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Pink Review: It Is A Modern Masterpiece!

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Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Tapsee Pannu,Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang

Directed by: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury

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How many films have you seen where you forget you are watching a film, where the line dividing the audience from the characters get so blurred as to make the distinction almost redundant?

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Pink sucks us so deep into its characters’ lives that we come away breathess and anxious.For almost ten minutes after the end-titles I couldn’t move from my seat. I had just seen what three  Delhi girls had gone through because they decided to have a fun night out after a rock concert with some boys .In Meenal(Tapsee Pannu), Falak(KirtiKilhari) and Andrea(Andrea Tariang) I saw all our daughters, grappling with the befuddled notions of  What Men Can Do, What Women Can’t Do and what happens when women do what men say, women can’t do.

Pink is a very important film, and not only because it addresses gender issues with such caustic elan , biting away at patriarchal prejudices with such skill and efficiency that we don’t even realize how much of the indictment the narrative presents against patriarchal bullying.

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It all comes out in a tumble in a rousing courtroom finale where the aging but still sharp lawyer DeepakSahgal(Amitabh Bachchan) with a dying wife(Mamata Shankar) in the hospital,  provokes the spoilt rich politician’s  scion(Angad Bedi, sufficiently credible) to say why it is ok to force yourself on a certain type of “loose” women even if they say no to your advances.

But then  here’s where the narrative plays out greatest lesson without glee or glory: when a woman says no to sex, it is no.

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Period. So stop right there. Just because that girl you’ve been staring at for much more than 14 seconds is wearing a short skirt and laughing loudly and drinking and cracking a dirty joke at a party where “nice” girls are not allowed, it doesn’t mean she can be forced to have sex with you.

It would have been the easiest thing in the world to draw sharply polarized moral sides in the battle between the victims and the predators, the three hapless Delhi girls and their lecherous uncivil hedonistic attackers…that would have been the film which director Aniruddha Roy Choudhuri could have made if he wanted his film and the audience to remain in the comfort zone.

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Pink takes us beyond , far beyond,black and white. Into an area of exposition  on gender discrimination where it is hard to deify the victims and demonize the aggressors.This is where this film scores much higher than other remarkable treatise on Sex & The Single Girl. The three protagonists in Pink are no lip-biting sympathy-seeking urban cowgirls. They’ve their weaknesses, their blind spots .They like their fun. But must they pay for it?

They stand up to that one truth which the Big B’s legal rhetorics help us ingest: a girl can be any way she wants to be. She could have sex with as many partners as she likes. She still has full authority over her body . So next time  a guy thinks a woman is  of “that sort” he should think again.

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Pink grabs our collective biases and age-old notions about permissible boundaries for feminine behaviour by the shoulder and shakes them hard. This a film that can change gender equations in our society. The first-half creates an atmosphere of terror through little scenes that convey so much of the truth about gender inequality and sexual politics without sweating over the drama generated in cinema of this sort. The background score is minimal and mellow, almost scoffing at our perception of  High Drama associated with cinema on male oppression. AveekMukhopadhyay’s camerawork is so majestically unobtrusive it takes us into the heart of Delhi without getting emotionally drenched in the journey.

The narrative is constantly in a hurry to get on with the story. Yet there are poignant pauses in the plot…like the time when Mr Bachchan and Tapsee are jogging she covers her face with her jacket’s hood after a passerby makes a comment, and he uncovers it.

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Ritesh Shah’s dialogues question flagrantly patriarchal values with  cool authority. Mr Bachchan’s sardonic arguments in the courtroom are specially edgy and devastating.

This brings us to the performances. Each actor big or small brings such vast amounts of credibility to his or her part that you are left with a feeling of having witnessed a surge of unostentatious excellence. The neglected KirtiKulhari comes into her own as  Falak with a lot to conceal in her life . Kulhari plays the character with such moral equity she leaves us no room to judge her blemishes. Her breakdown in the courtroom will shake every member of the audience, man woman or child.

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In contrast Tapsee Pannu  who plays the main target of gender assault sheds no tears. She conveys her character’s textured torment with an austerity of expression that is remarkable. Andrea as the  girl from Meghalaya who gets caught in the vortex of a murky scandal is the portrait of vulnerability.

But it is finally the mighty Bachchan who holds the key to this remarkable film’s incontestable power and efficacy. He  is the voice of reason and the conscience of a morality tale where right and wrong are not easily identifiable. Yet when he sets forth reasons as to why a no from a woman means no,we are looking not at a rousing courtroom performance but a voice that ricochets through generations of patriarchal smugness.

