Monday, January 23, 2017

Jottings : Slice of life - 90 ( “Pink” is just another color not a gender-connotation)

Jottings : Slice of life - 90 ( “Pink” is just another color not a gender-connotation)
The sexual objectification of women, looking upon them as unequals not capable of walking shoulder to shoulder with Men has a very long biological and social history - pretty much extending to beginnings of Human species. Anthropologically, female sex was only a child bearing and domesticated member of the human group, and it has continued in various forms, shapes, ideologies and subtleties throughout the march of human civilization. It is surprising when you come to think of it that only 125 years have passed since women got the power to vote, to stand on equal terms “politically” alongside men. New Zealand was the first to adopt woman suffrage in 1893, followed by New south wales, then Finland followed by USA and Great Britain and rest. Saudi Arabia granted suffrage only few years ago ( 2011). It is still an evolving process in some remote corners of the globe. Democracy is great experiment of living together, but it also, like any great idea , unleashed new powers and forces into society. Every Man (I use the word in its neutral gender here) is free to work, participate, contribute and live as independent and equal members of community , and they are free to pursue their own life styles without reservations and hesitancy. In such a milieu, it is important that basic psychological changes in gender relationships must also occur in parallel. While it is relatively easy to change outward circumstances, create new laws, make new penalties, enforce physical compliance, thunder political speeches on equality, provide unbiased opportunities at work and elsewhere; but, for transformatory change in the inner recesses of human heart and mind, for Male members of society to accept deep down that the old order of gender disparity practiced over millennia has irrevocably changed, and their male feelings of superiority, sexual omnipotence and status of primary care takers, keepers of morals and values -is no more valid or their sole prerogative and is equally shared, participated and contributed to by Women as well . We may have achieved physical emancipation of women in the last century, but it is a blatant fact - borne out by circumstances each day in every democratic country - that we are far behind in achieving psychological emancipation and genuine platform of equality amongst us. Women are still , at every available opportunity belittled, humiliated, sexually tormented, ,molested and verbally assaulted. Instead of merely being physical and outward, the war has been become vastly internalized. No more do men openly proclaim their superiority in public, but they find ways and means to subtly communicate that message to the opposite gender in a million different ways. In language, through art, through dress, through commonplace social acts - in short in day to day life. The female sex is under an odd predicament. One hand, they do believe or want to believe they live in an emancipated, equal society; but, and on the other hand, they are subjected to vicious psychological and physical innuendoes which are more difficult to handle and process than direct assault. Physical danger is perceivable and one can plan for it, but how does one plan for psychological brutality, which can all of a sudden can turn physical, at moments notice.
Modern society reels under this tremendous pressure. Girls and boys, Men and women are constantly having to be on their guards. Under the guise of politeness and decency lies a brutish self, which is kept in abeyance, until an opportunity presents itself. Rapes, groping, molestation, verbal shaming are manifesting themselves with increasing regularity everywhere, more so in those nations who have a hoary past of feudalism and female subjugation. We want our girls to be outgoing, strong and self made; but then we pull them side to another room and caution them to be careful with whom they move and mix. We tell our girls the world is a significantly better place than it was in an earlier generation, but the girls know they have to keep themselves safe and pretend not to be afraid on the streets. We tell our girls to reach for the sun, but whisper into their ears that their destiny lies on earth. We want them to be independent, but we are still afraid to let go of our protective hold completely, lest they be consumed by the hypocritical double standards outside. This is the psychological battle of modern times. A battle still being fought, and whose end is not in sight. It is only when this tussle consummates in equality, can we truly claim of female emancipation. Otherwise its hypocrisy.
That I wrote the above two paragraphs at one go is testimony to the powerful effect a movie, its story and the magnificent performances in it - had on me and my artistic sensibilities. In the annals of Indian cinematic history, “Pink” will stand as a landmark film. Three young girls find themselves molested by three young boys whom they take to be friends. The result is an eruption of sexual and physical violence that leads to the court steps for resolution. This is the story of Pink. This is not a story of rape. It is a story of gender relationship, and what is assumed in those relationships. The stereotypes, the primeval mindset, the feeling of financial and social superiority, all of them coalesce into one fiery ball of sexual impertinence in their male friends throwing the lives of three independent middle class working women into hell, agony and humiliation. The story captures a double bind. On one hand, the girls actions point to “loose” morals, but on the other hand they have a right to behave and act as they deem fit without having to define themselves and their boundaries. After all, this is the promise of democracy. Is it not? If yes, who draws that line, where and when? It is a blurry line, if we see it though colored eyes, but the line is crystal clear if we know what we are looking at. Pink brings our that clarity with astounding veracity and force. Amitabh Bachchan, at the age of 70 plus who seems to be evolving into a better actor with each movie, in the last moments of the memorable film as Lawyer Deepak sehgal stands up and sardonically points out “ NO, YOUR HONOR”. The word is “NO”. That is the defining line for anybody, any relationship whatsoever. The ability to say “No” and the equal ability accept “No” as a valid response, especially to an act of sexual nature, is the corner stone of gender equality and enlightened democracy. It is not an argumentative negative, but an existential positive. The only way to control and curb opportunities for sexual abuse is when we learn to respond affirmatively to a “NO”. This “No” cannot be legislated, coerced, or pushed down ones throat. Its an inner call that rises, when Men and women truly understand what democracy with all its significance means. The point when “ your liberty ends and the others nose begins..” is the point to withdraw and part as friends. That is the message Pink gloriously brings out.
Almost everyone in this movie have played their part to perfection. Taapsee, Kirti, Andrea as the three girls have understood their roles well enough. Not a moment of exaggeration or forced melodrama. Of course, acting alongside the master helped. What can I write about Mr Bachchan. His very presence is enough. Choosing roles with care, studying them with assiduity and performing with commitment, integrity and passion that makes us forget we are looking at a man who has been doing this for 50 odd years with unrelenting energy. His baritone voice, fabulous diction, well crafted dialogues majestically delivered, engaging bodily movements of Bi-polar patient, piercing and sympathetic eyes - all of them bring the core tale to life touching deep chords with every passing moment. I cannot think of this film without Amitabh. After a very long time, a Hindi film left with me with parched lips and moist eyes. I like to be emotionally moved and intellectually stimulated when I experience art. “Pink” gave me that benediction. Thanks Surjit Sorcar!!
God bless….
yours in mortality,
Bala

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