Friday, 23 September 2016

Pink: My Body but Amitabh Bachchan's Voice?

Watched 'Pink' directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury. It was horrible. What's wrong with the film? Nothing much except the presence of Amitabh Bachchan. Since it is quite simple and easily explainable let me start with the theatrical release poster itself.

The poster is above. What does the film look like it is about? By the size of images it clearly is about this lawyer who is hovering above the tiny women in the witness stand. What is the film about? It is about these three women fighting a court case against people who sexually harassed and raped them. Dafuq! Then what is this lawyer guy doing in the poster giving that spooky stare? It has a simple term. It's called mansplaining. Amitabh Bachchan's character is mansplaining personified and the actor has done a commendable job playing it. Let us rectify this big mistake right now. When there are women fighting against sexual harassment/ rape the story is about them. So the poster would look something like this. Pardon my bad photoshopping.

How the Poster Should Have Been. Bad Photoshopping by yours truly.

Now let is move on to the next question. Why was Amitabh Bachchan in the film at all. He is supposed to be out of job because he has gone senile or something such. The actor playing the senile lawyer's character is Bollywood's superstar. The story is all about him. So if the idea was to establish Amitabh's character as a Perry Mason who has gone senile the opposition lawyer should have been a superstar as well? Clearly that is not the case in the film.

The scriptwriter seems to have got confused. He first thought 'I'll write a nice feminist piece on women fighting rape'. But since feminism just doesn't reveal itself one day and has to be perfected through years of work, the writer got bored in between. Come on, how long will you say that it is not the woman's fault. Oh wait. Till Amitabh Bachchan enters to tell it in his male voice. Basics, people. Women's voice is not authentic. It acquires authenticity if and only if it is delivered in a male voice. Amitabh Bachchan's voice this time reminded me of the spooky voice of Batman when he turns Batman from Bruce Wayne. I understand that the lawyers' cape sometimes makes you think you're batman, but seriously, processing the voice to assert maleness, ahem, that's kind of a little too much.

However much i try to disregard the presence of this lawyer who was only doing his job by fighting for justice it grips me more tenaciously. Let's think of this old lawyer. He is neighbours with the three girls. He stalks them or stares at them in a very spooky manner. Did he know from the beginning that they were going to be assaulted? If he did, how? Like how the women say during the film, they were just normal working women. Why would a lawyer anticipate that they will be raped? Perhaps by the same logic of the people who raped them? 'Aisi ladkiya' deserve to be raped, so better tip them off now. And when one of them gets raped in the same spooky manner this senile stalker lawyer says 'I told you to be careful'.

Of course, grandpa, everybody asks us to be careful.

I still haven't got why the character of Amitabh's wife was there in the film. She does nothing and then she dies. What was that?!

There were many 'what was that?!' moments in the film for me.

For example, Minal Arora was sexually harassed and she broke a bottle on the guy's head. Later for not budging and making a police complaint, the guy and his friends kidnap her and rape her in a car. So... why was the court case about the first sexual assault alone?

Amitabh Bachchan was refusing to call the incident in car, rape. What was that about?
There was a spooky Hindi poem during the end titles. What was that?
Amitabh Bachchan stares at a cockroach in court. What was that?
What's the deal with his mask? he insane or not? Are insane people allowed to continue as lawyers?

Also in the end titles, the only mystery in the film that i liked, that they did not in any point in the film show what the sexual assault in the rooms looked like, was revealed. They showed everything which happened there in stop motion sort of frames. Why? I'll tell you why. Because India wants to see.
India wants to see how a woman was assaulted even after a court verdict in her favour. Just for their peace of mind. Surely, indian public needs to know if it was all true? There we go again with the feminism. Phew!

Shall conclude by going back to Amitabh Bachchan's character because that is one thing which shouldn't have been in the film at all. Remove him and his wife's weird story, you would have had a great film.

So our lawyer guy saves the girls and everything. But why is it that in the poster, in the trailer and in the film we feel that he is not arguing for the girls, but for the rapists? Along with the rapists' lawyer, he was asking dumb questions as well. Yeah yeah, i know the technique and everything. Make the audience think the man is not with the girls and then make them realize he is talking crap for the benefit of girls. You know where else i have heard that? In abuse.

Ragging, domestic violence, sexual assault, rape in all of these there are repeated occurrences of this line. 'It might hurt now, but in the long run it will help you'. Yeah right, it will help me remember all the shit you did me and in the end i will be handed a paper which says that i was right all the time. That will definitely make victims feel good. What and where is your idea mine, Mr Director? I need to bomb it now.

I'll tell you a grand secret. When a woman decides to fight against anything at all, at home, in school or in court, the story is all about her fighting it. Of course one will have to approach a lawyer if one decides to take it to court. And courts are horrible to women. That is all there is to it. You want to tell the world how it happens, do that. Don't turn women's struggles into that of superstars wearing masks and having an identity crisis if they are in 'Batman' or 'Alien vs. Predator'. Tell you what Shoojit Sircar. Next time you feel the urge to make a women's film, or a women centric film or whatever it is that you call it, come to me. I shall show you exactly where the centre of that circle is, i shall make something worthwhile and shall gift it to you. You just need to pay me.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Professor Biren Das Sharma Died

15th September 2016

Professor Biren Das Sharma died.
I thought a lot if i should write what i want to write about him. There might be a lot if i were to write but somehow when i lost Biren sir from the very small number of people i respect and love in SRFTI, i didn't feel like writing how much i loved him and how he loved his students and how he taught us cinema. I am also not sure if it makes any sense to note that the first time i or may be any of us saw him without a beard was when he was dead and inside the mobile mortuary which came to the institute. I did not cry. The note below is not for the readers. It is for myself because i am paranoid about my memory. I feel that anything which is not recorded will be gone from me with time.

Biren sir - Ragging. Meek and mild and the list of students with pictures given me for my first ever identification parade.
Biren sir - 'Why are you laughing?' Me: 'Because you are laughing, sir' Biren sir: Laughs more
Biren sir - Umberto D
Biren sir - 'My teacher told me that remember in every class that there will be at least one student who has seen one film more than you have and read one book more than you have.'
Biren sir - Look at the girl breaking down in front of you first to the then dean who was not taking any action against Tanmay Agarwal who was torturing two students.
Biren sir - Nilotpal Majumdar, ex-dean had trivialized sexual harassment in faculty meetings
Biren sir - Partha Ghose, Chairperson, had convened a meeting asking all faculty to take action against me for tarnishing the name of the institute and also saying that i am mentally unwell.

Biren sir - Send me your script.
Biren sir - Dead.

Prof. Biren Das Sharma. Photo: Vaibhav Hiwase