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Pink offers us no easy comforting solutions to  the issue of women’s safety.Should a city girl feel safe with a guy who is well-dressed and from a well-to-do family? Is it okay to be friendly with a man a girl hardly knows?  Pinkposes questions and leaves the answers hovering in the sphere of intangibility.  Gripping from the word go Pinkpossesses an emotional velocity regarding the theme of  violating a woman’s private space that we last saw in TapanSinha’s Adalat O Ekti Meye.

That was 30 years ago.As we can see in  Pink things haven’t changed much  over the years for women in this country. Gosh, is Pink the best film we’ll see this year. It probably is. So don’t even think about giving it a miss.

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Don’t walk out during the end-titles you will miss out on two vital experience. Of knowing what really happened “that night” and of hearing the Bachchan baritone recite Tanveer Qausi’s powerful poetry on feminine awakening.

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Rakesh Roshan: “Everything I  Know  About Acting & Direction, I Learnt From K Vishwanathji”

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Rakesh Roshan

The  mighty moviemaker K Vishwanath who  was to Telugu cinema what  Satyajit Ray  was  to Bengali cinema,  passed  away on February 2,leaving behind a luminous  legacy.

Acto-director Rakesh Roshan  who had  the  rare honour of working  in four projects  with  Vishwanath recalls him with tremendous respect. “Everything I know  about acting and  direction I learnt from  him. He was  a stalwart , an institution, and so passionate about his work. I had the privilege  of being directed  by him in two films Aurat Aurat Aurat  and Shubh Kamna. He would show  his actors  exactly what he  wanted, down to the minutest gesture.His  understanding  of the medium was  extraordinary.”

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Rakesh Roshan remembers how  he  invited Vishwanath to make films for him. “I produced  two films that Vishwanathji directed. One  was Kaamchor, the other was Jaag Utha  Insaan.While the  first was  a runaway success, the second didn’t do well.”

Speaking on how Kaamchor happened Rakesh recalls, “Vishwanathji and I used to meet socially in Hyderabad.We  wanted to work together. But we had  no script.One evening when we met he  looked very depressed. When I asked him what was wrong, he  said his new release Shubodayam  (in Telugu) had  flopped. That  night I went to see Shobodayam  in  a theatre in Hyderabad. The  next morning I  told Vishwanathji, ‘We’ve  found our script’. I told him where  the  storytelling in Shubhodayam  had gone wrong.We corrected the script and that’s how Kaamchor  happened. Although the entire story revolved  around me,  it was Jaya Prada who benefited  from Kaamchor.”

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About the beautiful  Jaag Utha Insaan , Rakesh Roshan admits  bluntly, “It  flopped because  of miscasting. During those days Sridevi was known  in Hindi cinema as a glamorous heroine. We cast her as classical dancer. Mithun Chakraborty had  the image  of  Gun Master G-9 and  Disco Dancer.We cast him as  a downtrodden  underdog. I was  known  for Kaamchor and  other citybred characters,I was cast as a Brahmin pandit.With other actors Jaag Utha  Insaan would have been a superhit”

Rakesh met K Vishwanath six years  ago. “We were shooting for Krissh in Hyderabad. He came on  the set several  times. We  had so much to say to each other. After that we lost contact. He was  very very busy with many projects. K Vishwanathji lived  for his cinema.”

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As His Latest Work Faraaz Releases Today,  Hansal Mehta Speaks To Subhash  K Jha On The Exciting Times Ahead

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Faraaz

Hansal, Faraaz is  your fifteenth directorial  venture. How does it feel to have come so far  with so many  milestones behind you?

don’t count my films. Genuinely. Every film is a new beginning. Every film has its share of uncertainty and nerves. Perhaps it is also because of the choices I make. There is no scope for either complacency or me carrying a false sense of security. I’m not complaining,though. Living life on the edge keeps me going.

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I  consider  Faraaz to be  a part of your great trilogy on  the dynamics  of terrorism, after  Shahid and  Omerta…where do you see Faraaz  positioned  in your creative ambit?

Thank you , Subhash.Faraaz is a film I’m very, very proud of. It was a challenge to pull off, a tough journey but creatively a very satisfying one. As Rajkummar Rao told me after watching the film , the Trilogy is complete now. Time to explore new stories and new characters. And finish post-production for all the exciting things that we shot for over the past eighteen months.

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Out of curiosity which of your films  have given you  the most creative  satisfaction?

