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Pink

pink-poster

Now only if there was a picture of the women being more prominently featured.

Pink
Release date: September 16, 2016
Directed by: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Angad Bedi, Raashul Tandon, Tushar Pandey, Vijay Verma, Amitabh Bachchan, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Piyush Mishra

The year is 2016 AD, humans have existed for over 200,000 years and the concept of civilization is already 6,000 years old. Or at least, that’s what my Google query springs up as an answer from Universe Today to “how long have humans existed”. And yet, it’s no short of a travesty, that the concept of a woman’s consent is still difficult to digest for many men and the society alike.

If the entire world is still trying to grasp this, then how will the prudish uncles in your Delhi neighbourhood get with the program so fast? And how will the entitled princes of pricey cars and extremely fair complexions have an iota of respect for women and their choices?

In a moment, much towards the final third of the film, Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan) says, “Maybe we have been doing it all wrong. Maybe it’s the boys who need to be saved. Only when they are saved, will the girls feel safer.” Maybe he’s not too far off from the truth.

Pink starts off with two different sets of friends rushing to places. An all male group, rushing to the ER with Rajveer (Angad Bedi) and his bleeding head, and the other, the trio of Falak (Kirti Kulhari), Andrea (Andrea Tariang) and Meenal (Taapsee Pannu) asking the cab driver to take them home quickly. Meenal is mentally traumatized, Rajveer has severe head trauma.

The cause of these events is kept undisclosed, and remains self-descriptive, as the film builds as a courtroom drama in the post-intermission half. Rajveer is an influential politico’s son, and naturally dabbles in intimidating people beneath him, first with consequences, and then by getting the dirty job done by his lackeys. The women face the wrath of these men and Deepak is almost a lone witness to the entire ordeal.

When Meenal walks in to a police station to complain about the harassment that she’s facing, the cop at the desk gently shames her into withdrawing her requests for any action to be taken by them. “Anyone can make threats, let barking dogs lie.” or much like, “you could be equally blamed for this.” Falak wants peace and approaches the only calm-headed member of the men’s group to resolve the issues between them. Things come to a head when Rajveer enrages her so much so that she calls off the whole truce pact.

Here starts an all guns blaring campaign by Rich Boys & Daddy to frame the women as perpetrators of physical violence, soliciting and much more. Deepak is an influential figure himself, which is evident in an earlier scene. He vows to come out of his retirement to fight their case and grapple with his “manic depression”.

The court proceedings make up for the rest of the film. The prosecutor (Piyush Mishra) makes arguments that may well remind you of a particular Advocate Chaddha of lore (from Damini), he’s even as ruthless as him, but this isn’t the year 1993, where one of the counsel members tries to beat up the other. They shake hands after the verdict is announced. Minor details of the court are overlooked, possibly to include more of Deepak’s private life, and his ailing wife (?)

Technicalities of the judiciary aren’t the film’s best selling points, but the arguments raised definitely are. All four of the film’s protagonists, i.e. Pannu, Kulhari, Tariang, and Bachchan, present compelling performances. The ladies are strong, yet vulnerable in the face of allegations, and mud-slinging. All three of them have different coping mechanisms, Pannu’s character goes in a shell, with a trembling voice; Andrea rebukes the lies and the accusations vehemently, Kirti agitates at the consistent name-calling and the finger-pointing and ends up debunking the opposition’s argument entirely. Bachchan imbibes the mumbling genius persona of his character and underplays his rage at being a first-hand witness to the abuse that the women face, and still makes for a believable underdog.

There are gentle beings too, like the women’s flat owner in Delhi, the non-supportive Rich Boy friend, but they are only a few and subdued for the most part of the film. Much like the real world, the fair and just voices get outnumbered and perhaps numbed by their surroundings. Pink reins in the exacting issues of the rights of women making decisions for themselves and our reactions to them. Be it moving out of their familial setups, choosing to have a drink with someone that they like, or even just flashing a smile to a member of the opposite sex without meaning anything else.

