Filmmakers rarely go to Ground Zero to direct films that fall into the invisible third category, i.e. films that portray “the complete truth and nothing but the truth.” Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, directed by Dibaker Banerjee, is one of those uncommon films. He gets to the depths of the patriarchal society in our nation through its amazing storyline and meticulously timed screenplay, revealing the truth that both genders must face daily.
I became interested in seeing this film after seeing the posters. When I first heard the title, I imagined a standard scenario in which a boy and a girl are trapped in a usual situation and must squirm their way out. The idea that Sandeep (played by Parineeti Chopra) can be a girl’s name and Pinky (played by Arjun Kapoor) can be a boy’s name caught me off guard and may have set me up for Banerjee’s gender critique.
A one-shot montage of a group of buyers discussing a hypothetical circumstance opens the film. The males had an option between two girls, both twins, during a party. The only difference is that one of them wears lipstick and the other does not.
A piece of haunting yet simple music played on the santoor interrupts the discussion as it progresses. Banerjee’s modest act demonstrates how exploiting young girls without their consent has unfortunately become a common topic of discourse. The interruption could also indicate that, while we want to see a change in our society, we lack the courage to face reality and take action.
Another feature that distinguishes this film is Banerjee’s use of an intersectional method to depict the protagonists’ concerns. Intersectionality is a word coined by Kimberle Crenshaw to describe how a person’s social and political identities interact to create diverse forms of discrimination and privilege.
As Sandeep and Pinky continue to be drawn deeper into the disaster they’ve created, the former is forced to face the brunt of the blame. Pinky’s rugged male demeanor may make it easier for him to move around without being observed. Sandeep, on the other hand, finds it practically excruciating.
It was more than simply losing go of her natural environment of fame and fortune for her. She lost her identity, all she had worked for, and, most importantly, her sense of purpose as a woman. From repeatedly being chosen to cook and serve the meals, to being eyed for sexual pleasure by a timid yet nasty manager, to losing her child, Sandeep reaches a point when she realizes she can no longer put out flames as they arise and has some unfinished business.
Furthermore, when we compare Sandeep and Neena Gupta’s character (hereinafter referred to as Aunty), we can see how women are discriminated against. Sandeep’s education and rich upbringing may prove to be a saving grace in the face of her oppression.
Aunty seems to have nothing of that sort which constantly makes her the subject of her husband’s harsh taunts (played by Raghubir Yadav). The very fact that he controls everything that happens in the house, even his wife, makes him a character everyone would love to hate.
Every time he speaks in bad English, attempting to demonstrate his educational background, he establishes his authority. Sandeep has the resources to get her out of trouble, which was even more disappointing to witness.
Aunty had no choice but to stay, as he points out when she describes an attempt to flee her marriage: “Mere peeche aake bola a toh rahi hai, magar jaaogi kahaan” (He came from behind and said, you are leaving me, but where will you go).
So, to answer the title’s queries, I suppose talking about gender and society is just sticking to the facts and addressing the elephants in the room. Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar demonstrates this. Banerjee forces us to consider the expectations we place on the gender binary and how toxic masculinity might undermine our efforts to achieve gender equality through its minimalism and eerily true tale.