Almost every film Shahid onwards has been immensely satisfying , both in terms of process and the outcome. Save a couple that I need not name. But even those I own for all their flaws, failures, deficiencies and redeeming qualities. But Faraaz has been a great process. I’ve made so many new friends in this journey and found some of the most exciting colleagues that I’m proud to introduce through the film. Writers Raghav Kakkar and Kashyap Kapoor (who co-wrote the film with Ritesh Shah), Cinematographer Pratham Mehta, Sound Designer Mandar Kulkarni, Editor Amitesh Mukherjee, co-producers Sahil, Maz and Sakshi – all of whom have given their blood and sweat to make this film happen. And of course Anubhav Sinha one of my oldest friends in the industry who backed me in telling this story just the way I wanted it. So yes, Faraaz has been satisfying and also filled me with a deep sense of gratitude. I must have done something right, no?

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Of course. Faraaz has a lot of young new actors in it. Tell me  about the  process  of  casting in this film? It couldn’t have been easy since there are dozens  of faces?

That was the challenge and the joy of making this film. I worked on the story during Chhalaang and I always knew that it would be a return to my indie roots for Faraaz. The film had to be made. And it needed fresh faces, bereft of image or trappings of stardom. A huge credit to Mukesh Chhabra who has a huge role to play in my filmography since Shahid. We constantly challenge each other and never ever give up. Casting is a process I really enjoy and finding the right talent to bring characters alive is something I thrive upon. Faraaz has an amazing ensemble. Right from Aditya Rawal , Zahan Kapoor, Juhi Babbar to every small character in the film including the officers, parents and the hostages this one is a triumph of honest casting , casting without an eye on profits, simply in service of the film, of the character.

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Faraaz is  about a terror attack in Bangladesh?how  do you respond to those who want to know, why Bangladesh?

In our research of this dastardly attack we realised that here was a story that had a larger message and something very universal to share. Misguided youth taking up violence in the name of religion or a parent’s love for her child or the unexpected bravery from an unlikely hero are themes that cannot be limited by borders, nationality or language. These stories must be told. They must transcend the limitations of perceived local relevance – particularly when our polarised times need such stories to be told to a larger audience.

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In 2020, your OTT series Scam 1992  proved to  b e game changer. Do you see Scam as a turning point  in your career?

I see Scam 1992 as an enabler. We did not expect its humongous success and to say it did not change things would be fake humility. It gave me back a lot of things I had lost in the years before it released. Including some money. And the courage to tell the stories I desperately wanted to. Also exceptional friends and collaborators like Sameer Nair and his Studio Applause.

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Your films  and your  attitude to cinema has always  been fearless. How  do you  cope with the  threat of growing intolerance in our society  vis a  vis your  convictions as a  filmmaker?

It is not new to me. Remember Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar in 2000? The only difference now is that then I was deeply affected by the intolerance to a point of self destruction. Now I channelise my despair and anger into telling relevant stories and through them taking on those who have made it a business to be intolerant.

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To Attend Siddharth-Kiara’s Destination Wedding, Karan Johar Preponed His Twins’s Birthday  Bash

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Siddharth-Kiara’s

For those  who are  wondering why Karan Johar hosted  the grand birthday party for his  twins Roohi and  Yash who will  turn 6 on 7 February,  six days in  advance  on 1  February  here is  why:  on the day of his twins’ birthday,  Karan  will be in Rajasthan attending the wedding celebrations of his dear friends  Siddharth Malhotra  and Kiara Advani who are  getting married on  February 6.

 Reveals   a friend close  to  Karan,  “Karan was in a dilemma. To him there is  nothing more important than his  children’s happiness.  How could he break their hearts by skipping  the most important day of their  lives? At the same time, how could he  not attend Siddharth and Kiara’s wedding ? They are  very close to him.”

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Karan did the best thing possible to resolve the situation:  he put the dilemma before his children Yash and Juhi who happily  agreed  to  have their party  a few days in advance so their ‘Dada’  could  attend  his friends’ wedding.

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The  Big Independence Day Clash To Be Averted?

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Animal and Sunny Deol’s  long-awaited Gadar 2

Sunny Deol, John Abraham  Ranbir  Kapoor  and the Covid Vaccine are all set to clash at the boxoffice this  Independence Day .

While the  Ranbir Kapoor starrer Animal and Sunny Deol’s  long-awaited Gadar sequel  are  both scheduled  for release  on August  11, John Abraham’s  Tariq  releases three days later on August 15.On the same day  Vivek(The Kashmir Files) also  releases  The Covid Vaccine.

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It looks  like  a crowded weekend, with one too many releases for audiences to  choose from.

Apparently  intense discussions are on among the  producers of the four  big films to see how the clutter can be  resolved.

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A  source close to the  development says, “Gadar 2 is the  right fit for the Independence Day weekend. But the producers of Animal  are in no mood to move  from August 13 . John  who is  a co-producer  on Tariq  and Vivek  Agnihotri with his Covid Vaccine  are also adamant  on coming on   August 15.The  Independence Day weekend is  a long  weekend. So let’s see…”

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