Pink doesn’t make any new discoveries or present any new insights on the patriarchal regression and domination, yet, it depicts important observations on our times. Labeling, patronization, character assassinations, abuse, molestation and rape are a chain of events that women tread closely with every day, every moment of their lives, and  the film is more than a finely-executed and well-made outing for the debutant director. It’s a compelling commentary that makes for compulsory watching.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5)

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Dil Dhadakne Do

Dil_Dhadakne_Do_poster

Dil Dhadakne Do
Release date: June 5, 2015
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose, Farhan Akhtar, Parmeet Sethi, Vikrant Massey, Ridhima Sud, Zarina Wahab

If Karan Johar were to make Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham in the year 2015, and on a Mediterranean cruise, there’s a probability it could had have been closer to Dil Dhadakne Do. Pointless, unnecessary comparison aside, it would have had to cut down on some healthy jingoism and overt flash and the melodramatic razzmatazz.

2015 calls for a crisper, and a lighter hand at the job. 2015 calls for Zoya Akhtar to play with a family drama, which has bits and parts of relative predictability, with dollops of individual charisma and charm. The Millionaire Mehras, Neelam (Shefali Shah) and Kamal (Anil Kapoor) have an ordinary marriage crumbling on the inside, and a business that’s faced with a similar fate. To salvage one of the two, they host a wedding anniversary party on an exuberant ship which will take their guests around Istanbul.

Their son, Kabir (Ranveer Singh) is being prepped to take over as the heir once the Kamal steps down. Kabir tries. Kabir falters. Kabir flies a plane to get over it (!?).  Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) is the driven-away daughter who’s grown on to be a successful businesswoman, post her halfhearted marriage to Manav (Rahul Bose) The Mehra parents are obviously discriminatory.

Along with being discriminatory, or sexist, they’re hypocrites just like every other human being, as their pet Pluto (voiced by Aamir Khan) points out. They are bigoted and dysfunctional, just like an ordinary set of old folks, no matter how rich or poor they may be. This is where the perennially impeccably dressed Mehras become fallible and vulnerable characters. What Zoya Akhtar doesn’t try to do out of her way is to make the supremely flawed parents become likable and utterly revered seniors from Baghban, instead she keeps them humane and grey.

The children bear the brunt and the fruits, of which they’re frequently reminded of their obligation towards the fruits they’ve cherished all their lives. They are asked of life-altering compromises in return at times. Ayesha and Kabir, as siblings, have grown past the age of petty fights and name-calling. They’ve graduated to silently understanding what the other feels, knowing where the other deserves his/her support, and when to let them handle the screw-up of the day.

The strongest relationship is shared by the siblings and the performances put in by Singh and Chopra enthuse the deserved spirit into their characters. Ranveer’s Kabir is cool, urbane and witty and not at all over-the-top boisterous showboarder; he’s the younger of the two and thus, fairly rebellious. Priyanka’s Ayesha is the older, much matured sister that knows her parents won’t give her credit where it’s due. Yet, she’s moved past that and is coping with a modern (go on, read modern as millennial, you internet-junkie) loveless marriage. And both of them run away with as much as they can by unrelentingly extracting from their screen time.

Anil Kapoor sportingly wields strands of grey hair and slips into the self-serving megalomaniac Kamal’s skin. He personifies the faulty patriarch. Shefali Shah’s Neelam is dealt a rough path. She’s stuck in a marriage, like many other women from any background find themselves, where the wife is being taken for granted and hence in turn, detonates the bomb of passive-aggression, forever. Shah is simply brilliant throughout, especially in the scene where she’s exemplifying the decorum for her son.

Dil Dhadakne Do is heartbreakingly authentic and harsh in the moments where the family is struggling to come to terms to the ground realities of their current lives. All the millions in the world can’t give you complete control over the events in your life. It’s here that the film earns its ticket price. It takes a set of elite, classic “10 percent” haves and makes them not seem stumbling drunks, addicts or weeping bags of douchebags. They manage to deal with it, albeit in stylish suits and on lavish locations.

Light humor and powerful cameos by Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar and the entire ensemble cast ensures there’s no seasickness on this voyage. How could I not make a sea metaphor!
Special mention to the single-shot approach on the song Gallan Goodiyaan. The song starts off as annoyingly loud and then seamlessly transitions into a fun number.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

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