Pink: Movie review – Deepti Sreeram

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The house that I recently moved into has a bathroom outside of it. Technically speaking, it is on the terrace which I can happily inhabit when needed. But whenever I wake up at night to attend to a full bladder, the distance between the safe haven of my flat and the bathroom seems endless. There have been times when I have opened the door of my bathroom and wondered if someone had entered my house by the time I peed. And there are times when I have wondered if someone from afar had noted this distance down, noted my clumsy self down and if they are at the moment watching me while I wondered. It is in these moments that I make a mad dash for the bedroom door, something that I only do when I am spooked by a ghost.
Pink snags a few of these notes right when it opens. The unsaid, the unseen and what is merely heard and felt are touched upon with much subtlety. The opening credits rolls out an event in whispers and throws light upon three working, independent women based in Delhi. These are women in relationships, women who drink and women who take care of their old parents. But their normal lives change the moment they step out of their homes. A drinking party goes south and a ‘brave’ woman of the trio breaks a beer bottle over the assaulter. Placing this outside of the film, the director envelops the aftermath in darkness invariably making the narrative one big monster in the room who is only willing to show one face at a time.This is effortless filmmaking where the camera plays the role to its hilt. But once this magic sets in, the rest of the movie becomes one long drag as if the filmmaker has forgotten the primary thread that he had in hand.
Structural and systemic concerns around gender have been shouted over rooftops but the documentation of fear and trauma have often been forgotten. Mostly, documentation of the collapse has been a precursor to the rise of the woman from ashes and then her fight for justice/revenge. Given such a history, there was perhaps a compulsion for the filmmaker to thread the beating that the three women take from the system with an extremely problematic patriarch Amitabh Bacchan. Bacchan arrives as an ailing lawyer but he is here for a purpose. He offers a supporting elbow to the women, delivers the punchlines and sends society reeling backwards with some pointed dialogues. He almost ominously tells one of the women protagnonists to ‘be careful’ as if he had some prior idea of the danger that awaited them. . One particular scene where Bachhan points out the racism towards women hailing from the North-east could be practically rewritten as poster for ‘stop racism’. From this point onwards, the film becomes one big pamphlet where Bacchan reads point after point and pauses as if the courtroom would burst into applause any moment. Thankfully, it doesn’t and that rationale prevails in scenes where the lawyers admonish each other for indulging in theatrics.
There is no doubt that Pink has a few moments. Particularly the one where the women refuse to talk about the event that traumatised them and exchange meaningful looks hits home. When each of them try to touch each other and reach out, wordlessly, I almost nod my head. These scenes are real slices taken out of friendships forged between women and one where I almost went back to a conversation with a friend where my eyes teared up as she narrated to me the fear she had when she was trying to get away from a party. But if only this was given the spotlight instead of the baritone!
In hindsight, even a movie like Kahani needed an Amitabh Bacchan voiceover at the end where women were equated to Goddess Durga. PINK for some reason literally brings him into form as if the three women aren’t enough to carry the movie on their shoulders let alone hold fort against the ‘system’.
Photo – The Indian Express

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