A Shoojit Sircar production always has something unique and exciting about it. Pink۪ is no different. The trailers and posters were quite exciting to see, delivering a buzz in the industry with the amazing Amitabh Bachchan in a pivotal role. It was perhaps one of the most powerful trailers seen in recent times. Director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury sure delivered an exciting trailer cut for his debut Bollywood project. One would imagine the script of this film to be quite revolutionary for senior Bachchan to sign the project at this age and deliver his charismatic performance with a host of new-to-Bollywood artists along with a debutant director. Thus, one expects this film to be a strong social courtroom drama tacking major issues within the Indian society with possibly a thrilling twist maybe from a crime angle. The film is clearly about women empowerment in India but exact nature of the story is to be discovered when the film releases. The eagerness to find out what the story holds was quite clear in the attending guests and critics at the special film screening organised by distributors Grand Showbiz in central London.
The film opens on a dark night out in Delhi with two groups of friends heading out in cars in different directions. A group of three scared and anxious girls heading back home (including leading lady Taapsee Pannu) and a group of three guys heading to a hospital with one bleeding profusely from the head. An old retired lawyer Deepak (Bachchan), lives opposite the flat the girls live in and is keeping a close watch on the mystery unfolding around the girls daily. The injured boy happens to be a relative of a famous local minister in Haryana and feels he deserves an apology from the girls and revenge thereafter when the girls refuse to drop to their knees and apologise. A series of threats and physiological games follow that destroy normal life for these simple working Delhi girls. When the girls finally decide to complain to the police, they are arrested instead. Neighbour and lawyer, Deepak, decides to intervene having seen what the girls have been through and decides to step back into the court to help these girls only to find this has now become a major social case where the core character of the girls is put in question with the society judging them on basic natural behaviours creating stereotypes to brand these girls as sex workers. Whether the retired lawyer manage to get the girls justice and deliver a social change on how women are treated and branded in the part-modern part-traditional Indian society is to be seen in the cinemas.
The film is a powerful social drama and has a lot of real life basis in the recent highly publicised cases in India like the 2012 gang rape case of Nirbhaya. A lot of degrading and judgemental comments made by prominent personalities and ministers during this case and actually used in the film by Bachchan۪s character to prove in court the sickening mind-set a normal women has to face. ʉwomen should not wear jeans or skirts or dresses, women should not go out alone in the dark, they should not smile at strangers etc are all comments that make an appearance in the court room arguments.
With contrasting cultural situation with recent modernisation with old-skool traditional values, Delhi is the centre of all attention on how women are perceived, judged, branded and treated in the society is the real basis of this film. Sure enough, this is a dark and intense script with a very powerful and important social message. The first half is rather very slow and takes ages to get to the real crux of the story which is the court case. Bachchan is a mere spectator for the first half and almost no dialogues. The film drags as the director tries really hard to piece the circumstances together making it a bit boring initially. The second half of the film is the real deal when the Big B takes over and makes it worth the wait! The film picks pace and becomes interesting as the courtroom drama unfolds but then again starts dragging towards the end. It is more of a sinusoidal wave rather than an exponentially increasing curve which is what a drama-thriller film should have been. Frankly, there is almost no thrill in the story as by the time of interval the case is quite open and clear as to who the guilty party is and what will happen in the end. This is a bit of a let-down but is purely a screenplay issue and is based on the concept of the story at hand.
The language is strong at times and the dialogues are authentic and at no point seem forced or out of place – good job to Ritesh Shah for this. The cinematography and camera work is good but mediocre in a way with not much room to do anything with limited set options being set in a courtroom and some streets of Delhi. But the work of capturing expressions and emotions is stunning at times. There is depth in the footage even in very tight shots within the closed walls of a small courtroom that looks real rather than filmi۪.
With just four songs on the soundtrack album, there is not much room for music in this film. But shockingly even the 4 songs don۪t make an appearance in the final cut for the cinemas with only one song, Kaari Kaari of Shantanu Moitra is there in the background of a few scenes. The background score is quite good overall and helps amplify the drama. Poetry by Tanveer Ghazi in Bachchan۪s voice is quite good at the end and worth sticking back for.
Big B carries the film through entirely on his shoulders. His on-screen personality is so strong that no one comes close to it! Every frame that he is in is captivating with his look, his expressions and his stunning dialogue delivery. Watching him in this film is like watching an acting master class – the man is genius! It would be shocking if he is not nominated for a national award for this film. His look and his character grows with the film as his character gains his confidence coming back from a retirement. He even breaks the monotony of a serious drama by throwing in some easy laughs for the audience within the serious courtroom scenes in a truly effortless fashion.
Piyush Mishra is second best as the lawyer on the other side and does a magnificent job as a crocked barrister. He totally nails the character. Pannu is really good as a leading lady and portrays her character well of a confident Delhi girl who then starts crumbling under the pressure of her circumstances. She could have done a lot better but does a fairly good job in her role. Kirti Kulhari delivers a better and more seasoned performance as such but has a totally different role of a supporting actress and is very convincing in her scenes.
Pink۪ is a very powerful story and a great social message on women rights and empowerment. There is no one better than the great Bachchan to deliver that himself and he does so in a charming way, even at this age. The film suffers from direction and scripting flaws that makes it boring at times but overall it is good watch. It makes the situation looks rather dire on how women are objectified in India but tries to balance it off well in order not to make India look really bad. If one enjoyed No One Killed Jessica۪ (2011) or Damini۪ (1993) or Shaurya۪ (2008) or even the recent Akshay Kumar starrer Rustom۪ (2016) then this is a movie to watch. If one is an Amitabh Bachchan fan then this movie is a definite watch. If one loves good social cause films then this is a must watch. But if one is looking for commercial romance and dance and fun and larger-than-life entertainment then this is not the film to go for this weekend. Overall, Pink۪ is a good film that should get good critical reception and decent footfall in India for sure. It also deserves a few national awards nominations. But will the UK audience be able to relate to this film and enjoy it is something to be seen.
BizAsia Showbiz Rating 3.5/5