After a really shaky prologue—the film begins with a bunch of louts in a moving car crackling over sexist jokes about women wearing lipstick, obviously shot in a studio with clumsy back projection—Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar gathers its wits midway, to deliver a last 45 minutes which are most effective, though not brilliant.
This is the problem with Dibakar Bannerjee’s long-delayed homespun Bonnie & Clyde. It means well, but it falls short of expectations, perhaps its own expectations more than ours. The writing by Bannerjee and the redoubtable Varun Grover is sinewy muscular and adventurous. Pitching two warring co-travellers in a journey away from trouble is nothing new. The treatment of the weatherworn subject is sometimes surprising, at other times plain exasperating.
After getting over the juvenile irony of the hero with a feminine name Pinky and the heroine with a masculine name Sandeep/Sandy, the narrative rapidly stops getting impressed by its own uniqueness and stops laughing at its own jokes to deliver a rousing finale where Arjun Kapoor, in what must be considered a bold attempt to play against gender stereotyping, gets into an elaborate Kathakali-styled costume and makeup to facilitate his fugitive partner’s getaway.
Of course, Pinky and Sandeep are warring constantly. How could they not be, when she is a pregnant corporate banker on the run after her boss/lover turns against her. In a classic twist of the murderous knife, Pinky who is supposed to assassinate Sandy becomes her saviour. The film is shot at a scenic little town called Pitthoragarh on the Indo-Nepal border where Sandy and Pinky take refuge in a kindly couple Raghuvir Yadav and Neena Gupta’s place. Neither of the actors seems inclined to flesh out their sketchy roles. This is the most treacly aspect of the otherwise surprisingly clenched unsentimental drama.
After that over-the-top al-kohl-ic performance in The Girl On The Train, Parineeti Chopra delivers a finely tuned portrait of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Pregnant, pennyless, desperate and defeated, she is unlike any female hero we’ve seen in recent times. The same goes for Arjun who portrays the unselfconscious metro-sexual man with a quiet conviction. He is especially effective in the closing scenes where his feelings for Pinky bubble to the surface. Also, watch out for Sukant Goel as an ostensible docile bank manager. He is a revelation.
Admirably Kapoor and Chopra are never shown to be cuddling closer to one another. In one sequence, Kapoor is shown cleaning Chopra’s blood after a violent miscarriage. It’s a brilliant moment of gender introspection done with a quiet sense of regret and loss. Sadly, such moments show up in the erratic film and then vanish into bylanes as zigzagged as the town where the implosive saga unfolds. Sandeep & Pinky Faraar is nonetheless worth a watch. It should have been released on the digital platform where it has the potential of being a cult hit.
Image source: IMDb
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