What I Thought of Andrea Tariang in ‘Pink’ as a Fellow Meghalayan
As a Khasi woman and a fellow Meghalayan, here’s why I thought Andrea Tariang’s role in ‘Pink’ was spot on.
When you first look at the character of Andrea Tariang in the movie Pink, it might appear that she has a minor role to play and isn’t well-developed. To my mind, however, this character does the exact opposite.
Being a girl from the ‘North East’ myself, I relate closely with this rather silent character who suddenly has an outburst about how girls from the North East are harassed more than any average girl. Her short dialogues and her very role in the movie portray a girl who is unsure of herself in a land alien to her – where people speak an alien language. She bursts forth, therefore, in anger – intermittently – when she and her friends are accused of prostitution.
The movie does not swerve far from reality but rather draws deeply from it – North Eastern women are often labelled ‘loose’, ‘disrespectful’ and prostitutes.
The movie also, in its tight scripting, delves into the nuances of branding at a macro level and a micro one. The macro being – women at large in India and the micro being – the many women of different cultures, languages, ethnicity and so on. This touched me deeply.
How Andrea’s Silences Spoke to Me
It also spoke at length of the ‘independent’ working woman which is the crux of the story. In the trial room, the case was not of proving one’s innocence or guilt but to establish the hard fact that women are as men, rightful of living without being judged for wearing certain types of clothes, eating certain kinds of food, drinking certain kinds of drinks, and holding their heads up confidently, making their own decisions.
This is important in drawing out the character of Andrea Tariang – her silences and her outbursts, and most importantly her alienation in the movie. Alienation and a different kind of oppression rule this character – to the point of her being relegated by most as one only playing a ‘minor role’. She is looked at as the ‘Sikkimese-Arunachali-Manipuri’ woman – as is expressed by one of the male leads and antagonist in the movie.
The lawyer, Deepak Sehgal, makes it a point to highlight in court the importance of naming Andrea’s place of birth: Meghalaya – the aboard of clouds. What this does is that it breaks the problematic labelling of the eight states as the ‘North East’. This way, Mr Sehgal is able to demystify and break the stereotype of the ‘North East’ – albeit in a very instantaneous comment that most would miss.
My Understanding of Pink, as a Khasi Woman
Needless to say, my personal experiences define my understanding of this movie.
As a woman first and a Khasi second, I understand the movie at a deeper level through the character of Andrea. Often I have been asked whether I am Indian and often I have answered that I am, often citing the state I have come from and where it is located.
As an educator, I find it imperative that curious minds be fed and ignorance be done away with. There is a reason for the paucity of understanding about us ‘North Eastern’ people – and that is because our educational system fails to integrate us into the temporal geographical landscape of our children and students.
When I was a college student I was often called racist names and stared at dangerously; I was once lectured about what my culture is – to the point of telling me that the religion half my family and my community follows is non-existent!
That aside, yes, as a Khasi woman I am often not understood – as it is with many others like me. We look different, we act different, we speak different and we dress different. The movie brilliantly puts this point forward: women – as much as men – deserve to be treated as subjects and not objects. We are to be respected, as any other person, for our history, our culture, our accomplishments and most importantly, our basic humanity.
(Longnam is a teacher at Shiv Nadar School and has recently completed her M Phil in English from Delhi University. She is originally from Shillong, Meghalaya and is currently residing in Delhi NCR.)
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