Pink: No, she does not want to have sex with ‘you’!

Published: September 22, 2016
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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”.

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.

Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s court room drama, Pink, shows us the horrors that any sister, mother, daughter, girlfriend – yours as well as mine – can face at any point in their subjugated life cycle.

Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang
Photo: Screenshot

Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang
Photo: Screenshot

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.

Angad Bedi
Photo: Twitter

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.

Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang
Photo: Screenshot

Taapsee Pannu
Photo: Screenshot

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.

Amitabh Bachchan
Photo: Screenshot

Taapsee Pannu and Andrea Tariang
Photo: Screenshot

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.

Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang
Photo: Screenshot

Andrea Tariang
Photo: Screenshot

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.

Andrea Tariang
Photo: Screenshot

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.

Taapsee Pannu
Photo: Screenshot

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.

Taapsee Pannu and Andrea Tariang
Photo: Screenshot

Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang
Photo: Screenshot

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.’

What do you call a girl who wears short skimpy outfits, smokes, drinks and is sexually active ?

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Hassan Sardar

Hassan Sardar

The author is an aspiring filmmaker and a diehard Liverpool fan. He also teaches Screenwriting and Cinematography, and loves tattoos and flip-flops. He tweets as @CineSardar (twitter.com/CineSardar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • h

    Such a compelling film! Incredibly powerful.Year’s best from Bollywood.An important film that needs to be seen.Recommend

  • farhan

    Even if she wears very defined or ‘skin-exposing’ clothes people should lower their gaze and guard modesty..But the women should also take care of her clothing..As a comedian once said ‘if you dress like a police officer people will eventually call you one..so if you dress like a prostitute dont be surprised if they call you one”.Recommend

  • Alia

    Loved it. This is, as I proudly like to call, one of the many many examples of NEW AGE Bollywood.Recommend

  • raj

    I don’t think the movie has any substance.. Once again the main point is missing from the act. Yes I agree if a woman says No, that means – No. But there is something very important which is missing from the movie. 1) Rules should be applied to all – be it women or men. 2) On movie’s perspective, women should also be vigilant of the Indian men’s psyche. If you are asked not to go to a jungle full of tigers and even then u go there, then who’s responsibility it is ? The point here is men in this indian society are like animals and when they are drunk they become beasts. Women shud avoid that too. But importantly, a country should have rules for such incidences. Take an example of Singapore. In Singapore, there are strict rules on when to drink alcohol and where to drink it. they have made isolated places for people to enjoy such stuffs and if they don’t follow, they are hammered by police. Also prostitution is allowed there but again isolated to a small space and they make sure it doesn’t come out of that space. Men and Women in Singapore has sense when and with whom to get involved in such sexual acts. If u r showing biscuits to a stray dog, they will eventually bite. Summary: Rules should be there for both genders and if not, women should take care about indulging in such acts. Having said that, yes… No means No.. but also ask “Why” such things happen.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    I am glad India is tactfully addressing the problem. India is maturing, different sections are different pace.

    A ‘No’ means ‘No’, under any circumstance.Recommend

  • Raj – USA

    Has this movie been cleared by the Censor Board in Pakistan. I would be very much surprised, if Pakistan’s censor board allows it.

    I saw this movie and liked it.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Why is the burden of “good and decent” behavior placed only on women? Men can wear what we want, but why can’t women? Nobody has till date objected when I was wearing shorts. Why can’t or shouldn’t women wear skirts or shorts? Yes, they get unwanted attention, but will you ask your wife or mother to stop wearing jewelry because it attracts the attention of chain snatchers? Or, should we stop celebrating festivals where people get together in the thousands because Terrorists would want to target it? What kind of a society would that be!
    Men in Indian society are misogynists. By your comment, you seem to be one too. But, why should women be made to carry the burden of men? We should punish men who stare and pass vulgar remarks; Who call women “Ran..”, “slu..”. I pity the women of India. I have never been called a “slu..”. There is no equivalent word for “Ran..” in Hindi or any of the Indian languages for men.
    Women are not biscuits to be consumed, men are not dogs. This is just misogyny talking.
    Real men respect women. Real men don’t ask them to modify their behavior. They should do what they want to do as long as its legal.
    India is a land of Kamasutra. Abrahamic Religions told us Sex is a sin, we should tell them to buzz off. Our culture is the only major culture where there are women Gods. Cow is sacred because it nourishes us like our Mother. Lets reclaim the good parts of our culture and shun the bad.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Why is Prostitution bad? What wrong in looking like a Prostitute? Its not okay to look like a Prostitute, but ok to look like a guy who visits them?

    Can you also inform me how do prostitutes dress like? If you know how they dress, does that mean you have visited them? If you don’t know how they dress, then why did you imply women shouldn’t dress like prostitutes?Recommend

  • Agha

    Apparently the message couldn’t get through your head. No matter what kind of clothes women wear you don’t get to call her a prostitute unless when she explicitly says she is. And who decides what kind of clothes come under “prostitute territory”? You? A moral thekedaar? Things change. Its time you changed your antiquated mentality as well.Recommend

  • Syyed Muhammad Humaam Uddeen

    Didn’t see the movie yet but looking forward to after reading your review!Recommend

  • farhan

    You did not get my point either..please read the first line..Recommend

  • raj

    I am not misogynist. I am a full supporter of women rights. Please don’t judge me as u do to others here. I guess u didn’t read my comments. Rules shud be applied to both if wanted.. not just women. You may wish to call me what u want but i think u missed the main point. If you know there are animals living in the society u wud wish to stay away from them at first place. then u wud do something to correct them. Saying those animals shud be punished right away will increase the number and that is what India is suffering from. Yes real men do respect women but you have to see where u live first. lets say Singapore men don’t look at the women the way Indian men does bcz the education is such that men don’t create the perception that they are animals. In India, parents don’t take care of their kids (esp boys). If they tell them during childhood that abusing, hitting, killing women is wrong then you can say rightly that they shud be punished right away. In a society like India, men and women need to be vigilant before correcting the problem. I think you are one of those who are not open to accepting the problem and rather u want to correct everything in one go. Things don;t change like that. I do accept no means no but u yourself giving them encouragement of doing something, drinking too hard, making them animalistic and then thinking that men like indians will back off. Go and watch a scene from movie “Anjana Anjaani”. PC got to know that her BF slept with someone and she tried to take revenge. She got an american guy and just before they were abt to leave she said NO. The guy understood and accepted it even though he was drunk. That is the kind of education im talking abt. It comes from with in and within family during early days. thats how u can change society. It was a small scene in that movie but a wholesome movie called “PINK”. Also stop giving is bulls**** called culture. Each country has their norms and calling your superior over others is just telling lie to yourself. if you culture is that great and cow is sacred like mother then why all the abuses are after mother and sisters. why so many rapes. bcz India is still pretending to be following its culture and in fact it is following western culture to its core. U can’t show sunny leone on screen with no clothes and then expect people to not get carried away. we need to understand, Indian society is not american and its not ready as yet for it. I wud stick to my points 1) Rules shud be for both. 2) Education shud be from childhood. No punishment will solve until we start to think abt it in a proper respectful way.Recommend