PINK: Women in the dock
Life is strange, huh. Just last week, I had to write (!) off a film (BBD) on account of its shoddy writing. This week, a film has succeeded mainly due to its strong writing. That’s right – if Pink is creating waves, it is largely due to a relatively stable script by Ritesh Shah, who is also credited with the powerful dialogues that are stunning in their simplicity and ordinariness. After ‘Barfi’ – which was near flawless in the telling and where the actors moulded themselves admirably into their roles – Pink brings a story that is relatable to audiences across the country and where the actors have, for the most part, submerged themselves into their characters.
Where else could such a film be set but in Delhi, which enjoys notoriety for the dubious mentality its menfolk indulge in and the hypocritical double standards its society – including the women – foster! Pink is about three girls who are flatmates. They go out one night for a rock concert and link up with a bunch of boys who invite them out for drinks and dinner, from which point the expected molestation happens. Hotheaded Minal Arora (Tapsee Pannu) smashes a beer bottle on Rajveer Singh’s (Angad Bedi) head which leads him to almost lose an eye and from then on, the harassment of the girls begins. Attempted house eviction, morphed pictures online – you name it, the boys do it. Minal then files an FIR of harassment against the wishes of her girlfriends Falak Ali (Kriti Kulhari) and Andrea Tariang (real name.) In a counter move, Rajveer and his friends file a counter FIR of attempted murder, which the cops accept as Rajveer’s uncle is an influential politician. This leads to the grand courtroom drama where the girls are represented by not-quite-all-there lawyer Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan) coincidentally also their neighbour, while Rajveer has Prashant (Piyush Misra) arguing his case.
Frankly, the first half of Pink is slow while post interval is more compelling owing to the high emotions in the court scenes and the grandstanding by both lawyers. Although the script is good, it is not without its flaws. Minal goes jogging in the morning and is abducted by the boys; it is night when she returns….have they been driving around the whole day, without petrol, water, food?? And her flatmates are not anxious enough to have called the cops? Later, in court, Falak breaks down under cross examination and admits to have taken money from the boys, which would imply soliciting, yet the judge, while sentencing, does not give her any punishment or fine for perjury, emotional atyachaar notwithstanding – legal leeway at work? Why do we have the ailing wife (Mamta Shankar) angle; is this Bong camaraderie at work?! It has no place in the script. Also, the crying scene between Minal and Falak is just too fake; poor direction as well as acting there.
Both writer Ritesh Shah and director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury have to answer for the triteness in this tale. All three girls are of different faiths – Hindu, Muslim, Christian – moreover, the duo have also satisfied a minority community by bunging in a single line dialogue of how north-easterners face discrimination in India.
As I mentioned, the dialogues are hard hitting because they have been kept simple and realistic and, because of this, the entire cast too has managed to pull them off without flubbing lines or hamming it. “Independent girls confuse boys…are a threat to boys and therefore they get provoked…we should save our boys, then our girls will be safe…girls themselves go drinking and partying in a room with boys then the bindi brigade gets after the cops…nahin mein magar nahin hota….no means no….” Shah deserves a writer’s standing ovation here.
Amitabh Bachchan delivers his dialogues in his inimitable style. I have absolutely no idea why he is wearing that crazy mask or that grotesque hairpiece considering his usual one is bad enough, nor why his make-up includes racoon eyes, nor why his character should be burdened with a mental sickness – all of this is just playing to the gallery and deviates from a story that is strong enough to be the hero of the film. As I have had occasion to remark before, directors never know when they are on to a good thing! Piyush Misra is loud, abrasive and obnoxious as his character demands and is not intimidated by the AB presence he is pitted against. Tapsee Pannu has done a good job, although she needs to work on her dialogue delivery which is too flat. Kriti Kulhari has performed commendably; Andrea Tariang is the weak link in this trio.
Angad Bedi (son of cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi) has delivered a natural performance; well done. I am quite impressed by Mamta Malik (Haryanvi cop Sarla) of whom not much mention has been made, but the lady has really held her own. I would have liked to see more of her and look forward to her future performances. I also liked Vijay Varma’s work who again, has been largely overlooked; he came across as very believable as a typically sexist and chauvinistic north Indian male. Vinod Nagpal has been resurrected with this movie and does a good job. While I know and love Mamtadi personally especially coz of my daddy connection, I have no clue what she meant to accomplish by being a bedridden invalid with practically no lines!
This is Chowdhury’s first Hindi directorial venture and is reasonably handled. It was a neat touch to have the entire scene of what really happened that night played out against the backdrop of the closing credits and a poem recited by Amitabh Bachchan; perhaps this is where ‘creative producer’ Shoojit Sircar added his two bits. It was welcome to find that there was no music and just silence accompanying the opening credits, but it is too much to hope for that a director will have the necessary gumption to pass a Hindi movie without bunging in a song! Music is by Shantanu Moitra; the songs are superfluous, although the background score is apt. Cinematography by Avik Mukhopadhyay passes muster. Editing by Bodhaditya Banerjee should definitely have been tauter pre interval. Casting by Jogi is pretty much spot on.
*Written exclusively for The Film Writers Association of India