Dibakar Banerjee’s Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar is a masterful subversion right from the title. Sandeep is Sandeep Kaur/Sandy Walia (Parineeti Chopra) a hotshot banker. Arjun Kapoor plays Pinky allias Satindra Dahiya, a Harayanvi cop under suspension. How Sandeep and Pinky get into circumstances that force them to be on the run forms the crux of the story. Yet, this is not your generic chase thriller with fast paced chases and suspense evoking background score.
The pace of the film is relaxed, not something one normally associates with a chase film and that gentle pacing is where the film scores. What would be covered over a 3-minute montage or offscreen incident in a film of a similar genre has been laid out in intrinsic detail to make an entire film. Running from the system involves the fake passports, changing identities and laying low in the interim. The depiction of this ‘laying low’ ends up being the high point of this film.
Dibakar’s view and DOP Anil Mehta’s lens prolong their stay at places that would otherwise been blink and you miss passing shots. In the process, not only do they cover layers of storytelling but also the landscape and lives of people in the small border town of Pithoragarh. This makes way for some interesting characters to enter the screen. For example, the older couple played by Neena Gupta and Raghuvir Yadav. The equation in their married life that is representative of a lot of middle-class couples, Raghuvir Yadav breaking into ‘sarkari’ English when trying to impress or to portray anger that will remind one of uncles back home. The young fan of a superstar (Rahul Kumar, who played millimetre in 3 idiots) who ends up becoming the fan of Pinky or a businessman who moonlights as server of Nepali Thali (watch the movie to figure out the meaning).
Sandeep and Pinky are on the run, but it takes time for the audience to emphasise with them. Neither of them is ‘innocent’ in the broad sense, both are flawed characters. Their transformation to white is more a forced result of circumstances rather than internal epiphanies. While they are in hiding the good deeds, they end up doing are either incidental (saving someone from committing suicide) or because they come in personal contact with a victim of their past scam (a statistic in appt suddenly gets a flesh and blood personification). Yet like in real life, their good deeds do not go unpunished. This is where the movie takes a poignant deviation from noir and black comedy and enters the drama space. The cinematography and background score as Sandeep goes through a trauma, leaves a haunting visual imagery. Jaideep Ahlawat as the cop chasing the leads has less screen time but that is by the film’s design which focuses more on what the lead pair are up to rather than the cat and mouse game between them and the cop.
Dibakar Banerjee’s craft as the filmmaker is in full display as he manages to get great performances out of actors not known for their acting prowess. Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra shell out memorable performances comparable only to their acting in Ishaqzaade (and that was a long time back). Overall watch this movie for a refreshingly different take on a genre that goes back to the Innocent man on run movies of Hitchcock.