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Bollywood Film “Pink” focuses on India’s Struggle with sexual violence against Women

Playing to packed halls, the movie underlines India's struggle with patriarchal attitudes and the need for a male-dominated society to respect choices women make

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Shohini Ghosh, a professor of mass communication at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, says the most radical message of "Pink" is that "it is not just a question of [a woman's] right to say no [to sexual advances], but the right to say no even when your sexual conduct may be trangressive of normative conventions." VOA
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The Bollywood film “Pink,” which is about three women who are victims of unwanted sexual advances, has struck a deep chord in a country where sexual violence against women hit headlines after the horrific 2012 gang rape of a college student in the Indian capital.

Playing to packed halls, the movie underlines India’s struggle with patriarchal attitudes and the need for a male-dominated society to respect choices women make.

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, who plays the role of a defence attorney, says, “I think Pink is not film — it has become a movement.”

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The story centres on how three young men vow to teach a lesson to the three working, single women living in New Delhi after one of them hits one of the men with a liquor bottle when he fails to accept her rejection of his advances. The man has powerful political connections.

The girls are stalked, and the one who struck the man is sexually assaulted and charged with attempted murder.

The film "Pink," starring Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, sends out a powerful message about the need to respect choices women make. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
The film “Pink,” starring Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan, sends out a powerful message about the need to respect choices women make. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Women blamed

In the courtroom drama that follows, the lawyer for the young man portrays the women as having loose character because they party, drink, live away from their families and wear modern clothes.

The defense counsel focuses his case on the fact that his client rejected the man’s advances. “I said no,” she says.

He wraps up his case with a speech that has made a powerful impact.

” ‘No’ is an entire sentence in itself,” the defence lawyer says. “No means no, and when somebody says it, you stop … and the woman could be your friend, your partner, your girlfriend, or a sex worker, or even if it’s your own wife.”

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The words have won a massive endorsement among audiences and on social media in a male-dominated society where the notion of consent is virtually nonexistent. Women say they feel empowered after seeing the film, in which the charges against the woman are dropped.

‘A real-life situation’

Many said they could empathise easily with what was depicted. Pooja Prasad, 28, an art and culture consultant in New Delhi, never felt like she was watching a movie as she saw “Pink”.

“It just felt like a real-life situation that we go through every day,” she said.

The Indian capital is regarded as one of the country’s most unsafe cities for women.

Shohini Ghosh, a professor of mass communication at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, said, “The film’s most radical message is that it is not just a question of the right to say no, but the right to say no even when your sexual conduct may be trangressive of normative conventions.”

That is being seen as important in a country where it is often suggested that rape victims bring attacks upon themselves with their conduct.

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“If she goes on a rape trial, the question is of her character,” Ghosh said.

Incidents of rape in India have highlighted the problem of sexual violence in both rural and urban areas.

In the country’s sprawling metros such as New Delhi, many see this as a clash of the old and new India.

Changing male mindset

In the last two decades, the rapid pace of economic change has brought many women into India’s metros, made them financially independent and led them to push back traditional boundaries. But that often leads to conflict if it is not matched by a change in male attitudes, as the movie “Pink” shows.

Although laws to deal with violence against women have been strengthened, women activists have stressed that societal transformation will happen only when the problem is tackled at the level of male mindsets.

After watching "Pink" with a friend, Jaya Meena said she thinks the film underscores the idea that boys should be brought up to respect women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
After watching “Pink” with a friend, Jaya Meena said she thinks the film underscores the idea that boys should be brought up to respect women. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

Among those who hope that the message of “Pink” will make a difference is Jaya Meena, who recently completed her postgraduate studies. She said it underlined the need to focus on how boys are raised.

“We only teach girls to behave according to our culture,” she said, adding that boys should be made to “understand how to respect women.”

The Bollywood movie will add new energy to the debate on the treatment of women that has been underway in India for some time.

“The film is a product of its times, and it is actually representing to us the different, conflictive points of view at this moment that exist in society,” Ghosh said. (VOA)

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  • Diksha Arya

    Well I read somewhere that the original ending was different than the one in the movie.. In the original ending the girls were accused of prostitution and attempt to murder…

  • Antara

    ‘Pink’ was a much needed movie for the present day Indian audience.

Next Story

Harivansh Rai Bachchan: An Unforgettable Name

"Mitti ka tan, masti ka man, kshan-bhar jivan– mera parichay"

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Harivansh Rai Bachchan, a Padhma Bhushan awardee for his contribution in Hindi Literature. Pexels
Harivansh Rai Bachchan, a Padhma Bhushan awardee for his contribution in Hindi Literature. Pexels

Harivansh Rai Bachchan, a poet. That’s what most of us know other than the fact that he was the father of Amitabh Bachchan. However, he was more than that.

He was born in Allahabad, British India on 27 November 1907 to a Kayastha family. Being the second Indian to get his doctorate in English literature from Cambridge, he had also served in All India Radio. After which he was working in the External Affairs Minister, during these ten years, he was majorly associated with the evolution of Hindi as the official language. In 1966, he was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

Bachchan is still known as a person who enriched Hindi through his translations of major works. Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, Shakespeare’s Machbeth and Othello and even the Bhagvad Gita.

