This is the time of the year when people like me are busy trying to hurry up with their year-end list compilations before heading out to celebrate the entry of the New Year. Usually I do try to go in for an in depth analysis of Indian Cinema, looking at the major happenings of the year in nearly all the dominant film industries, both Hindi and regional. But of late I’ve been caught up with all sorts of stuff; as a result I ended up being unable to come up with my mandatory year end posts for 2017, the one on Indian Cinema and the other one on Malayalam Cinema specifically. Hence I’ve decided that it’s time to play it wisely and focus mainly on the lists in particular and not the detailed anlysis. Why miss out on doing something that I am fond of altogether?Continue reading “The Best of Indian Cinema in 2018: A Perspective”
All of us are becoming increasingly impatient. Before you even read this review, you perhaps want to know whether you should watch Ae Dil Hai Mushkil or not; and if the film is worth all the hype and expectations. I usually reserve this verdict for the later part of the review but considering this is the season of Diwali generosity and more importantly some things need to be stated first up, I will answer that coveted question by putting forth a single argument or plea. if you want to call it that.Continue reading “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Movie Review: Except for the Last 30 Minutes, the Film is a Total Hoot”
Pink – A Review
Directed by: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury Written by: Ritesh Shah
Starring: Amitabh Bacchan
Sometimes a film comes that taps into some of the core issues of the prevalent society, issues that have already been hotly debated and discussed. When such a film comes from a producer known for making daring, different films (Shoojit Sircar of Piku, Vicky Donor, Madras Cafe), directed by a 2 time national award winner making his first foray into Bollywood (Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury of Antaheen and Anuranan) and starring a septuagenarian colossus of Indian Cinema who is still an audience catcher (The BigB, enuf said), it is only expected that hype around this movie release will hit the roof.
But when hype hits the roof, opinion on the film (so aptly named Pink) can sometimes get “colored” by a different shade. And so when glowing reviews kept pouring in about a pioneering brave work, and expectations rising ever higher, yours humbly tried to approach the movie cautiously, to watch it with a neutral lens while keeping expectations and emotions in check.
The good news is that the film doesn’t disappoint overall, but one is left to wonder whether the film really deserves all the accolades for its bravura. But more on that later. The plot is pretty straightforward (minor spoilers in this paragraph) – a group of single working girls get entangled in an attempt at molestation by 3 Delhi boys, where one of the girls injures his molester in self-defence. Constituting the first half of the film (and probably the better half), what follows is very urban girl’s nightmare in a patriarchal society, as they get constantly harassed by the boys thirsting for revenge, nor do they get any support from the Police, work-place or near-ones. Suffocated by social stigma, the role of victim and oppressor gets intermingled, as the Girls are accused of attempted murder. It is at this point, Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan), a retired lawyer suffering from bipolar disorder with an ailing wife (Mamata Shankar), who has till then been a silent spectator to the girls’ troubles, decides to represent them as their defence counsel (the 2nd half of the film).
Armed with a theme that has been the talking point of the media and social networks in the last few years, Aniruddha Roychowdhury paces the film well with a 1st half that looks like is a slowly concocted suspense thriller where we find the victims and protagonists being gradually choked by the after-effects of their traumatic experience. From the opening sequence, the film grips you with a gently piercing background score, building up the tension, while the audience wonders what really could have happened that unfortunate night. Amitabh Bacchan (who eerily looks like an aged stalker) seems to be a brooding spectator as the girls’ next door neighbour, till he finally decides to take matters into his own hands. While Pink on a broad level bears some resemblance to the Hollywood film The Accused (featuring a stunning and explosive performance from Jodie Foster), the scenario and response of the characters are quintessentially of an Indian society. While the Accused was more violent, shocking and graphic, Pink avoids being in your face and never shows the actual events but references them through the statements of the defendants. Also, while Jodie Foster’s reaction was more of rage, the 3 girls in Pink are shown more helpless as they are not only up against their assailants, but the encompassing society which does not sympathise.
However, the film’s level falls off in the 2nd half as becoming too preachy and stereotypical. As a consequence of Amitabh Bacchan’s several court room dialogues, the audience is literally force fed the evils of patriarchy and the meaning of consent. Boys shouldn’t construe girls drinking and partying as an indication of being “easy” and ready; the girls also said “No! Nada! Zip”, hence there is no question of consent. It kind of feels squeamish when a film needs to spell out each and every item as if schooling a society with the emotional intelligence of a kindergardener. Some people may argue that given the kind of disgraceful acts that even our urban society can stoop to, this spelling out of everything seems to have become necessary. What’s worth debating though is if the target audience is even reached by such a film, as the film is unlikely to appeal to such people. Which then necessitates that the film at least plays a more generic role in educating the society, but then again it will be watched more by a relatively mature society who are already well aware of such societal malaises prevalent through the media. In that sense, the film is hardly a social zeitgeist as it has been made out to be by various sections of the media.
The acting of the film was par for the course. Big B was mostly brooding in the film, with occasional flashes of brilliance in the court room scenes. For an evergreen actor, one can still be appreciative of his performance, if it weren’t for the very similar style of acting that he had earlier showcased (and probably better in Te3n). Someone who has seen Te3n would feel he is seeing the same person in Pink, although the characters are entirely different. One wonders if Mr.Amitabh Bacchan is playing the same thing regardless of character (even if the same thing is still pretty good). The 3 actresses give decent performances at best, with Kirti Kulhari standing out. Dhritiman Chatterjee looked aged as the Judge with the quavering voice (not too sure if that was deliberate).
