Directed by Dibakar Banerji and co-written by Varun Grover, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar has released in cinemas…
The opening credits of Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar is enough to tell you that this is going to be a good film. Initially, the credits sequence may seem like a wrong decision, but soon after you understand the depth of this very scene. Alongside the credits, we have a couple of men driving around in a Toyota Fortuner. They’re talking about women. No points for guessing that it’s all voyeuristic talk. Seconds into the conversation and we know who these men are – upper class, privileged men who view women as just objects. Through this scene, director Dibakar Banerji and co-writer Varun Grover set up an introduction of literally every male character in the film, of course except Arjun Kapoor’s Pinky.
In Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar everything and everyone is layered. You may think the film is about something, but it turns out to be about something else entirely. After you’ve moved past the clever naming of the lead characters (Parineeti Chopra as Sandeep Kaur and Arjun Kapoor as Pinky Dahiya), you see that this film is not about a chase. It’s not just about how Sandeep and Pinky might get to Nepal after committing god-knows-what. It’s about deeper issues, it’s about what it took for Sandeep and Pinky to be where they are, about Pinky’s lack of privilege, his disgust for Sandeep’s and for her take-my-privilege-for-granted attitude, about Sandeep never realising that she is privileged. It’s also about power play – between men and women and between different classes of the society. What seems like a chase film is, in fact, not just a chase film. Banerji and Grover know what social issues they want to talk about, and while they use the ‘chase film’ prototype, it’s not what takes the centre stage.
Banerji, known for his social issue films, creates another gem. The writing of Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar is near perfect. The idea and meaning of masculinity in India, what it means to be a woman in India – these are the issues at the forefront of Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar. It’s interesting how Banerji and Grover seamlessly use ‘pink’ in their narrative, whether it’s in the opening sequence, Pinky himself or the wonderful climax. When Sandeep and Pinky take refugee in Pithoragarh, you see how small town mentality is still stuck in the past, where women have no say and men do all the talking, even in those aspects of the household that women (in the film) dominate.
According to plan, Sandeep and Pinky flee Delhi and arrive in Pithoragarh, where they stay as paying guests with an elderly couple, played by Neena Gupta and Raghubir Yadav, and honestly, the film takes a wonderful turn from here on. The first half is also just as good, but the four actors create even more magic together than Parineeti Chopra and Arjun Kapoor in the first half. Both Gupta and Yadav are terrific actors, as are their characters. He thinks talking in English makes him superior and so he bosses around, she believes him because there’s not much she knows. His wife has to do what he thinks is correct, as have Sandeep and Pinky. Sometimes, Sandeep is excused because she knows better English. In a wonderful sequence, we see Gupta’s Aunty Ji telling her friends about this one time she and Uncle (Yadav) had a fight and she packed her suitcase, wore her shoes and began to leave. “Aur phir inhone kaha ‘jaogi kaha?’ Aur maine socha, ‘haye yeh toh maine socha hi nahi’,” is what she says next. For Aunty, Uncle is her entire life and it’s not just her, it’s many small town women. Chopra’s Sandeep is the contrary, but she realises soon that the system, the society see her as nothing but a woman. She may be a hot shot at the bank she works at, but is still a woman. Will she be able to manage a home and career is a question she will be asked if and when she gets married.
Driving this film are Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra. Both Kapoor and Chopra have had good and bad films and performances in the past. But they seem so evolved in Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar. It’s as if I was watching them in the 2012 Ishaqzaade, where both of them showed tremendous potential. Kapoor’s last outing, Panipat, was proof of the fact that there he is a good actor. As Pinky, you see him doing better. Pinky is not the usual Delhi/Haryana boy. He’s sensitive, he knows right from wrong and will always stand up for it. Kapoor taps into this innocence of Pinky and brings out his best.
And while this is as much his film as it’s Parineeti Chopra’s, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar is her show! I’m not comparing Kapoor’s and Chopra’s acting skills, not at all. But after the recently released The Girl On The Train, I didn’t think Chopra could perform as she has. This is her career best performance, in a very complex character. Sandeep is stern, unaware of her privilege. She wears a Rs 40,000 dress and unapologetically announces that her bag is worth Rs 2 Lacs. From the looks of it looks like Parineeti Chopra has gotten back into the main scene. She proves herself as an actor and her performance shows that there’s a lot of untapped, unexplored potential in her. This is her career best performance.
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar is a slow film. It takes it’s time. Had the editing been a little tighter, it would’ve been a perfect film. But without that, and with great performances, Banerji’s skilful direction, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar is near perfect! I would highly recommend you go to a theatre (in all safety) near you and watch this cinematic gem.
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