I knew a Pinky once. She too had been defiant and was the face of a revolution.
She had her detractors, still does.
Many explained the phenomenon of a young woman spearheading a movement that defied the state ,as well, it is not her, people are drawn to her because of her father. That she could head a political party (and later be the premier of) in a country that remains patriarchal , as she came from a class where men could "co-operate" when they were serving their class interests. She too faced a lot of flak for not exactly doing that much for women, post her two terms being Pakistan's Prime Minister, Pinky aka Benazir Bhutto's country women seemed as wretched, as subjugated by the religio-sociopolitical nexus as ever. Or were they?
Tonight Nishita Jain's Gulabi Gang reminded me of those questions. Through the prism of the body of a burnt young woman who for all purposes may have spontaneously combusted because of an Act of God, fate/karma/ her own will, for it is never the husband, never the in-laws--we are taken on a journey through a landscape that could be anywhere, so blighted is the fate of young women today.
Sampat Pal, who for all purposes is the face of Gulabi Gang (though through the course of the documentary you get the niggling suspicion it may not always be the same),in the first ten minutes of the documentary unpacks what the "gender question" is for generations of her compatriots with all its class and caste commonalities. The rest of the documentary follows Pal as she stubbornly perseveres with getting the police to sit up and take notice of the dead young woman--while the entire community closes rank. We will witness how a sisterhood of pink saris (or salwar kamiz) is no feminist utopia, there will be times when members will find it difficult to defy caste and vote for the usurper; times when they will support the very patriarchal notions of honour that bind them.
But will it always be so?
I dont think so. For I also caught the defiance in a young woman's eyes in a village that had just caved in, the spark in eyes that peer out in a dark railway bogey.
I would recommend you go and watch this documentary for exactly those moments.