Pink is the old Black

Published: Tue, 10/18/2016 - 09:33

I saw the movie Pink only because social media was buzzing with accolades. This, however, is not a review of the movie but a review of India’s patriarchal mindset. And as for our police force – bah. They don’t work for us, the aam aadmi, as you well know – they work for their political masters.

Pink is about three single working women in Delhi who have a run-in with a bunch of well-connected men (the usual ‘uncle is a sleazy politician’ nonsense that almost every Indian citizen has to put up with). The harassment these women have to endure after they file an FIR is the usual too. Remember, we live in the land of ridiculous FIRs where people can be arrested for posts on social media, tattoos of Hindu gods and goddesses on their ankles, or for merely saying that ordinary Pakistani citizens are decent people a few days after a lethargic politician wakes up from his Goan fish curry and rice siesta, announces that “Pakistan is hell”, and goes back to sleep. The cops willingly accept these. However, if you try to file an FIR for domestic violence, you go through trauma and nine out of 10 times you go home with your violent husband. Not because you choose to, but because the police force wants you to. I know this first-hand after I helped a woman who used to work for me. I’m told that you can laugh at everything in retrospect, but I suspect even a faint smile won’t play on my lips when I recollect this incident decades down the line.

Anyway, in the movie, the great Mr Bachchan’s dialogue was far better than his acting skills – he played himself and even though he was wearing a doggie muzzle-like training mask, I couldn’t help but see a shady Panama hat glowering over his head instead. His script writer says things we’ve been saying for ages, like, you don’t ask for rape when you wear skimpy clothes or consume alcohol, the word no means no, et cetera, and slams small-minded men. I really wish Mr Bachchan would repeat this dialogue to his politician buddies. It’s easy to find out who they are: just think which party is in the best place to help him right now? Ah, yes, the BJP is the flavour of the month. How wonderful if he could convince those ridiculously regressive men in general, and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar  in particular, to open their tiny minds. Mr Khattar deserves special mention because he said that girls who wear tight jeans and short skirts may as well roam around naked. Too bad Mr Bachchan is fighting with his former buddy, UP de jure chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav of “Forgive rapists, boys will be boys” fame, because he deserves to hear this dialogue too. Go on, bol, Bachchan!

I’m not revealing how the movie ends on the screen, but how it ended for me. I overheard a member of the audience say: “Normal working girls don’t go to a room with a strange man. Undignified behaviour. They aren’t behaving like girls, they are behaving like tomboys. They deserve what they get.” To add to my incredulity, this woman had a pucca ‘convent-educated’ accent, wore Fab India gear and looked like an enthusiastic volunteer at an NGO run by rabid lefty feminists. You know, the sort of woman who happily spends hours every single day waiting for the tardy SHO of the special ladies police station to arrive, and whose idea of a fabulous outing is going on a protest march and screaming “Inquilab zindabad” at the top of her voice.

I regret to report that there were murmurs of assent from the people she was with. In that instant, Pink became Black for me.

This story is from print issue of HardNews