Director: Anubhav Sinha
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Pavail Gulati, Dia Mirza, Maya Sarao, Naina Grewal, Geetika Vidya, Ratna Pathak Shah, Tanvi Aazmi, Kumud Mishra
‘Thappad’ starts as a sweet story of a married couple Amrita and Vikram whose seemingly perfect life falls apart when, Vikram – an otherwise good husband – slaps Amrita at a house party. What follows, surprisingly for Amrita, is everyone’s attempt at not acknowledging the event, and others justifying Vikram’s act of violence. Among many other justifications, both the mothers suggest Amrita and hope for her to let it go, and just ‘tolerate a little’ – because that’s what women are born to do – tolerate every little disrespectful comment, every “joke” made at them, by their thankless and non-appreciative male peers…
After waiting in vain for a couple of days for Vikram to realise his fault and apologise, Amrita decides to leave and take a breather at her parent’s place. Not only does the man never apologise to her, but also he pretends like it’s no big deal and continuously justifies himself throughout the film, with the rest of the family indirectly supporting him.
Just a slap!
When Amrita decides to get divorced, a question rises — Is one slap enough to reconsider a relationship that was built over love? Well, in Amrita’s words – and possibly in the words of millions of women across the globe who tolerate abuse of all forms in the name of love and family, “Uss ek thappad se na mujhe wo saari unfair cheezain saaf saaf dikhne lag gyi jisse main undekha karke move on karti jaa rahi thi.” (That one slap made me realise all the unfair treatments that I’d been busy ignoring to move on.)
Amrita’s very firm and simple explanation, “Tum ek company me itna emotionally invested the, you could not move on… Maine to apni poori life invest kari hai tumhare sath, kaise move on karu?” stuns and shuts Vikram up when he tries to convince her to move on and get back together.
Why does ‘Thappad’ seem so genuine?
Films often tend to go overboard while dramatizing emotions and despite leaving viewers in a pool of tears they don’t seem real after a few think back sessions. Anubhav Sinha’s venture, however, manages to present a near-perfect or rather very real depiction of genuine cases. When a person is insulted, he/she might not just feel sad but feel a strong wave of varied and mixed emotions. It is then that the person feels confused, which further causes them to feel immense helplessness out of shame, experience loss of words or actions, or leads them into deep contemplation on ‘how did it all come down to such an unforeseen event?’ And these emotions do not always release in the form tears, verbal abuse, or tantrums, but might also leave one dumbfounded out of sheer shock.
Amrita’s character undergoes a ton of confusing thoughts while she’s unsure of how to react. Instead of just crying into a pillow, Taapsee Pannu expresses a bunch of different feelings and excels at portraying the not very tough person, but one with a crystal clear conscience — her husband hit her, he has no right to do so. Her claim to divorce is to firmly reestablish her self respect that is at stake.
The film also very efficiently gives us sneak peeks into the lives of all the female supporting characters exposing the “compromises” they had to make to choose family over everything. The film tries to show how a tiny bit of respect and appreciation towards a woman doesn’t cost a man much; investing in a relationship should not and cannot be one-sided.
The best thing about this film is that the related characters are not there to just uplift Taapsee’s character, but all of them play an important part even with the littlest things to say. Every other dialogue is worth an applause. The very simple yet meaningful dialogues of Geetika Vidya; Dia Mirza, Kumud Mishra, Ratna Pathak Shah, and Tanvi Azmi speak a thousand words on behalf of millions around us. With a brilliant screenplay and perfect cast, director Sinha has done a commendable job. The director could not have selected a better cast for this film, every actor fir the role prefectly.
Even in 2020, it is sad to see that most people only tend to understand that graveness of women’s issues only when a man explains it to them. As long as women go about talking about their problems it’s more than often mistaken for gender bashing and pseudo feminism, which eventually starts up a comparison of who’s more suppressed. Even the people you look up to as educated and understanding might mistake women’s fight for equality as an aggressive act of female chauvinism.
The audience at the theatre where I watched the film revealed the deep-rooted hypocrisy of our so-called progressive society, as many laughed when the help complained about the ill-treatment she received from her husband. It was as if it’s just acceptable and normal for a housemaid to be mistreated at home, and only when a woman from higher strata of society raises a voice an issue gets validation.
Clearly, both men and women have a long way to go in terms of knowing when to put down your foot and take a stand against what’s wrong. If it feels wrong to you, it is as well wrong for that person who might be privileged with the same economic stability or social support as you.