‘Women are admonished, their behaviour questioned’
By Gautam Chintamani | Express News Service | Published: 25th November 2017 10:00 PM |
Pink, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang, won critical acclaim for its approach to a crucial issue. It was only natural that such a film deserved an equally well-written counterpart. And Gautam Chintamani did a splendid job. The author spoke to Medha Dutta about his successful book, how it stands in today’s context, sexual harrassment, and many more issues.
What made you take up such a project?
It’s perhaps unheard of for a contemporary Hindi film to capture the mood of society in a way that its dialogues and instances are oft-quoted by people within weeks of its release. Pink did both and much more, and that warranted a deeper look. Also, the way the screenplay resonated with real-life people, I felt it needed to be studied in its original form.
You give a detailed account of the courtroom scenes, but don’t overwhelm readers with technicality. How did you manage to achieve that?
While watching a film if you are able to forget about everything else, say the costume someone is wearing or the location, etc. and get one with the drama on screen then the joy is something else. I tried to recreate a bit of that feeling. And considering that today almost everyone knows the process of filmmaking and the various techniques I didn’t want to overwhelm the reader. The aim was to highlight the reasons that led the creators of Pink to employ certain filmmaking techniques and the effect it had on the narrative.
Your views on the socio-cultural impact of the film.
The film’s narrative spoke about certain rights such as the Zero FIR that many weren’t even aware of. The Rajasthan Police, for example, used Pink as a tool to teach their personnel to be sensitive towards women. All these are testimonies to Pink’s wide-ranging socio-cultural impact.
Do you have any personal memories of the impact the film made?
My wife told me that she could never connect with a standard Hindi film woman character until Pink. For me, the realism that the film managed to capture left a deep impression.
Do you think any actor other than Amitabh Bachchan would have managed to deliver such a strong message?
The film and its message were meant for men and boys. In that aspect, one can hardly think of anyone better than Mr Bachchan. With someone like Mr Bachchan, the impact, as well as the reach, increases manifold.
Of late, American producer Harvey Weinstein is in the news for sexual misconduct, which ultimately boils down to what Pink showed—no means no. Your views. It’s just not about a movie mogul; it’s about every single man who believes that he has some divine right to do what he pleases. The manner in which Pink encapsulates the concept of consent in three simple words—no means no—ought to be understood by men.
Have you had a chance to read Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s autobiography that was recently pulled back from the stalls? Do you agree with the way the book talks about the women in his life?
While it’s not my place to comment on Mr Siddiqui’s personal views, having read An Ordinary Life, I feel that while writing about someone else whose image could suffer, and especially when it involves women, permission from them should have been taken.
Do you think the voyeuristic attitude of the society towards its women will ever change?
The impact of something like the #MeToo campaign gave many women, and even men, the strength to share their experiences of sexual assault. The message that has gone across is that such behaviour would not be tolerated.
Will women be able to live down the line—she deserved it?
Women are admonished, their behaviour questioned, their reputation labelled but men get a pass with something as stupid as ‘men will be men’. As a fan of Roman Polanski’s cinema, I overlook the fact that he had sex with an underage, is charged with rape and continues to be on the run for nearly four decades now. Does that mean we allow such men to carry on as if nothing happened because of who they are? For me, as I get accustomed to such behaviour, the talent of men and their art will be secondary.