MUMBAI: Shoojit Sircar's "Pink" highlighted the importance of consent, a film that not only won box office battle but also a National award, and writer Ritesh Shah says producers were not ready to back it as they did not find any merit in the story.
Released on September 16, 2016, "Pink", featured megastar Amitabh Bachchan as a lawyer defending three girls, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang, who were molested.
"It isn't easy to attract people to theatre to see a film about consent. For three years it didn't get made. No production house no corporate stepped forward.
"I was so sure at one of the corporate houses that the film will be approved because there were about 20 odd people, most of them young and many girls. I thought here it'll work. But they were like 'what is the big deal?'," Shah told PTI.
"Pink" was produced by Ronnie Lahiri, Sheel Kuma and Shoojit acting as a creative producer.
Things, however, changed once the film was out and received a lot of love.
"Later some of the studios were apologising. I said no point apologising now, if you couldn't see it you couldn't see it. Somebody like a Shoojit Sircar could see the film on paper, others couldn't."
Shah says the film's journey began as a commentary on moral policing before turning into a relevant piece on the importance of consent.
"Pink" was earlier titled "Eve" but the makers were not sure if it will work with the audience.
During a discussion on WhatsApp, Shah proposed "Pink" and Shoojit instantly liked it.
From there, the film had nearly 16 and a half drafts till it was finally locked.
The team, though, was very confused about the climax.
While in the film it is shown that the girls win the case, Shah said they were initially in two minds.
"There was a lot of time we felt it would be filmy if the girls win. We also thought if they lose, why are we making this film? My spouse said it's like you are taking us on a fight and then throwing an ice cold water on us. We were conflicted about it till the end."
It was Shoojit who had asked Shah to put himself in the position of the judge, played by Dhritiman Chatterjee, and think what a man with decades of experience in a court room would think of the case.
"Shoojit said lock yourself in a room, think about it and then write a judgement. I did exactly that and the end came. We don't show the quantum of the judgement as the judgement just establishes the guilt," Shah adds.
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Upon its release, one of the dialogues from the film became a pop culture reference regarding consent: 'No means no.' The writer says while "no means no" was always a thought, they did not have that particular line till a long time.
Initially, Bachchan had suggested that since his character already says so much and makes a point, for the final argument, he would simply say 'no', a logic which worked for Shah.
The team went to Delhi to shoot and the writer was supposed to join them when something "divine" happened.
"Somebody sent me a picture on Facebook of a coffee mug which had 'no is a complete sentence' written on it. I thought I want to write something around this for the final argument because it is important. So I saved the picture and showed it to Bachchan sir."
When the team returned to Mumbai to shoot the court sequences, Shah was ready with six to eighth lines, including the clincher, "no means no."
"The only line they dropped was 'don't use your hands to turn that no into a yes. ' Rest they retained.
It was a really last minute addition. I lost the phone in which I had that picture and no one seems to remember who sent me the divine coffee mug!".