Who said that the subaltern cannot speak? The subaltern talks for hours and occasionally bends gender roles. Helmed by prolific Indian filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee, ‘Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar’ is a slow-burning suspense thriller and a road movie that gradually immerses the audience. The film is an acute depiction of India with all its patriarchal vanities, but playfully, the director bends the gender stereotypes. The subversion is apparent from the name of the film itself, and although Satyendra Dahiya, aka Pinky (Arjun Kapoor), is undeniably a compelling character, Sandeep Kaur, aka Sandy Walia (Parineeti Chopra), is the driving force of the story. The story grips the audience right from the beginning, with the accidental death of a group of friends at a police roadblock.
The narrative, in turn, follows the escapade of Sandy, who was the real target of the killing. The essence of the film is Indian to the core, complete with crowded places, crass music, vibrant colors, scamming banks with ties to the government, pro-dictatorship uncles, and twisted Indian men who don’t understand the concept of consent. You would think this is a generic Bollywood movie, but the ending deviates from the path that most directors would take. The epilogue conceals a time jump, and if you have had a problem following the final minutes, fret not because you know that’s why we are here. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar Plot Synopsis
A car overtakes another, and the driver behind curses with all his might. The car stops at a police roadblock. The police free-fire, and the passengers are all dead. The killing, however, is accidental, as the target of the police was the car with the cursing driver. To give context, the film travels a bit back in time. Sandy is waiting for her banker boyfriend Parichay at a restaurant, who does not turn up, but Sandy meets a reporter. The reporter convinces Sandy to go to a party, but in the meantime, Pinky, the driver, appears with an apologetic note from his boss.
On their way back, Pinky and Sandy witness the shooting and reverse the car. Sandy is unwilling to believe that people are after her life, who, we also get to know, is pregnant. Following the instructions of Tyagi, his boss, Pinky tries to strangle Sandy in the middle of a desolate field but is unable to do it. Pinky thinks that he is the scapegoat in this affair, and he plans to go to Kolkata. Despite being aware of the consequences, Sandy does not want to abort the pregnancy.
But Sandy convinces him to take her to Nepal by promising to give him some dough. Following the suggestions of Pinky’s boss, the duo decides to make a stop at Pithoragarh since one Sonu Bhandari escaped through the same route. At Pithoragarh, they book a room at Pathik International, but as Sandy makes her acquaintance with a talkative Indian auntie, the couple moves to the auntie’s homely abode. The husband of the aunt has deposited his life’s savings in the same Parivartan Bank that Sandy Walia was once the director of, but the Swabhimaan Scheme under which the uncle’s money is saved is a magnanimous and elaborate scam.
Sandy was once the orchestrator of the scam, but now repentant for the losses of millions, she decides to help the uncle retrieve his money and goes to the bank. She strikes a deal with the manager, offering him 2 million while keeping another for Pinky. On the other hand, Pinky visits Pathik International to make a fake passport for himself while deciding to abandon Sandy.
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar Ending: Does the Police Catch Sandy?
After the second half of rising tension, the climax of the story ends inconclusively in a masterstroke of storytelling. The final scene shows a cross-dressed Pinky dancing along with the marriage procession with his avid disciple Munna. They cross a bridge, and Tyagi, with his police force, waits on the other side of the bridge. On the other hand, we see Sandy fleeing from the scene through a bazaar, and she catches the eyes of an employee from the bank. The eyes of the employee glow from this sudden recognition, and the camera cuts to an epilogue. In the epilogue scene, we see Sandy in what seems to be a jail.
The Business Times reporter Purva Reddy comes to meet her. In their casual conversation, she sarcastically comments that the head of operations of Parivartan Bank and the instigator of Sandy’s murder, Parichay Aggarwal, is conducting conferences from Tihar Jail. Parichay apparently has six cases lauded against him for the embezzlement of government money. We get the idea that Sandy confessed about the scam in the media and turned herself to the police. However, she has not sued Parichay for the attempted murder. As Parichay is the central perpetrator of the ruckus, we get the impression that Sandy will get released from the jail before him.
Is Pinky Dead or Alive?
In the climactic scene on the bridge, Pinky dances to embrace his death, while Sandy runs away, upon his insistence. As Tyagi looks at the procession with intent eyes, we feel that the fate of Pinky is sealed in blood. But films often deceive the audience into imbuing the coda with an element of surprise. In the epilogue, Purva hands an envelope to Sandy. The epilogue is sent by one P. Thama from Nepal. As Sandy opens the envelope, her eyes light up. We see a bunch of photos of children dancing. It seems that Pinky has escaped the police to Nepal and opened a dance academy there.
Another question that remains is how Pinky manages the daring escapade. It may as well be that Tyagi does not recognize Pinky as the procession passes through them. Or it may just as well be that Tyagi identifies him in the crowd but decides not to kill him. The second explanation would be more plausible since the police open firing on a marriage procession would not look too good as a newspaper headline. It may also be that the cross-dressing of Pinky takes the cis-male figure of Tyagi by surprise. In any case, Pinky is alive and very much kicking.
How Does the Film Bend Normative Gender Roles?
The majority of the film creates unease through documenting the patriarchy that runs amok in India. As the story develops, the film probes into the all-pervasive machinations of patriarchy, in close alliance with that of the state and the corporation. The woman figure of Sandy is made to feel helpless at times, but in the end, she picks herself up and wins the hearts of the audience through her intelligence, cunning, and honesty.
The early moments deceive the audience by making us think that the protagonists fit normative gender stereotypes, and sometimes, they quite obviously do. The woman can’t get a room for herself on her own as she apparently needs a husband. The intelligent woman who has a mandate on her head must also be shamed because she had an affair with her boss, got pregnant, and then blackmailed him – at least, that is what Pinky thinks at first. In the bank, the crooked and pervert manager attempts to rape Sandy, but she manages to keep her ground.
When she hits the manager with all her might, the message is clear – “Take that, patriarchy.” In the end, Pinky dresses as a woman keeping with the local tradition, and boy, does Arjun Kapoor looks absolutely gorgeous with the make-up! The final freeze shot is also important since we can see only four women in the scene. To conclude, the film becomes an honest gender-bender from a male director while staying true to the peculiarities of the subcontinent.
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