Last Wednesday No More Secrets (NMS) had our 73rd Movie Night. It’s a wonderful evening where all generations of NMS men come together to break bread, visit and see old friends before watching a movie of my choice that I never let anyone know what it is beforehand. At this Movie Night we had two newcomers, a man who just returned from a week at The Meadows, an addiction treatment center, in Arizona and a man who was in my very first group back in 2002. The age range was from barley 21 to over 60! With some trepidation I showed a powerful foreign film that only one of the 30 men had ever heard of and that man was a native from that country.
Pink is a 2016 Indian courtroom drama social thriller film directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, written by Ritesh Shah, and produced by Rashmi Sharma Telefilms (Pawan Kumar and Rashmi Sharma), Sheel Kumar and Shoojit Sircar. It stars Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Angad Bedi, Piyush Mishra, and Dhritiman Chatterjee. It was released on September 16, 2016.
The film was specially screened for the Rajasthan Police so as to train them to be sensitive and sensible about women’s rights and dignity. The film was also specially screened at Rashtrapati Bhavan and invited for a screening at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. On November 4, 2016 the movie completed a 50-day run in theaters.
This story could have taken place in any country on the planet. Three young and affluent boys, rush to the nearest hospital because one of them is profusely bleeding from an injury to his head. They nervously refrain from filing a police complaint.
At the same time on the other side of the same town, three young women hurriedly travel in a taxi to their apartment. They look disoriented, and it is implied that they have something to do with the incident. They are shaken but try to carry on with their normal life.
The story revolves around these three young women. They are independent and self-sufficient women living together in an urban life. One of the women goes out for her usual morning run, where she is constantly observed by an old man who lives in her neighborhood. He senses there is something wrong and introduces himself to these women as a reputable lawyer who is in retirement, and they enlist his help in the matter.
Eventually, a series of threats arise. The threats result in stalking and loosing a job. They are discouraged by a police officer from filing a complaint stating it would make their daily lives more miserable unless they relocate to another town or city. In reality, the local police are aware that the young men are “well connected” and are backed-up by a powerful influential politician. A complaint is filed.
Immediately, the next day, one of the women is kidnapped during her morning run. She is threatened to stop filing complaints, blackmailed and is molested in the moving car and later dropped back home after all the commotion with a serious warning. A few days later, she is arrested by police from her apartment, based on a complaint under the charges of prostitution and attempted murder.
At this point, one of the men helps them with the bail procedures and also in representing them in the court to plead their case. In the courtroom, the lawyer, presents his clients version of events in a way that typifies male privilege, misogyny, entitlement and the proverbial double standard:
The men meet with the women at a rock concert. The men invite the women for dinner at a hotel resort, where they have drinks. The women provoke the men, have intimate relations and thereafter demand money, all signs indicating that they are prostitutes. One of the men refuses to pay and the enraged woman hits him on the head with a bottle and flees. The man’s argument focuses on the poor moral character of the women. He pushes the idea that the friendly manner of the women, the fact that they attended a rock concert and the fact that they had drinks with the men indicate that they were prostitutes. The man attacks the fact that the woman has family in Delhi but chooses to live alone.
Contrary to this, the women state that the men tried to sexually assault them, and she attacked him with the bottle in self-defense as he was trying to rape her. The main argument focuses on the issue of consent and a woman’s right to say no.
A series of interesting and chilling courtroom arguments ensues in the following days. Towards the end of the trial, the man becomes enraged and provoked by the lawyer, revealing the truth by stating that the women “got what they deserved”.
The lawyer criticizes the regressed views of the society where women are stereotyped as prostitutes if they come home late, move out of their home, want to be independent, drink and so on, but none of these applies to men. In his closing remarks, the lawyer mentions that his client said “no”. No means no and does not require further explanation. The women are acquitted while the men are charged, with the duration of their sentences pending.
The irony of this movie is that it was made and released before the latest awareness of sexual assault that is plaguing this country and the world. In simple terms this movie was ahead of the curve. Art influencing life. How prophetic for sure.
The Me Too movement (“#MeToo“), is an international movement against sexual harassment and assault. #MeToo spread virally in October 2017, over a year after the movie came out, as a hashtag used on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. It followed soon after the public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
Tarana Burke, a social activist and community organizer, began using the phrase “Me Too” in 2006, on the MySpace social network as part of a grassroots campaign to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who have experienced sexual abuse, particularly within underprivileged communities. Burke, who is creating a documentary titled Me Too, has said she was inspired to use the phrase after being unable to respond to a 13-year-old girl who confided to her that she had been sexually assaulted. Burke later wished she had simply told the girl, “me too”.
After viewing the movie we did what we always do, we process it through the lenses of 30 recovering sex and love addicts. The movie led to a wide range of interesting takes. In our introspection the landing place was and is pretty simple. Just like he said in the movie No Means NO!
If you see yourself in this movie, give me a call.