On the breakfast table, a guest asks Sandeep about the fluctuations of the stock market to which her landlord rather snidely remarks that a lady who handles the customer service calls cannot answer such complicated questions. On the same table, not some minutes ago, she was goaded by her landlord to offer pickle to her husband and the guest. Some time later, when the same landlord is about to taste the Rotis made by her, rest of the folks at the table wait with bated breath. After having a bite, he replies with the air of a typical chauvinist, “Size is bigger, taste is okay!” Welcome to the crazy world of Dibakar Banerjee where two on-the-run convicts have to abide by the patriarchy on the dining table. It’s a world laden with ironies where average, unassuming people turn out to be the deceits. It’s a world of moral dilemma when a Police officer uncharacteristically remarks after a false encounter – “Banao inhe ab Pakistani!” – to falsely label the dead as terrorists. It’s a stunning drama about people, their inner traits and their individual choices to take the moral high road. 

Sandeep aka Sandy Walia is a successful investment banker who is being driven by Satinder aka Pinky Dahiya, a suspended cop, in the dead of night, on a lonely stretch of the road. A simple drop off becomes an interesting detour as they both witness, cops killing the occupants of another vehicle, mistaking it as the vehicle driven by Pinky. Soon it becomes clear that Sandy who is also pregnant, is part of a shady financial deal which could implicate the higher authorities, thus she needs to be bumped off. Pinky is an inconsequential man who’s a mere pawn in the larger game. After the initial mistrust and minor skirmishes, they both decide to escape to Nepal via a border town called Pithoragarh while hiding in plain sight with an elderly couple. With the police closing on their heels, it comes down to two strangers making choices that could decide their individual fates. 

Dibakar Banerjee is no stranger to human drama. His choice of the topic of two strangers running off from police and eventually choosing to trust each other is also a known trope. Where he immensely succeeds is the accurate portrayal of people in the story. There are no demigods. There are no change of hearts. It’s the people reacting to the situation, as it goes further south. He doesn’t try to paint the usual fare of a very hunky dory picture of the people who are kinder to the runaway couple. In fact, things do go wrong for Sandeep and Pinky, to the extent of the very worst that could possibly happen to them. And it’s the people and their perception about them that causes the mishaps in their lives. Dibakar and his co-writer Varun Grover also showcase certain motifs in their storytelling. The central characters feature people from two very different strata of the society. Being so disconnected from each other’s world, he makes them judge each other. The writers make them being critical of the lives the other counterpart had led up to the point they meet. And towards the end, they make both characters stand at equal footing, exemplifying the fact that beneath the class differences, it’s all threadbare, it’s all human.

The peripheral characters are as interesting as the protagonists. One of them is the son of a local hotelier who’s an unabashed ‘Bhai’ fan who’s ready to disown Gutkha to develop abs like his cine-idol. The landlord uncle, who makes it a point to speak in English in front of his upperclass guests yet chooses to demean the women around him. The aunty, who is so engulfed in the patriarchal life that she has lived all her life, humours her friend about the one time she had stepped out of her house to run away, only to come back, as she had no other place to go other than her husband’s home. There is the female HR-cum-investigator who is again another victim of the patriarchy prevalent in the society. These are real people, the average joes who live around us and often become a part of our lives.

The film which was delayed for couple of years due to various issues, could become a game changer for the lead actors. Both Parineeti and Arjun earnestly enact their respective parts of Sandeep and Pinky. The grapevines have it that apparently, the director Dibakar Banerjee had forced the actors not to communicate with each other during the entire duration of the shoot. There is a visible discomfort between the characters. It’s quite obvious that the characters do not trust each other. In fact, there are certain difficult scenes between the two, which brings out the passiveness between these characters which eventually goes to a level, where they both end up completely trusting each other, as the whole world becomes suspicious of them. Credit must go to Dibakar Banerjee to have forced these actors come out of their respective comfort zones. Raghuvir Yadav and Neena Gupta play the elderly warring couple. Being the terrific actors they are, both bring required credibility into their performances. Jaideep Ahlawat plays the corrupt cop Tyagi who’s after the runaway couple. At 126 minutes run time, the film is brilliantly edited by Bakul Baljeet Matiyani and Paramita Bose.

‘Sandeep And Pinky Faraar’ is a terrific film, driven by some equally terrific performances. As soon as the film lands up in an OTT platform, it should get its much deserved laurel that is so difficult to get in the theatres due to the ongoing pandemic situation. 

The Cinemawala Rating: 3/5

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