Pink: No, she does not want to have sex with ‘you’!
How do you break a woman who has the audacity to have a spine to stand up for herself? What does it take to knock her down if she has the gall and gumption to fight against all that’s wrong? How do you shut a girl who has the temerity to have a rational mouth on her? Well, you can’t! And B-Town has finally manifested the point in all its cinematic mightiness.
In the prevailing culture of putrid patriarchy, if a female refuses to submit, it is considered as an attack on the male ego. You label her a slut, whore, or in archetypal desi lingo, a r***i, but every so often this spirited female behaviour also serves as a prelude to dire consequences as severe as verbal abuse, physical violence, and in extreme cases, rape. These repercussions make me sick in the pit of my stomach and on the evidence of this profound visual piece, the bowels of the filmmakers too.
The three female protagonists of Pink are your regular young urbane women. The troika of Minal (Taapsee Pannu), Falak (Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (Andrea Tariang) share a flat in a ‘posh’ South Delhi locality. Their night out at a rock concert ends in them accepting an after-party invitation from Rajveer (Angad Bedi), nephew of a powerful politician and two of his chums, which consequently sets off a terrifying chain of events.
The typical trident of desi boys who think a ‘drinking, smoking, rock concert-attending girl’ is someone who asks for it, then proceed with subtle sexual advances throughout the night.
Clearly oblivious of the term ‘consent’, Rajveer tries to force himself on Minal despite a categorical ‘no’ from her side and ends up getting smashed by a glass bottle.
While guys rush to the hospital to get the gash fixed, girls flee the scene only to realise next morning that Minal has been slapped with an attempt-to-murder charge. This is where the gripping, but yet, a not-so-glitzy crime-thriller goes mainstream as Amitabh Bachchan – a retired lawyer suffering from bipolar disorder, gives the movie a massive dose of exposure by stepping in as the girls’ court-room saviour.
The premise is simple: A “no” means “no”. Means “no”. Means “frikking NO”. It should never and I repeat, never ever, like ever, be taken as a “hmmmm, maybe.”
The first-half of Pink, resolute in its refusal to either show the incident or even let us hear the account, is built on awkward silences, reflective subtexts, and all that lies between the lines.
The sharp screenplay and edgy narrative puts the girls, and, by extension, the audience through the metaphorical wringer.
The girls are first-rate. Pannu has the film on her shoulders while her figurative partners-in-crime, despite not being high profile actors, still manage to hit all the right notes.
Big B is still the ‘Big Daddy of Bollywood.’ He towers through Pink and imbues his character with a tragic splendour.
It is a role that goes from saying nothing to talking too much, and that gear-shift is managed remarkably by Mr Bachchan, who brings to the table an almost righteous rage. His fervent defence of these brave women is both heart-wrenching and inspiring.
In an era when feminists are roundly dismissed as ‘feminazis’, Pink is a brutal indictment of our times shackling women in stereotypes.
Characters cannot be determined by the clothes they wear, the time they come back home, the fact that they drink or smoke, hell, not even their promiscuous sexual history. Most importantly, women should not have to bear the brunt of male rage for these flawed perceptions.
Way back in 88, Hollywood tried to make the same point through Jodi Foster’s The Accused in which her character is gang-raped in a bar: because she wears a short skirt and has been drinking, she is made out to be a woman who is game for casual sex. It took Indian cinema almost 30 years to catch up but Pink nevertheless is a belatedly exceptional case of ‘better late than never.’
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