The storyline of Pink is about three girls living independently in Delhi, facing the male domination psyche at its worst. Minal (Taapsee Pannu), Falak (Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (Andrea Tariang) share a flat and work hard and according to some sources, party harder. Credit can be given to the absence of flashback (until the end credits) of the dinner in question from which the trio has just returned. They are shaken, and its obvious they had a narrow escape. In a moment of soberness, they chug down water . We are not told what happened immediately. The scene is gradually built upon, with day after day, or rather night after night played out, as if everything were back to normal. Indeed, the majority of the scenes show the girls placed in night time, surrounded by a mix of darkness and artificial lights: like the dim situation at hand, and the fact that their reality seems blinded by rude jolts. Jogs in the park and work, culminating in silence and frown lines at bedtime. At one point, one of them remarks that its been days since anyone smiled in their apartment. A tickle fest follows, alas, its a brief moment of mirth.
Their fears meet piece of luck, denoted by one of them brushing past the fish-adorned windchimes which symbolize good fortune. She had just spotted their neighbour Deepak Sehgal, played by Amitabh Bachchan staring at her from the opposite flat. A blessing in disguise. Literally, Deepak disguises himself with a heavy clean-air mask each morning while walking to the park. There are stares here too, at the jogger Minal who isn’t able to fathom his looks. At one point, when saving Falak from a traffic accident, he remarks to her, “You should be careful.” Caution is bipolar-affected Deepak’s habit, as seen in the mask and even the hesitation to take up the case before him: Defending the girls versus a couple of young men who have charged Minal with attempt to murder against their buddy Rajvir (Angad Bedi), a politician’s nephew. A string of events had led the three girls to get drunk and Minal to be almost molested by Rajvir. She smashes a bottle hard against his head and the lassies escape. After the boys fail to get an apology from Minal, they capture and attack her. Its not an open and shut case. The girls are charged with soliciting. Their landlord is blackmailed with threats that won’t stop unless he evacuates the three tenants.
Pink shows the transformation of the prevalent darkness to sunrise on the girls’ balcony, thanks to Deepak Sehgal accepting the case despite his illness. His courtroom dialogue is a first in my opinion. No lengthy sermons or tales of preaching. Simple facts that make Rajvir’s case stumble. The only stereotype in the movie is Rajvir’s lawyer, a plump, bald-headed, bespectacled man that gets on everyone’s, including the judge’s nerves.
It is interesting to see the subtleties play out. Like the bald lawyer’s colleague at his bench: a young woman lawyer gives him an approving glance after each of his tirades. Like the poverty struck criminal in the policeman’s office when Minal approaches the thana for help initially. This poor man is yelled against by the policeman, who politely says that its better if there is no case filed, rather a mere warning is given to the boys. He knows their political connections.
Another subtlety, albeit a stark one, is a cockroach that Deepak seems to be preoccupied with in the courtroom when its his turn to cross-examine the witness. It would have been so easy for him to crush it with his shoe, but he doesn’t. Similarly, he bides his time with the prosecution’s witnesses. Questioning the girls on the stand is when he uses a roach-repellent: a verbal safety manual for girls based on the trio’s experiences. The most significant subtlety is the role of one of Rajvir’s friends: a short, bespectacled lad who looks like the proverbial mama’s boy. In other words, danger comes in random packages: don’t be fooled by an innocent appearance.
A hard-to-miss subtlety is the portrait of Subhash Chandra Bose on the courtroom wall behind the witness stand. It speaks for itself, for self-defence and freedom. Like the freedom denoted by the profile of flying birds tattooed on Minal’s collarbone.
It is heartening to see the girls giving respect to their landlord and to Deepak’s ailing wife. It is equivalent to the respect that a daughter-in-law of Rajvir’s household has when bowing to touch her elders’ feet one sunny morning. The respect when namastes to Rajvir’s Chachaji are expressed by the boys. The respect when a police officer salutes another with a Jai Hind.
But respect for women takes a nosedive when the three girls find themselves in a fix. Rajvir and his friends embody that aspect of irreverence towards women. There is a point when Rajvir addresses Deepak as ‘tum‘, while Deepak had been respectfully using the term ‘aap‘. It resonates with the crux of the movie. That respect is not just a tradition. It’s not reserved for certain situations, elders or authorities alone. It is as much a basic right for women as for anyone else.
Many a critic has looked down upon the poem narrated by Amitabh Bachchan at the end credits. They say it should have been related by a woman, or that it was out of place. But one feels that the verses which encourage women to unchain themselves are truly appreciated, especially by the fairer gender.
Pink is a strong film. It speaks out to girls to be bold, like the colour. To live life to the fullest yet not step into the red zone. And to be brave when facing blackness…
thana: police station
namastey: traditional Indian greeting
Jai Hind: a salutation meaning ‘Long Live India’
tum: ‘you’ in informal context
aap: ‘you’ in formal speech
Subash Chandra Bose: An Indian freedom fighter