There are two distinct ways to deal with a striking cultural issue, political or social issue in Bollywood. If we are talking about courtroom dramas then you can either go “Jolly LLB” or “OMG” about it or you can go “Pink”. The latest offering from the man who brought us films like Antaheen and Buno Haansh is a striking portrayal of a stark reality that for very long has only found a voice in the social media alone. It’s a sad truth but Delhi is still the Rape Capital of this country and that is only because women here cared to report. If places, where they are subjugated and not even given a chance to report the torture, was to be unearthed maybe it would have been some other state too. Pink is an important film of our times and it is so because of a plethora of reasons.
Meenal (Taapsee Pannu), Falak (Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (Andrea Tariang) are three women living together in Delhi. As the film begins we see them reach home with spots of blood and anxious looks. The visuals intercut with two boys carrying a friend to the hospital who has been brutally hit on the head with a bottle. We gradually learn that this boy was hit by Meenal after he tried to force himself on her. As the story gradually proceeds, the boys start tormenting the girls. They try to get them thrown out of their house, they molest Meenal after picking her up from a park and also follow Andrea. The girls fight back in their own ways and decide to book a complaint with the police but before they can do that, the boys put charges of assault and attempted murder on Meenal and get her arrested. A court case ensues in which the girls are represented by Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan), a bipolar lawyer who was a star in his prime and knows the three girls as they live in his vicinity.
Pink is a tense affair from start to finish. The moment the story starts there is a feeling of uneasiness in the narrative. The girls hold strong for a while but you always know at the back of your mind that they are vulnerable. The assault on Meenal towards the end of the first half is like a blow to the solar plexus. The reason why this sequence is so affecting is because, from the outset, Meenal is shown as a self-sure and strong individual. Seeing her beg to be released really makes you uneasy. What follows after that is even more shocking. Post interval, the film becomes a courtroom drama and an extremely engaging one at that. The case builds up through the time and the passage of time is shown through the motifs and the changes in the men and women involved in the case.
The film maintains a very stark and realistic feel in the visuals and there is no unnecessary fluff or oomph factor in the way the story is presented. That is incidentally the best way to present an issue like this. However, what really mattered here were the performances and each and every one of them is sensational. Amitabh Bachchan as the aging lawyer breathes fire. His every dialog commands authority and even his silent gazes convey meaning and depth. He is someone in the film who has given up practice and that shows in his initial moments in the case but as he gets into the groove, his performance brings out the essence of the matter and through his expressions you can actually feel his angst and disagreement with the thought process of a big chunk of people.
Taapsee Pannu has been doing quality work of late but Pink will go down as one her toughest challenges. The manner in which Meenal acts when one of the boys threatens her, the way she fumbles when asked intimate questions and her break down feels Oh! So real. There were moments when one could actually feel her pain. The way in which she speaks her mind in the court is brilliantly done too. Kirti Kulhari’s Falak is the sanity of the three. She is calm and composed and yet displays an organic range of emotions. The most heartbreaking scene of hers is when she admits having taken money from the boys for sex. This is a pivotal scene of the film. Andrea Tariang plays a girl from the northeast and in her essay is able to flawlessly showcase a simple and sweet girl who is unjustly judged plainly on the basis of the place that she comes from. She even says that during her deposition. The bad guys are brilliant too. Vijay Verma is the pick of the lot. He is perfectly hateable. My only regret is that the film doesn’t have him getting bashed up after what he does to Meenal. Mamta Malik plays a Haryanvi cop with élan. Her final cross examination by Amitabh Bachchan is quirky to watch. Piyush Mishra is superb as he always is.
Pink points a finger at two important predicaments. First is the social judgment of Women based on their lifestyle choices and the second being the use of power and reach to bypass a system that is only too willing to be bypassed. The film thunderously roars in favor of famous and now repetitive statements like “don’t judge me by my skirt’s length” or “I may be promiscuous but that doesn’t mean its ok to rape me”. Having said that, the film is still not without its flaws. The third act specially starts crumbling logically towards the end, and the climax is pure wish fulfillment ignoring the rather somber and almost realistic approach that the film takes for the rest of its runtime. However, every time it hits a roadblock, the performances rescue it. Pink is film that should be watched and hailed. It is easily one the better and realistic courtroom dramas to have come out of Bollywood (ignoring the finale). It has brilliant performances and has an important message to share. It is tense and well envisioned. What’s more! It’s highly entertaining. What more can we ask for?
Rating : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)