Honored with Padma Bhushan for his lasting contribution to Hindi literature, with Saraswati Samman for his four volume autobiography, the Sovietland Nehru Award and the Lotus Aware for his unique work in the world of letters, his most famous poem is one his early works ‘Madhushala’. He was famous as a rebellious poet of Nayi Kavita literary movement.

He was famous as a rebellious poet of Nayi Kavita literary movement. Pixels
He was famous as a rebellious poet of Nayi Kavita literary movement. Pixels

Poems by Harivansh Rai Bachchan

1. Madhushala

“मृदु भावों के अंगूरों की आज बना लाया हाला,
प्रियतम, अपने ही हाथों से आज पिलाऊँगा प्याला,
पहले भोग लगा लूँ तेरा फिर प्रसाद जग पाएगा,
सबसे पहले तेरा स्वागत करती मेरी मधुशाला।।१।”

2. Agnipath

“तू न थकेगा कभी,
तू न रुकेगा कभी,
तू न मुड़ेगा कभी,
कर शपथ, कर शपथ, कर शपथ,
अग्निपथ अग्निपथ अग्निपथ।”

3. Ruke Na Tu

“धनुष उठा, प्रहार कर
तू सबसे पहला वार कर
अग्नि सी धधक–धधक
हिरन सी सजग सजग
सिंह सी दहाड़ कर
शंख सी पुकार कर

रुके न तू, थके न तू
झुके न तू, थमे न तू”

He used to introduce himself by saying- Mitti ka tan, masti ka man, kshan-bhar jivan– mera parichay. Pixabay
He used to introduce himself by saying- Mitti ka tan, masti ka man, kshan-bhar jivan– mera parichay. Pixabay

4. Poorv Chalne Ke Batohi

“पुस्तकों में है नहीं छापी गई इसकी कहानी,
हाल इसका ज्ञात होता है न औरों की ज़बानी,
अनगिनत राही गए इस राह से, उनका पता क्या,
पर गए कुछ लोग इस पर छोड़ पैरों की निशानी,
यह निशानी मूक होकर भी बहुत कुछ बोलती है,
खोल इसका अर्थ, पंथी, पंथ का अनुमान कर ले।
पूर्व चलने के बटोही, बाट की पहचान कर ले।”

5. Kya Karu Samvedna Lekar Tumhari

“मैं दुखी जब-जब हुआ
संवेदना तुमने दिखाई,
मैं कृतज्ञ हुआ हमेशा,
रीति दोनो ने निभाई,
किन्तु इस आभार का अब
हो उठा है बोझ भारी;
क्या करूँ संवेदना लेकर तुम्हारी?
क्या करूँ?”

6. Koshish Karne Waalon Ki Har Nahi Hoti

“लहरों से डर कर नौका पार नहीं होती
हिम्मत करने वालों की हार नहीं होती

नन्ही चींटी जब दाना लेकर चलती है
चढ़ती दीवारों पर सौ बार फिसलती है
मन का विश्वास रगों में साहस भरता है
चढ़ कर गिरना, गिर कर चढ़ना न अखरता है
आखिर उसकी मेहनत बेकार नहीं होती
कोशिश करने वालों की हार नहीं होती”

7. Vishwa Sara So Raha Hai

“हैं विचरते स्वप्न सुंदर,
किंतु इनका संग तजकर,
व्योम–व्यापी शून्यता का कौन साथी हो रहा है?
विश्व सारा सो रहा है!

भूमि पर सर सरित् निर्झर,
किंतु इनसे दूर जाकर,
कौन अपने घाव अंबर की नदी में धो रहा है?
विश्व सारा सो रहा है!”

His pen was a mighty one in the world of Hindi Literature. Pixabay
His pen was a mighty one in the world of Hindi Literature. Pixabay

8. Teer Par Kaise Ruku

तीर पर कैसे रुकूँ मैं, आज लहरों में निमंत्रण!
रात का अंतिम प्रहर है, झिलमिलाते हैं सितारे,
वक्ष पर युग बाहु बाँधे, मैं खड़ा सागर किनारे
वेग से बहता प्रभंजन, केश-पट मेरे उड़ाता,
शून्य में भरता उदधि-उर की रहस्यमयी पुकारें,

इन पुकारों की प्रतिध्वनि, हो रही मेरे हृदय में,

है प्रतिच्छायित जहाँ पर, सिंधु का हिल्लोल – कंपन!
तीर पर कैसे रुकूँ मैं,आज लहरों में निमंत्रण!

9. Dekho Toot Raha Hai Tara

“नभ के सीमाहीन पटल पर
एक चमकती रेखा चलकर
लुप्त शून्य में होती-बुझता एक निशा का दीप दुलारा।
देखो, टूट रहा है तारा।”

10. Mujhe Pukar Lo

“इसीलिए खड़ा रहा कि तुम मुझे पुकार लो!

ज़मीन है न बोलती न आसमान बोलता,
जहान देखकर मुझे नहीं जबान खोलता,
नहीं जगह कहीं जहाँ न अजनबी गिना गया,
कहाँ-कहाँ न फिर चुका दिमाग-दिल टटोलता,
कहाँ मनुष्य है कि जो उमीद छोड़कर जिया,
इसीलिए खड़ा रहा कि तुम मुझे पुकार लो”