Looking back, it's pretty shocking and appalling to see how so many Hindi movies included scenes of sexual harassment mostly for laughs. In fact, they originated terrible concept that the guy always gets the girl even if she is simply not interested in him. Because who cares about consent?
In 2016, however, the conversation changed. Thanks to Shoojit Sircar's Pink, the film taught men and boys what consent really appears like. It was the first mainstream Hindi movie which genuinely emphasised on the importance of listening to a woman.
When it comes to sex and romance in the Hindi movies, male protagonists are rarely shown taking a “no” for an answer. In fact, stalking and gaslighting are depicted as their admirable traits, especially when it comes to the pursuit of women. But not in Sircar's Pink! In his film, the women are making a point to fight the predatory male behaviour.
Pink, directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, follows the story of three working women Meenal Arora (Taapsee Pannu), Falak Ali (Kirti Kulhari) and Andrea Tariang (Andrea Tariang) who meet Rajveer (Angad Bedi) and his friends at a rock concert. But their happening encounter soon turns into a nightmare after Meenal hits Rajveer with a bottle for touching her inappropriately.
Rajveer, who belongs to a high-profile political background, later vows to seek revenge on Meenal by making her life a living hell. His series of cunning moves lead to Meenal's arrest and finally a showdown in the courtroom.
The film's critique of men in power feels like an absolutely necessary counter to the overt sexism and misogyny that is present in our culture. But perhaps more than anything else, the film delves deep into the human instinct to pass judgment on others, especially when those 'others' are women. Scenes where Meenal and her flatmates are constantly taunted about coming late from work, partying and drinking with men, speak volumes about the pervasiveness of gender bias.
Pink brutally dissects the misplaced entitlement of men, and in fact, goes beyond the surface to confront how problematic ideals of toxic masculinity intersect with other privileges in these powerful men's lives. Take, for example, a scene where Rajveer tells the court that he thought Meenal was inviting him for sex because she was constantly touching him while talking and even drinking with him at the night of the incident.
In another scene where a devastated Falak testifies falsely that they took money from Rajveer and his friends for the night following the latter's prosecutor's repetitive attacks on her character-- the film accurately depicts why silence is central to women's history.
Moreover, Pink contributes to one of the most complex and thoughtful portrayals of women in recent memory. It is as entertaining and gripping as it is enlightening. Though it released almost four-and-a-half years back, it couldn’t feel more fresh.