Updated: March 20, 2021 8:10:52 am
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar movie cast: Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Jaideep Ahlawat, Neena Gupta, Raghubir Yadav
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar movie director: Dibakar Banerjee
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar movie rating: 3 stars
The moment the film opens, you snap to attention. There’s a car being driven at reckless speed. There are a few uncouth youth in it. Their words and diction can only belong to a certain class of repressed, entitled Dilli Jat boys who come out in the night, looking for some action. Your nerves thrum. Anything can happen on these roads, with these characters. Something does, and wham, the film has us by the jugular.
The opening set is a cracker. It gives us two characters from opposite sides of the tracks, the very svelte Sandy aka Sandeep Kaur (Parineeti Chopra) and the very brawny Pinky urf Pinkesh Dahiya (Arjun Kapoor), on the run. They’ve just been witness to a bloody ambush. Who were meant to be the real victims? The ones who got it in the neck, or our two worthies, the MBA banker who earns enough to flaunt a handbag worth two lakhs, or the suspended Haryanvi cop looking for a way back to his job?
Banerji, whose nuanced eye when it comes to depicting power play and class differences in the NCR, and both the covert and overt violence that runs up and down the ladder, is unparalleled, should have given us a tighter film. This is a director who doesn’t hang about. But the films’s hold upon us starts slipping when it starts casting about for good reasons for its leads to be the way they are, coming back into focus sporadically.
Once we’ve smiled past the gender flip of its names (in some parts of North India, male and female names get interchanged), we see Sandeep and Pinky flailing about in Pithoragarh, a town close to Nepal, a conduit for illegal border crossings. A middle-aged couple (Neena Gupta and Raghubir Yadav) become a temporary refuge for our couple on the run, and their presence, morally and physically grounding, lends the film a distinct flavour. As does the location.
So good are both Gupta and Yadav, giving their characters a crabby, long-married flavour that you want to see more of them. Some characters appear fleetingly and disappear; some don’t get their due. Ahlawat, as a bent cop, gets a line which is so obviously a line that even he can’t hide it: “breakfast tak ho jayega sir”, he says, “lunch pakad lijiye zyada se zyada”. Or words to that effect. It’s too deliberate ‘a line’ to be natural. There’s also an attempt to place the runaways in a larger context, of financial inequity and impropriety, and of the problems of wearing clothes that could feed a family of four for months.
The stars’ need to shine becomes a bit of a problem: Kapoor, who is indistinct to the point of unintelligible when the film begins (even when I strained to hear, I couldn’t make out a lot of what he was saying), gets a break-out sequence or two but manages to keep himself tamped down. It works for his buttoned-up, surly Pinky who lectures Sandeep about her privilege. It is Ms Chopra’s occasional calling attention to her ‘acting’, with the script generously allowing her time to do so, that jars. But still, I was happy watching Sandeep and Pinky’s shenanigans, co-written by Banerji and Varun Grover.
This is a film that comes from a trenchant world-view which looks at issues beyond the obvious and the trite. A world that can be savage yet shot through with unexpected warmth and understanding, where scowls and smiles are part of the whole.
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