Pink (Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, 2016), or whose story is it?

Pink’ is a textbook example of the pitfalls of making a film as a star vehicle v/s making a film to tell a story. Increasingly, mainstream Hindi films are only about the stars. I guess the producer and director spend so much time and energy chasing the star to agree to do their film, that when they do get the star, they must milk his/her presence on screen. So most films concentrate only on the tracks of the stars, or star, and make sure that they are in every frame of the film. After all, you are selling a brand, and so the brand has to be in the foreground in each frame of the film. Subliminal allusions are passé. The star is after all only a product, a product that sells.

So, ‘Pink’ which presumably is the story of 3 young working girls, flat-mates in Delhi, charged with the assault of a young man who allegedly molested one of them, becomes instead the story of a manic-depressive retired lawyer with a terminally sick wife who takes charge of the girls’ case and fights it for them, while they flounder around helplessly, inarticulate and only emotional in their responses.

Because the story has to lead up to a grand performance by the star, it does not allow a natural, organic unraveling of events, a close examination of characters and their motives and their contexts, leading to a natural, organic climax. Instead the story telling is contrived, creating false tension and a disputable suspense with the overuse of background music, and far too many cuts. The pauses added to create gravitas presumably also balance more in the favour of the star than the characters whose story has been hijacked.

So, what you get is not mise-en-scene, or the dynamics of different characters, courage that swings up and down with pressures that build up, contradictions within a character, the story itself. What you get is the star telling you at the end of the film, in his perfectly pitched voice what the story was all about.

Edited to add: I don’t have a problem with mainstream films. Or even stars for that matter. We have made good films with stars earlier. In the mainstream. The problem is that these days most of the films become only about the stars, at the cost of the story and the film. And I think it does injustice even to the star. Nobody can be a good actor on their own, without a well balanced script and cast. A well written script is a much better vehicle for a star, don’t you think?

Time to repost one of Teja’s drawings from the Star series.

the-star

11 thoughts on “Pink (Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, 2016), or whose story is it?

  1. Couldn’t agree more. It eventually became a theatrical performance of Big B and Piyush Mishra in the most cliched court-room drama kind of a way. The girls never came out as heros that they could’ve been. Very conveniently mounted on Big B’s old shoulders.

  2. Banno, watched the film yesterday, and I must disagree with you – I didn’t feel the girls’ stories had been hijacked, or that they were left voiceless while Bachchan took centrestage. On the contrary, I found that, emotional or not, inarticulate or not, the girls were still standing up for themselves. Bachchan provided the support, and indeed, was almost diffident initially. I thought the director did a great job of reining him in, not even allowing the famed baritone its day in the sun (until the credits). I think the only scene it came out a little more forcefully was in the ‘Are you a virgin, Miss Arora?’ scene. The only part I didn’t really care for, and that’s still a minor quibble, was the ‘rules’.

    We watched this yesterday in a theatre that was packed with women, and not one of us got up until after the screen went dark. It was a pretty intense experience. 🙂

    1. Anu, I think most viewers felt very moved by the film. And the scenes which you mention, were in fact, the crowd pullers. I did find the film lopsided in its treatment of Mr. Bachchan’s character. But then, it’s good to have varying opinions on a film. At least, it brought forth so many discussions.

  3. I haven’t seen Pink, so will not comment on that. But I did see Mohenjodaro and what you say about Pink holds water there totally. The movie had to rest solely on Hritik’s shoulders, there were no supporting roles of any depth, except perhaps Kabir Bedi. A movie cannot be made with just one person, you need plenty of good support. I saw Rustom right after watching Mohenjodaro and it was so well made (it had flaws, yes, but was well made). Lots of characters and atmosphere.

    1. Yes, thandapani, you are right. Mohenjo Daro was a massive fail, because of the same reasons. I missed Rustom, but a lot of people told me that it worked better.

  4. Despite the inadequacies, Pink did work for me. I loved the landlord who refused to be intimidated despite the bullying he faced, the scenes of the neighbourhood, the camaraderie between the girls. A strong female lawyer might have made it far more satisfying, though.

    1. Dipali, I think the girls and the landlord were great. But after a point the story got hijacked by AB. Not his fault of course, and I have nothing against using a star. I think it’s important to have a star to tell some stories. I only have a grievance when you give undue weightage to the star, at the cost of your story. But it did work for most people. And it sparked off some discussions. So that’s good.

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