By: Samar Khan
PINK is the best Bollywood film of the year. Nothing more needs to be said.
Of course, I have to say more as I am obligated to so that you, our wonderful reading audience, get to appreciate the greatness of this film. Suffice it to say, Pink is nothing like your typical Bollywood film. In fact, its strongest asset isn’t even its acting (which was near perfect in this film). No, Pink excels because it dares to tackle a problem that is still prevalent in modern day and more so in South Asia and it does it well.
Before I continue, can I just marvel at how Amitabh Bachchan seems to get even better the older he gets? After a storied first half of his career spanning the period from the 1970’s to the turn of the millennium, the legendary actor has been on a roll the last few years that would make even the legends of Hollywood take notice. After phenomenal performances in films such as the marvellous Piku and the entertaining Wazir in the last year, Big B puts forth a performance that instantly makes him a frontrunner for Best Actor accolades later this year.
Just how good was Pink? As this review will detail below, a combination of brilliant acting, a tense and well-directed plot combined with a powerful – and relevant – message means the film is a must-see for all.
This is a tale that should be familiar to people that have seen what rape culture is like in certain nations around the world. The story revolves around Minal Arora (in a heart-wrenchingly great performance by Tapsee Pannu), Falak Ali (in an emotionally poignant turn by Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea (in a subdued yet commendable performance by Andrea Tariang) escaping from what they describe as attempted rape against them by a group of influential men. There is a struggle and Minal attacks the leader, who seeks revenge. The film then chronicles the public humiliation, the emotional torture and ensuing courtroom battle that ensues when the influential males use their gender and wealth to drag the females to the courtroom on false accusations.
So, a fairly powerful story already, eh? This is when Amitabh’s character, Deepak Sehgal, takes a larger role in the story, coming out of retirement from a decorated legal career to defending the women he knows were wronged by both the men and society at large. While the film itself was devoid of any low points throughout its duration, its high points became considerably more prominent when Bachchan’s Sehgal character took over the courtroom.
The strongest endorsement I can provide that attests to the strength of the film’s plot is that it doesn’t even showcase said rape until the end credits when the film has already concluded, letting the facial expressions and dialogue tell the story and not resorting to corny-looking flashback scenes. Amitabh’s Sehgal absolutely takes over the film when delivering his defence and closing statement, with powerful messages of the oppression of women in India and the rape culture mentality doing said gender no favour either. I cannot stress this enough: you must watch this film.
I want to say that the description of the plot is sufficient enough as a description of the acting on display but that wouldn’t allow me to rave more about what audiences are treated to. Beginning with Pannu as Minal, audiences sympathize for her character from the get-go, with her character being a mentally –and physically – strong character that is broken down from the constant oppression and society giving her the “she probably asked for it with the way she dressed” spiel. There were audible gasps and tears in the audience as her character’s strength whittled away, which is something that only the best of the best can manage to bring about in audiences by virtue of the strength of their performance.
Co-star Kirti Kulhari enjoys less of the limelight afforded to Pannu but when she is on-screen, she makes it count. There is one particular scene in the courtroom towards the final act of the film that blurred the line between reality and drama, hammering home just how big of an issue rape culture is in India and the subsequent lack of support from the government when victims need it the most.
Bachchan was, as mentioned, the shining star of the film, delivering a virtuoso performance that showcased his range and allowed him to portray a character in the sort of film that he has never really partaken in. He moves from acting using solely his eyes in the first half of the film (a strength shared by Tom Hardy that is not mentioned nearly enough as a quality amongst the best actors in the world) to delivering the type of statements that resonate both emotionally and – hopefully- politically.
If there was a weak link to the crew, and this is only a weak link relative to the strength of the performances from the rest of the crew, it has to be Andrea Tariang’s character. She’s generally not called upon to emote much and is just the third friend in that trio of girls but her lack of presence is noticeable when compared to the sheer magnitude of her co-stars’ performances.
Angad Bedi as Ranveer Singh, Raashul Tandon as “Dumpy,” Tushar Pandey as Vishwa and Vijay Varma as Ankit Malhotra absolutely shine as the privileged villains of the story, abusing their political clout and status as the “superior gender” to both rape and exact revenge using emotional abuse and repeated rape. They deliver a genuinely believable performance as a group, not much different from real-life villains such as the perpetrators of the Delhi Bus Rape a few years ago.
Normally, Bollywood films are judged upon their soundtrack that also tends to incorporate at least one musical number. Pink’s impact would have been lessened with such a move and the decision to have only one overarching score throughout the film was a brilliant decision, veering the film away from Bollywood territory and more towards something that can be considered a faux documentary even.
Pakistani singer Quratulain Balouch delivers a strong song titled “Kaari Kaari,” used at sporadic points throughout the film and in only the most appropriate places. This was a very well-crafted film, down to the absence of any ambient score in scenes where the director wisely chose to allow the talent to emote and tell a story instead of resorting to sound effects.
After the disaster that Akira became when trying to tell a story and combine it with a stinging criticism of modern society, it was wonderful to see something of the utmost quality come forward. I hope, if nothing else, the film gets viewers and audiences around the world talking about gender discrimination and the associated rape culture that hasn’t gone away despite society’s purported advances.
Shoojit Sircar has shot up my list of auteurs to follow in India, with the visionary producer/director having been at the helm of the underrated gem Vicky Donor and last year’s surprise hit Piku amongst some others.
So, to summarize: brilliant acting, brilliant script, brilliant incorporation of a real-world issue all tied up in a neat little package. The fact that it addressed these problems in a courtroom setting earns bonus points from us, being that we are The Film Lawyers, after all. I highly recommend everyone go and watch this film, as its message is too relevant to not be experienced.
We here at The Film Lawyers are proud to award Pink with a grade of A (9.2 / 10).