Home Cinema Through the intertwined lives of the characters, Thappad contemplates the nuances of...

Through the intertwined lives of the characters, Thappad contemplates the nuances of the age-old institution of marriage

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Film Review                                                            Thappad

By SUNITA VIJAY

The deafening sound of a slap from an ambitious husband to a devoted wife strikes like lightening; a huge pause, a vacuum, an eerie silence follows. Everything fell like a pack of cards in the life of Amrita (Taapsee Pannu) ensuing that slap – a jolt that awakens her from a slumber. The blow from Vikram (Pavail Gulati) blew her mind off. If the title of the movie had not been Thappad, if the life of the couple had not taken a justifiable 180 degree turn after this incidence, if the supremacy of patriarchy ingrained in our system for years had not been challenged through this highlighting moment, I am sure the complacent society’s soch would have let that moment pass, unnoticed, untampered. No one would have paused to rethink about the electrifying effect of a ‘mere’ slap on a woman’s psyche. Was it truly – Shit happens? But Thappad sincerely explores this, ranging over the emotional wound it inflicted. Many viewers may not have pondered over this humiliation, forgetting how much a woman invests in her spouse and his family in her lifetime, emotionally and physically both. Anubhav Sinha’s thoughtful writing and sensitive direction makes this ‘thappad’ a symbol of domestic violence on women, that stirred Amrita, a representative of all those women who have been conditioned for years to ignore such incidents as trivial. Anubhav develops this piece wholesomely and a monologue in the end convinces one and sundry, ‘thappad nahin marna tha’.
It all happened in the spur of the moment. While celebrating his success, when Vikram is put off with a contradictory career-related news, he slaps his wife as she tries to steer him away from conflict. Their life, thereon, turned topsy-turvy. Did Amrita overreact? No! It was a terrible assault to her ego and identity, to years of her devotion, commitment, sacrifice and love. The years of upbringing, the notes from elderly women, the ones who have succumbed to this treatment, who believe that only the girls have to stretch their tolerance in marriage and have to provide a one-sided cordial support to make the marriage run, has kept women as silent sufferers. This movie comes as a wind of change, redefining the level of forbearance, reviewing the situation while it sets new acceptable boundaries.
Thappad beautifully covers different ages and stages of relationships among characters, interlinking their lives and their evolvement through Amrita’s case. All these women, from different economic backgrounds are fighting their own demons in marriage, primarily due to the paramountcy of their hubbies and the universal societal bondage, ‘log kaya kahenge’. A fire brand woman lawyer turns weak and meek at home. Her husband makes her realise each day the name and legacy he and his family has bestowed on her to ensure her rise in career. A maid accepts all physical abuses and violence from her brutal husband as something normal. A widow refuses to search another wonderful man in her life who could rise up to the level of her deceased husband. Another couple is perfect, with a fairly understanding husband but later it is made known that the wife sacrificed many things for the sake of the family. All these sets of emotions involved in different lives are spun flawlessly, not missing the minutest of details in terms of expressions and emotions.
Taapsee has worked with Anubhav in Mulk. She is expressive as Amrita. Taapsee’s dialogues are short but effective. The well-crafted speech she is made to deliver at the end shakes the patriarchal foundation vigorously. She is a sweet-natured person raised by an equally loving father, Kumud Mishra (a part played so well), who raises the bar of a good man in her life and stands by her side in all odds. Ratna Pathak is superb as a typical Indian mother who believes in adjustment from girl’s side.
Gulati is comfortable in his skin. Maya Sarao (Amrita’s lawyer) is a woman suffocated in her own marriage, who discovers herself through Amrita’s case. Tanvi Azmi (Amrita’s mother-in-law), victim of a loveless marriage, lives away from an uncaring husband, experiences stress-related health issues but still favours her son. Dia Mirza (Amrita’s neighbour) adds another angle to marriage with her pleasing role and presence. Geetika Vidya Ohlya (Amrita’s maid) is a fun watch. With her Haryanvi accent and superb acting she remains in her element. Naila Grewal (Amrita’s brother’s fiancée) rightly supports the woman in Amrita. This incidence makes her understand her relationship and life much better.
The intricacies, predicament, fears, strengths of all the characters have been handled in depth. Each character comes up with at least one underlining dialogue that defines their stand with brilliance. The music by Anurag Saikia knows well where to be silent and where to make the rightful noise to accent the emotions.
Amrita’s realisation through, ‘Pata hai uss Thappad se kya hua?..uss ek Thappad se naa muje woh saari unfair cheezein saaf saaf dikhne lag gayi jisko main andekha karke move karti jaa rahi thi’ and the ending dialogue by Vikram, ‘Iss baar kamaunga tujhe’, making him realise that a woman and her love has to be earned and not taken for granted even after marriage.
Without male bashing or lopsided sexiest approach, Anubhav Sinha safely brings out the movie from the trials and turmoil of marriage and lands it at a platform where it can guide and direct many others in the same situation. A must watch!