a while!

    Liked by 4 people

    • 4) The AAA angle struck me as well. After 40yrs, Anthony comes back to save the grand daughters of Tres Amigos. Desai paid obeisance to the men of Nehruvian India. Shoojit now pays it to the progressive women of contemporary India.

      Liked by 4 people

    • tawsifzaman Says:

      Great observations. I was able to pick out those details when I watched the movie, thanks to you🙂

      One question – when Falak and Andrea came to Deepak’s house and talked to him after failing to get bail, he was seen to be blankly staring momentarily. Why is that?

      Like

      • when Falak and Andrea came to Deepak’s house and talked to him after failing to get bail, he was seen to be blankly staring momentarily. Why is that?

        It’s probably indicative of Deepak Sehgal’s mental health. He’s not fully capable,mentally speaking, which is why he’s hesitant to take up the case in the first place.

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        • tawsifzaman Says:

          Yeah, that could probably be it. Will need to watch this movie again when it comes out on DVD and pay more attention.

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  7. Thanks Bliss, MyselfAamir, Pradip, Rajen, Di, Rocky and Saket.

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  8. Ha ha good catch Saket on the Javed stuff. I meant that sentence in another context and not in the context of the film per se.

    Yes, he turns out to be a deserter but I guess we cannot judge. He mentions he has to withdraw since he doesn’t want ‘Alia’ dragged into all of this. I guess from where I sit I might call him a douche-bag but then this film is hardly about judging anyone..including Rajveer..

    If we are to judge him, then I guess her employer shouldn’t be spared too; who in the garb of being an image-conscious company, decides to send her packing. As much as I would have loved to have the company issue a statement and stick to the employee — if the employee happens to be a great asset to the company I mean — I have to realize that he has to answer his superiors and they to some board members and stake-holders etc..and the cycle never stops.

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  9. I have slightly different take on the movie. The movie’s heart is at right place. But I think screenplay is weak and for most part convenient. Most of the positives are there in AnJo’s review and Saket’s comments.

    The problems not with intent but screenplay and could have been better.

    *Spoilers*

    – If the guys hadn’t threatened and subsequent molestation in car, The case would have been misunderstanding than women’s right to say No. I will say it was more on lazy writing.

    – They needed to show molestation in car for conviction. Otherwise the case would have been dismissed with just the case of misunderstanding.

    – If there was no threat from guys and If everyone kept mum, there would be no movie?

    – What if a girl say no, boy still proceeds; The girl murders the boy; How would the case proceed?

    *End spoilers

    The topic is relevant and taboo for most in Indian context. But I would have preferred better handling.

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    • munna, will try to answer a few queries as best as I can…

      – They needed to show molestation in car for conviction. Otherwise the case would have been dismissed with just the case of misunderstanding.

      Don’t think so;the original charge of Rajvir outraging Minal’s modesty would still stand. His friends might have escaped punishment though.

      – What if a girl say no, boy still proceeds; The girl murders the boy; How would the case proceed?

      Again, Minal’s lawyer would argue a case for self-defense. Provided the self-defense argument gets accepted, I believe she’d still walk away free.

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      • -The molestation was grabbing in nature; I don’t think there will be jail time.

        -I think in US, you probably will be charged with second degree murder.

        Have you seen Jodie Foster’s Accused? The movie has lot of similarities.

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        • This is what a quick google search revealed on section 354:

          Section 354 of the IPC considers the assault or criminal force to woman with the intention to outrage her modesty. This offense is considered less serious than Rape.

          Punishment: Upto two years imprisonment or a fine or both

          Haven’t seen The Accused…is it good?

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          • THE ACCUSED is damn good and unmissable – especially for Jodie.

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          • Thanks, AnJo…will check it out!

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          • Just for argument sake:
            *Spoilers*
            When two people are in room; and you entered at your own will. It is very difficult to prove even a rape; let alone grabbing and physical force.
            Saying someone “Raand” doesn’t prove that he actually used the force. The injury actually showed the opposite.

            Also the money part was not handled well…The prosecutor needed to prove that the both agreed to take money. I am not sure what was the meaning of slap by Tapsee after the money testimony. She was not told about money part or Money testimony shouldn’t have been blurted?

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          • Yes, it was Rajvir’s word against Minal’s in the end. What tilted the balance was Rajvir’s testimony in the end. The judge while pronouncing the verdict mentioned this — Today the court will make a new beginning — and took a discretionary call.

            Regarding the soliciting argument, it’s not very clear what exactly happened. It’s a gray area in the film. Falak is later on shown talking to Bachchan and confessing that she did it on purpose — even though they hadn’t taken the money — just to torpedo the public prosecutor’s strategy. She turned the argument from “what if” to “so what” and turned the tables in the process.

            Having said that, there’s this scene where Falak’s boss fires her based on a photograph which has her face with a phone number attached to it, which does not elicit a strong response from her. The film hints that maybe, just maybe, Falak used to solicit customers in her past life, but it’s more than likely that in the present case, she didn’t.

