There is much to marvel at and appreciate in this week’s release, Pink – an intelligent and well-crafted screenplay that is deftly and assuredly brought to life by the director; and every department, whether cinematography, editing, background score or art direction, working in tandem to flesh out the authenticity of the milieu and add great value to the cinematic experience.
Commendable, too, are the fabulous performances all across the board. Taapsee Pannu truly comes of age with this film and it is not just the other key actors like Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Piyush Mishra, Angad Bedi, Dhritiman Chatterjee and Vijay Varma who leave an impact, but also the cast members playing minor roles in terms of screen time.
And then, of course, there is the layered tour de force by the legendary Mr Bachchan who, somehow, keeps managing to surprise and delight us after almost five decades of lighting up the cinema screen.
However, even though all of these elements are collectively and even by themselves reason enough to watch the film, what makes Pink even more important is the powerful message it delivers, and the way it delivers it – without resorting to melodrama or leaning on cinematic clichés.
And what Pink has to say is undoubtedly most pertinent: the double standards
faced by women every day and everywhere, even in the so-called educated and cosmopolitan metros.
In saying what it has to say, and very effectively and eloquently at that, Pink serves as a reminder to those who often criticise our films as being unrealistic and meaningless entertainers, that Hindi cinema can, and often does, serve as a social document of its times and the concerns of the so-called common man.
Indeed, you can pick up any social/political/cultural issue that currently affects the nation at large and chances are that you will find a recent film that has touched upon it – from a shared yearning to bring terrorists to justice (Baby, D-Day), the menace of growing drug abuse (Udta Punjab), the poison of communalism (Kai Po Che), the all-pervading curse of corruption (Gabbar Is Back, Manjhi – The Mountain Man), the deficiencies of our legal system (Jolly LLB), the dark reality of incest (Highway), the urgent need to protect the environment (The Flying Jatt), the friction that inter-caste marriages still cause in our society (2 States), prejudices against those of alternative sexual orientation (Aligarh), the restrictive role of gender stereotyping (Ki & Ka), the horrific practice of ‘honour’ killings (NH10), urban angst and loneliness (The Lunchbox), to the complex problems in Kashmir that have been all over the news lately (Haider).
This is by no means an exhaustive list and perhaps there is no better proof of contemporary cinema indeed having its heart in the right place than the filmography of the most successful director of our time, Rajkumar Hirani.
Mr Hirani’s body of work may consist of only four directorial releases so far but that elite list includes the highest grosser ever in Hindi cinema and the first to collect over Rs.300 crore at the domestic box office, PK; as also the first Hindi film to go past the Rs.200-crore mark, 3 Idiots.
The common thread running through all of Mr Hirani’s films – besides the fact that they are all commercial successes with each subsequent release outdoing the collections of the previous film – is that all of them, at their core, address an important and current social issue. So if Munna Bhai MBBS cast its eye on the dehumanising of the most intimately humane profession, healthcare; Lage Raho Munna Bhai was a comment on a nation losing touch with the Gandhian ideals that brought it its freedom. Similarly, 3 Idiots explored the current state of our education system that has become a rat race for higher grades rather than a genuine pursuit of knowledge, while PK drew attention to the ills of superstition and blind faith that a distorted understanding of religion can lead to.
One dares say that the films mentioned above have been way more effective in spreading awareness about, and sensitising people to, the respective issue that each addressed rather than the tax-funded ‘public interest’ campaigns commissioned by sarkaari bodies. Though, of course, you wouldn’t know that from the very ‘special’ treatment our industry gets when it comes to government policies and encouragement!
Be that as it may, those mourning the death of a social conscience in our narratives can cry another day. On the evidence of what’s currently playing in cinemas across India, it’s in the Pink of health!