PINK Review: Are You Enlightened Or Just Entertained?

PINK Review: Are You Enlightened Or Just Entertained?

WARNING: Spoilers ahead but it doesn’t cause any real harm in this one. 

After a banality of clichéd content that managed to keep Bollywood on a rampant typicality and regular public in the theaters, came PINK that attempted to break the mold. With the name of Shoojit Sircar, and a just approach by the writer, Ritesh Shah, the audience FINALLY saw what us feminists have been yelling at the top of our voices for centuries. Yes, it took a mysterious training-mask wearing Amitabh Bachchan to tell the masses that “Dude, NO means NO!”

Don’t get my tone wrong, I loved the film just like you did. But let’s just give it one of those reality check reviews.

What’s for real?

First of all, no doubt, the storytelling deserves your love. A gripping and detailed tale of a hangout gone wrong takes you vehemently through the edges of three women’s attacked modesty and impeached personal lives before finally offering you a seat in the court where Bachchan sahab gives a lesson on consent.

You get a sense of that north Indian misogynistic rage  when the dudes plan to teach these girls a lesson. You can also feel the realism of harsh intimidation that the prosecutor (Piyush Mishra) puts to prove that the women are solicitors, by constantly shaming them from every angle possible. The performance of Piyush deserves a medal as he manages to make every one in the hall chew their seats with his arrogantly stuttered speech and wearing that vibe of an asshole that everyone has an out-of-the-belly hate for.

The irresistible outbursts of the three women at different times is something new. I’m sure dialogues like “Kisko accha lagta hai, koi is tareeke se chhue, zabardasti!” (Who likes to be touched in such a manner, forcefully) have never been echoed in the lanes of Bollywood before where stalking, harassing and assaulting are magical methods to successful courtship. The issue surrounding the lives of women are portrayed in a way that it questions every angle there is, to view it – A satisfying blow to the discrimination against north-eastern people living in Delhi will steal your heart and it’s probably the first tackle ever seen on the silver screen.  The film grabs  by the neck all the victim-blaming arguments of a patriarchal society and chokeslams it with blunt sarcasm, delivered by a weighty-voiced Amitabh Bachchan. You see how I keep coming back to our beloved Mr. Bachchan? Here is why.

 What’s not for real?

As I drooled over the heated cross-examinations and debates, that formed the core of this film, I couldn’t help but relate to what I and most of my feminist friends do on the social media regularly. It all felt like a hot debate comment thread we come across once in a while. Like the writer sat down with a couple of friends, divided the group into two teams- feminists & misogynists, shot up a nice and long comment thread and directed it on the screen.

The unrealistic props did not seem right when put under true circumstances. For example, a highly rational judge who never once took a victim blaming swing at the accused women, or a trial that lasted only a few sessions before giving a clear decision in favor of humanity. It’s not what happens. While the judiciary system remains a muddle of corruptions and compromises, women have to go through the most disgusting aspects of its so-called procedures. But I get it. It’s called drama for a reason. Alright, I will give you that. So, what did people learn?

Did they really take home the teachings of Amitabh? Or were they just there to see the good side beat the bad side? I am not the one to make presumptions but we live in a country where victim blaming nurtures within families as ‘Sanskaars‘ . Most of the uncle-aunties clapping over an on-your-face feminist counter just did not fit. There is a fair chance they would still go home and take the very same side (as shown in the film when the girl was being taken away to the police station) when something like this involves their children or known people. That’s where casting Amitabh felt important. Had it been a woman or an actual feminist speaking in his place, it’s very possible this brilliant idea would have ended up in  the trash. Business is important. Risks cannot be taken. It’s enlightenment all the way trying to infuse some rationality in feudal heads, but it’s boring to people until Bachchan sahab says it and makes it an entertaining piece, because who wants to get involved in feminism afterall. I remember chuckling inside when I could see everyone applauding and woo-hooing feminism. It was quite ironic, I wonder why they diss it otherwise.

The Indian audience thrive on emotional frenzies and a lot of it had to be injected into the film at certain points because if it were to be brutally put into an authentic setup, a quick positive victory is not what would have followed.  Not to mention the giggles and laughs around the hall when the women were being harassed and inculpated by the police officer and this is very mild in comparison to what happened with Aanchal Arora, when she went to watch the film in Allahabad.

Question is not whether or not you understand it – it’s fragmented beautifully into a very understandable explanation of what consent means. And the “safety manual for women” invented by Amitabh exposes the mindset of the people as well as the system. Question is whether you will allow yourself to follow it. Can you expect a fairer service of justice to the victims of abuse because now a majority knows what has been wrong with them all this time? Chances are rare. It should have been a film on the debate of consent but it looks like it became an Amitabh Bachchan film. Hopes are not high but appreciation is due since Shoojit Sircar is willing to pick on topics like these and delivering justice to them. Rest of the responsibility lies on us whether after watching a film that has strong feminist values, would we still go for the next one which reeks of pure misogyny?

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Rob DenBleyker’s ‘Depressing Comics’ have a purposeful message for all of us.

Rob DenBleyker’s ‘Depressing Comics’ have a purposeful message for all of us.

<<Trigger Warning: Depression>>

*Scroll..scroll..scroll*

Everyday we scroll through our news feeds projecting a mere computation of our thoughts, feelings and impulses. And like any upskilled scroll-er we make a few stops- stuff that is important! Rob Deynblaker’s heart-touching strip-comic page Cyanide & Happiness is one of these major halts.

by Cyanide & Happiness
by Cyanide & Happiness

Articulated in the soberest of illustrations these comics gouge out the inner dark corners of its viewers with their unexpected extrapolations. The uneventful humour touches the world of dark comedy in the right spot and every last frame of every strip is an awaited experience.