            There’s another incident where Falak is shown trying to bring about a compromise only to lose her temper after listening to Rajvir’s abuses. So she did have a short fuse, and the confession probably came out of that.

            Minal slaps Falak because she admits to taking money when it wasn’t the case. This is the best guess I can make of the entire situation. It’s still a guess because the film doesn’t make these things quite clear. And it doesn’t matter because ultimately, a girl’s no means an absolute no!

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          • I think the slap was because Falak indirectly put her friends in danger and maybe assumed they were YES to sex. It was not a plot required, but the slight twist was interesting. Without it the film was following a predictable path, nothing wrong with that though. I think she realises her mistake earlier on when she vents anger during the apology sequence.

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  10. The Accused swept the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. Jodie Foster was brilliant and here too the central theme was a no means NO.

    Here is Bachchan piece on twitter where he is admitting-

    “…After watching Pink sleep eludes me tonight. I recall the same sleeplessness 28 years ago when I watched Jodie Foster in The Accused. It has taken all these years for Bollywood to make a film which is as real as disturbing and as hurting. …”

    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sp4c6r

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My personal experience- go ahead and judge me !!
    In the late eighties, one of my friend got a job with a multi national bank,, and the bank offered him a fully furnished house in defense colony which he accepted even though he is from West Delhi.
    He shared the house with another employee ( much senior to him )of the bank who was Muslim. His neighbors were two girls from North East living as tenant in a barsati.
    We would go and spend some weekends there with him, and the two girls would join us.We would all (including the senior employee) drink, smoke together and watch movies , sometimes till 5 a.m.
    The girls were very friendly and very nice .
    Now I would be lying if I did not admit that we would talk about them, and kid about them as soon as they left.- yaar – yeh wali meri hai etc.
    But in front of them we were all at our best and normal behavior !!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good one Rocky. And i am certain everyone atleast once in lifetime experienced this scenario. I am in this situation many times, before and even after marriage. Just recently on 2 weeks official trip, me and my female couleague spent most of time together, she visited many times in my room and we did chat till 2-3 am along with food and drinks. But to keep transparency, i delebrately did skype chat with my wife when she was in my room. To be honest, she was very attaractive and very frank and even caring .. so much so that i felt feeling her like my partner. But i behaved properly, sometimes even sent her back despite she was willing to stay more. And i am glad on myself after watching #PINK. Now judge me🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL on Skype !!
        reminds me of a joke where the neighbor catches a teenager plying with himself, she asks – yeh kya kar rahe ho ?
        he goes- aapkee umar bahut lambi hai !!LOL

        Liked by 1 person

      • “my female couleague spent most of time together, she visited many times in my room…”
        You know who exactly is gonna judge in this situation? Same as females wearing mini skirts, drunk (Accused). BTW The amount of trust your colleague has for you, I don’t think I have for even a friend!!

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    • Sab kuch theek hai..par yeh kahani kabhi vipaksh ko nahi bataani chahyeh…Jab bhi mauka milega vipaksha chuaka maar degaa🙂

      Like

    • “He shared the house with another employee ( much senior to him )of the bank who was Muslim”
      Yeh detail jo hai, aapki story se koi sambandh nahi rakti…so why include/share it? I mean are you saying “he is minority and STILL he is decent” ROFLOL
      Freudian slip

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      • Ha ha…… he was a really great guy, very chilled , cultured , fun loving guy.
        The Muslim bit I mentioned was to bring in the Amar- Akbar- Anthony angle. ( The girls were both Christians )

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  12. # Spoilers

    My gut feeling regarding the whole money angle is that Shoojit wanted to go all out to make a point that even if money was involved No means No.
    Bachchan and others probably argued that it would lead to reduced sympathy for the girls and will affect the BO prospects.
    This probably resulted in this compromise , where it is said aloud in the court , but later she admits to Bachchan that it was NOT true and that they did not take any money.

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  13. Agree on the content to be not too novel but it is important film in the place India is in all over the news in recent years.

    I found the film to be extremely well written, fluid in viewing & the 3 leading ladies’ performances to be really good. Big B there is not much to say, his importance in the role cannot be elevated by my words. As such his performance is one that one comes to expect; fluid and natural…his pauses that create the occasional laughter in a heavy topic bring comedy to the courtroom but not enough to reduce the topics seriousness. He straddles his timing perfectly.

    Everyone deserves everything they get with this film!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Read your review after watching Pink. As usual very well written and expressed. Agree about Amitabh and the unexplained bits which finally don’t really matter.
    Went back to watch the end credits after reading your review. LOL

    It was a pleasure watching Amitabh B after ages.
    Didn’t get the part when Falak confesses accepting money. Very confusing. Have read comments above, discussing it though.

    I must say the beginning is not gripping. The scenes jumped from one to the next and took some time to engross one (me, at least). But as it progressed one felt more involved and by the time the film shifted to court it was very gripping.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Very nice review and good observations listed by Munna and replied by Saket.
    Extremely valuable thread.

    Like

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