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?