Pink review by Anupama Chopra: A tale of true grit, grippingly told
Direction: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Angad Bedi, Andrea Tariang
Rating: 4 / 5
Three single, working women in New Delhi. In 21st-century India, that one line constitutes a horror film.
Pink is a savage indictment of our sordid patriarchy that shackles women in stereotypes. Here character is determined by the clothes you wear, what time you come home, how much you smile at men, whether you drink and, of course, your sexual history.
Pink takes a sledgehammer to these archaic assumptions. Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and creative producer Shoojit Sircar eloquently establish that none of it matters — when a woman says no, it means no.
An evening at a rock concert ends with a bottle being smashed on a man’s head. Rajveer Singh is the nephew of an influential politician. His assailant, Meenal, is an ordinary working woman who refuses to have sex with him. The incident soon spirals into a nightmare — for the women, of course.
Meenal’s roommate Falak loses her job. Meenal herself is abducted and terrorised. The boys lay siege to their flat and do their best to break the women into submission. One of them declares that it’s important to show these women what their ‘aukaad’ is.
When Meenal is arrested, the only resort the girls have is a retired lawyer who lives in the neighbourhood. Deepak Sehgal has blank, bruised eyes. He no longer remembers very well. But Deepak brings to the table an almost righteous rage. His impassioned defence of these brave women is both heartbreaking and inspiring.
I walked out of Pink shaken to my core. Not because this film is telling us anything new. A cursory glance at the news will tell you of the trauma that Indian women — urban and rural — face on a daily basis. But Pink makes the horror so real that your skin crawls. It’s the detailing: the prying neighbors, the sniggering co-workers, the indifferent cops.
Pink works because the grimness of the material doesn’t weigh on the telling. This isn’t a laboured lecture on women’s rights. The first half works as a thriller and the second as a courtroom drama.
Aniruddha keeps the scenes tight and tense. The writing, by Ritesh Shah, is terrific. So are the performances. The women — Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang — don’t seem like they’re acting. These are women you and I might know, strong and vulnerable, confused and angry.
There’s a wonderful moment when Falak is ready to apologise to Rajveer. But a conversation with him enrages her so much that she screams at him defiantly. After all, this is a man who believes that ‘aisi ladkiyon ke saath aisa hi hota hai’.
Taapsee is excellent in the courtroom scenes. And a special salute to Amitabh Bachchan, who imbues his character with a tragic majesty. Bachchan towers in every sense, but without a hint of showboating.
Some stray bits don’t work as well; I’m not sure what the gas mask Seghal wears, or his dying wife, added to the character. But I’m nitpicking here.
Pink is a powerful film that deserves to be seen. Make time for it.
Watch the trailer for Pink