Film review: Pink is a big cinematic victory

Pink is the story of three men and women who meet at a rock concert in the outskirts of Delhi. After turning down the men's advances, the women are accused of attempted murder.

Amitabh Bachchan in Pink. Courtesy Rashmi Sharma Telefilms Limited
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Director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Angad Bedi

Three-and-a-half stars

Let us start with the downside of Pink – it has problems that should have been easily avoidable. For example, there are portions of the film when the director, National Award-winning Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, seems so smitten by the star power of Amitabh Bachchan that he forgot to direct him.

You can't help be frustrated by scenes that could have easily gone from merely stirring to gut-wrenching in the hands of a more thorough and fearless director. For a movie such as Pink, which asks audiences to look in the mirror and confront the ugliness of the way Indian Society treats women, this was a crucial opportunity to miss.

Having said that, even though the film lacks the deftness of touch displayed by, for example, Udta Punjab, it is ultimately just as efficient in shaking up your conscience.

Pink tells the story of three men and three women who meet at a rock concert in the outskirts of New Delhi. Amid all the revelry, something happens, the exact nature of which is not initially revealed – we just see the girls heading off in one direction, looking shaken, while the men go the other way, one of them clearly injured

The men subsequently use their substantial influence – Rajveer (Angad Bedi), the one who was injured, is the son of a politician – to pull every string they can to make the women’s lives a living hell by accusing them of attempted murder. Why? Because they can – how dare these three single women “lead them on”, by doing nothing more than appearing friendly, then suddenly get offended when the men try to get more physical

The women – roommates, Minal (Taapsee Pannu), Falak (Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (Andrea Tariang) – refuse to submit and fight back against the men, who represent the patriarchal mindset that refuses to acknowledge that smiles and friendliness does not equate to promiscuous. They are assisted in the court battle that follows by their neighbour, Deepak Sehgal (Bachchan), a once-successful lawyer who was forced to retire due to bipolar disorder.

Pannu, Kulhari and Tariang never miss a beat, displaying incredible emotional range as they shift from initial bravado to a slowly crumbling sense of self as the case proceeds and their characters are ruthlessly and publicly assassinated. Bedi and his male co-stars will make you loathe, with increasing intensity as the film progresses, their characters: entitled young men, drunk on power.

Strangely, the film’s weakest points are its veteran stars Bachchan and Piyush Mishra, as the opposing lawyer. Bachchan often ends up playing a version of himself, relying almost entirely on that rumbling baritone to do the job as he defends the girls. Mishra, too loud, rushed and hysterical, ruins several important scenes.

But what is most disturbing is the familiarity of the girls’ experience. Women in the audience will be well aware that this could as easily be their story, were they unlucky enough to cross paths with a man hellbent on ruining their lives for having the temerity to refuse his advances.

When every part of a society is set up to protect entitled men and vilify women, what hope is there for the future? And what is your part in this sordid mess?

Pink forces the audience to ask these uncomfortable questions and, despite its filmmaking flaws, this makes it a big cinematic victory.