In Dibakar Banerjee‘s Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Parineeti Chopra plays Sandy Walia, an unscrupulous banker on the run from her past mistakes. She talks about how the film’s depiction of the patriarchy mirrors instances of sexism from her own life.
Rohini Ramnathan: When I was watching the film, I got really angry because it included the kinds of (sexist) situations I’ve also had to face. How angry did the film make you and which scene gave you the opportunity to vent that anger?
Parineeti Chopra: This film is uniquely written. People have become so immune to the patriarchy that they don’t even think about it. Women in India face this every day. When I’m getting my house renovated, the contractors don’t talk to me properly because I’m a woman. They ask if there’s someone else at home they can talk to. I say, ‘No, I bought this house, I’ve made the payments. It’s mine so I will choose the tiles.’ When I tell them to talk to me, they refuse. This film has a lot of similarities to my personal life.
My favourite scene is the ‘paratha achaar’ one in which all the men are seated while the women are standing. Neena Gupta’s character is also standing. She’s so used to the patriarchy that she’ll never ask Arjun’s character to pass the pickle, but she’ll ask me why I’m seated. While shooting this scene, I was reminded of the small town I grew up in, where the women weren’t allowed to eat till the men went to sleep. They couldn’t eat while the men were still seated at the dining table. Even at my house, my mother wasn’t allowed to sit and eat. It’s not that my father made her do this, but it was an unspoken rule in the house. The most important thing about this film was the marriage between my character, Sandy, and me – this mixture of real and reel life. This was me saying, ‘Let’s smash the patriarchy.’ We were trying to show how accepted the patriarchy is in India and how much we wish that would change.