Recently was the ‘depressing comic week’. A small series of tiny heart-wrenching chronicles that left everyone to spare a minute out of their lives to do nothing but “feel the feels” in silence.

Comic by Cyanide & Happiness
Comic by Cyanide & Happiness

As all kinds of comments started shrieking the posts on Rob’s page expressing their conscience of finding the funny in everything, a lot of them seem to have overlooked an important message in this.

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There is no doubt in the appreciation of Rob’s creation because there is no concealed joke or an ending punchline in any of these comics as they steadily put what happened in these poor people’s  lives and speaks of the justice he has done to the title.

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Comic by Cyanide & Happiness

But along the lines of understandable comments like “This isn’t funny anymore” or finding-the-funny ones like “This is why you don’t lie to kids, they take things quite literally.”, people let slide the positively attached encryption.

Comic by Cyanide & Happiness
Comic by Cyanide & Happiness

Rob’s comics are able to let us peek into the blanketed heads of people who tediously struggle everyday with their lives breathing along with their demised aspirations and rotten thoughts.  How it happened is a question of the past, but the truth is that it HAS HAPPENED and it sucks on a medical level.

Depression being one of the most stigmatized of medical conditions is hardly given any chance of discussion in social circles and when it falls into the hands of comedians, there are very few who have been able to correctly illustrate it without letting it slip into the dark well of absolute ableism.

Louie Ck is another one who does it beautifully in his observational sitcom Louie, that embraces the loud discomfort of being in a stressed state and delineates the most poetic expression of awkwardness.

Comedian Louie ck in 'Louie'
Comedian Louis ck in ‘Louie’

“It never stopped getting worse. I remember thinking, ‘This is too much for me to handle. I wanted to give up. I knew it was my right to. But then a few minutes would go by and I’d realize, I’m still here. In other words, there was no escape from it. And I’d be a little disappointed at not being truly suicidal. I hated being ‘all right.'” – Louie ck

Depression and comedy is an irrefutably dangerous combination but it swifts into a useful medium when thrown in the right manner. Along with being an accurate pointer towards a serious issue, the comics also stand out when it comes to saying out loud “Not every thing is supposed to be funny” which is quite a courageous thing to do in today’s world.

More of this could be an integral chance to generate casualness in talks about depression. Another reason for this could be to multiply the mental health activism from a discussion in a goal-oriented consequential meet-up, to of a small talk between two friends sharing these comic links with each other. That’s where normalcy begins and stigma suffers. In a plight of those suffering in silence, these comics can serve as a catalyst to initiate more talking and increase casual considerations.

India’s First-Ever Documentary on Fossils is a Must Watch For Everyone

India’s First-Ever Documentary on Fossils is a Must Watch For Everyone

“I shall endeavour to find out how nature’s forces act upon one another, and in what manner the geographic environment exerts its influence on animals and plants. In short, I must find out about the harmony in nature.”   – Alexander von Humboldt

Imagine you are walking on the playground and you come across a piece of rock with an unusual shape and a designed pattern carved on it, you take it to a geologist or any person you think who might have an idea and he tells you it’s a fossil of an organism that breathed on this planet more than 50 millions ago. Now imagine a town full of such fossils waiting to be explored. Amazed? Me too, but it’s all real and right here in India. Ariyalur is a small town located in the state of Tamil Nadu and is crammed with fossils millions of years old everywhere from backyards to lakesides. The place despite being such an enormous hub of scientific contribution, didn’t get any attention until now when a Chennai based film making crew decided to unearth these embedded fragments of life.

“Science is a pursuit I’d never be tired of taking. My love for science and my love of film-making is a combination that I can never say no to.”

Says Vaishnavi Sundar, the director and voice over artist of the film.
‘Unearthing The Treasures of Ariyalur’ is a not-for-profit and crowd-funded project targeted by Nirmukta, India’s largest NGO dedicated to promote Science, Freethought and Secular Humanism and was completed by Vaishnavi’s own emerging company Lime Soda Films.

Paleontology is the study of the history of life on Earth as reflected in the fossil record. With the expertise of two Paleontologists, Nirmal Rajah and Anurag Amin, the documentary takes you underneath the soil of Ariyalur and provides you a look into the life that sustained millions of years ago. An incredible arrangement of graphics and a story-telling voice over adds to the credibility of this film.

The documentary along with being fairly educational and exploratory also bestows us with a generous amount of scientific tranquillity and explains why is it important not just for the scientists but for all of us to fathom the trail of our existence. A significant part of the film includes a decent interaction between the two Paleontologists and kids from a local school which illustrates how a small segment of dissemination about science can evoke curiosity and the ‘will to inquire’ within children. An instant appreciation about the film by a Utah State Paleontologist, Dr. James l. Kirkland says,

“Happy to see this fine Paleontology documentary. As a Paleontologist I was most excited to see the kids in the film. Paleontology is one of the top gateways of kids developing a love of science. That is a priceless contribution to all of our societies.”

It is worth to note that this is by far the first documentary to cover fossilization in India and it has done a stupendous job by not only covering the prime intention of unearthing the fossils of Ariyalur but also by watering the plant of scientific inquisitiveness present in each one of us. Making such documentaries has been a necessity in India because they act as flairs to all those students, especially the unprivileged ones who see themselves securing a future in science but lack the basic inspiration to do so. Watch it and show it to everyone.

For further reading visit:  Unearthing The Treasures Of Ariyalur – A Documentary.