But what is new and refreshing is the depiction of such themes in the Bollywood mainstream. In a year where we have seen Bollywood mainstream go bold with releases like Udta Punjab, Pink can be another feather in its otherwise pretty threadbare cap. Like the old classic and one of the best courtroom dramas, Anatomy of a Murder (1959), was outright in its time with its frank discussion on rape and sexual themes, it took Bollywood mainstream another 50 years to give the setting for such films to come (while bold themes have been prevalent in parallel cinema like Bandit Queen, Matribhoomi, they weren’t part of a mainstream release). On the creative side, the strong points of the film was undoubtedly the musical score with its blend of piano melody mingled with phases of intensity as if portending the audience of something sinister lurking in the background. The editing was also taut, at least during the 1st half.
Overall, Pink is another bold release in a line of Bollywood releases vindicating the fact that the mainstream is maturing over the last few years. While much has been said of the film as a social commentary, I would hardly think the film is an eye opener on a facet of society that has been sufficiently put on the scanner. Rather than being a pioneer, Pink is more of a follower of this trend. One also can’t help but feel the irony that in an unforgiving patriarchal society comprising of roguish boys and women who have conformed to such a setting (like the female police deputy), it is finally up to the ageing patriarch, who finally decides to come out of his brooding shell in an attempt to restore some semblance of parity. The movie poster also shows Big B towering over the 3 defenceless girls with a rather dominating gesture. In a theme about women empowerment and liberalisation, this seems rather out of place (The Accused had a female lawyer Michelle Pfeiffer). Eventually, Pink is still part of Bollywood mainstream, and Big Stars still attract big audience.
So, let’s not get ahead of ourselves in showering our praise, but give credit where it’s due. Pink is not a pioneering film per se; there have been lesser known but more pioneering and relevant films depicting such issues outside the mainstream, like Matrubhoomi or even Bandit Queen. While we admit that gender bias and molestation is a malaise in urban Indian society, the inequality prevalent in rural India is of far more alarming proportions. Depicting rural India may not be as eye catching, so films showcasing these issues are socially relevant and deserve more attention. I’ll also be hoping to write a review on Parched (Radhika Apte in a bold performance), a film on gender inequality in rural India that went under the radar due to the Pink hype, if I get the time.
While quoting the title of Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing may seem to be too harsh a statement on Pink, it is nevertheless true, especially given the hype that was build up around the film. Rather let’s just say it’s a relevant film that resonates with the membrane of today’s society.
My rating: 3.0/5 (maybe +0.5 to be generous)
(a self-proclaimed cinephile)
This has been an unusually long dry spell for an average Bollywood lover. Barring an intermittently funny Happy Bhag Jayegi, there has hardly been any film in the last month or so that has managed to register its presence in our minds – forget about leaving an impression. Midst of all the blues, comes director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Pink – a film with an odd title but an intriguing enough trailer to raise a few hopes. And by the end of its runtime, the film not just exceeds your hopes but also reinstates your faith in the good, old Bollywood and its ability to churn out meaningful, powerful stories.Continue reading “Pink Movie Review: The Film Leaves the ‘Modern Society’ Red-faced”
If only a gifted actor and a promising idea could guarantee an engaging film – Madaari would have gone down as a winner. But alas, gifts and promises are not always a precursor to happy endings. Are they? And in that sense, films and relationships have so much in common.Continue reading “Madaari Movie Review: Why not stay with Irrfan and his haunting eyes? Revolution could have waited.”
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey; Written by: Sudip Sharma
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh
Udta Punjab would go down as one of the most talked about movies from Bollywood even before it was actually screened, our own desi version of Passion of the Christ, if you will. So instead of delving on the entire saga from CBFC’s preposterous treatment of the film for so-called “profanities and mature content” (I didn’t know Udta Punjab was a pioneering film in this regard, but let’s stay politically correct, shall we) to the controversial leak at the time of release, let’s instead review the film itself for a change.Continue reading “Udta Punjab Movie Review: A Film That Flew for the Stars but got the Moon”
There is nothing quite as entertaining as a good controversy. And if this controversy involves Bollywood and the Government, you can be sure of the news channels having their fill of this TRP fodder until the movie finally releases (Or if it does, in most cases). Abhishek Chaubey, who made most viewers sit up and take notice with a crackling debut in Ishqiya, and followed it up with Dedh Ishqiya, a sequel that outshone the original, moves away from the badlands of Uttar Pradesh into the lush green fields of Punjab, and shows us the underbelly of the drug mafia that seems to have eaten away at the Punjabi youth and in the process, drives away in the opposite direction of the Yash Chopra school of filmmaking. But, is Udta Punjab a piece of mediocre cinema trying to stay in the limelight through a never-ending stream of controversies, or is it truly that subversive piece of mainstream cinema that has the censor board frothing at the mouth?Continue reading “Udta Punjab Movie Review: Flight Of the Phoenix”
So, who was scared/wary of Udta Punjab and its supposedly ‘damaging content’?
When I saw the film today, midst all the surround sound and fury, this question kept coming to my mind every now and then – like how ‘hurt’ keeps coming back to haunt fragile Indian sentiments. Because an hour into the film and you realize that it has nothing, absolutely nothing that can damage the reputation of Punjab or the dwellers of that state. More importantly, the film never ever glorifies substance abuse, it rather showcases horrors of addiction in such a naked, brutal manner that even an average cigarette smoker (cigarette that contains only tobacco and nothing else) would also be shaken.Continue reading “Udta Punjab Movie Review: The High of Coming Out of a Theater Feeling Low”
There are some films which are so bad and unpalatable that you want to find the makers, hold them by their collars and whisper in their ears, “Thank you! That was so disgusting, I actually kind of liked it!” Hate Story 3 falls under this rare, coveted category – nauseating and headache-inducing to such an extent that you want to thank God for all the good things in your life.Continue reading “Hate Story 3 Movie Review: This One Deserves all the Hatred in Your Heart”