The title is Thappad (slap) and the trailer reveals that it’s a movie about a woman who decides to file a divorce petition against her husband when he slapped her during a party. In our heads, we will be imagining the movie to have a husband character who has absolutely no regard for his wife and will be that brand ambassador of patriarchy. Where Thappad becomes a very interesting film is in its presentation of the male characters. Anubhav Sinha and his co-writer Mrunmayee Lagoo tries to make the characters look extremely real and that really makes the screenplay of the film a fascinating one as it wasn’t deliberately trying to create a bad person for the sake of creating a villain.
Amrutha and Vikram is a happily married couple. Amrutha wakes up every morning at 6 making sure everything goes fine and she is doing everything for Vikram who is right now prepping for a presentation that can help him to move to England. But the plot shifts drastically when Vikram slaps Amrutha in front of everyone during a party to celebrate his London shift. Something that happened on the heat of the moment becomes a huge issue when Amrutha decides to move against it legally and the movie is about that battle.
The character Kumud Mishra plays in this movie is of a husband who believes that he was always super supportive of his wife. There is a scene in the movie where he tells his wife played by Ratna Pathak Shah to keep Amrutha happy during her pregnancy like the way he kept her happy. And the movie then simply shows a frame of Mishra sleeping happily as Shah’s character sits there in despair. Out of many such impactful scenes from the movie I picked this one because it somewhere showed how less aware we are, especially men, about the suppression women face. Sinha and Lagoo in a way show that even the most supportive man who will look realistic for the viewer is far too naïve to understand the depth of women’s constraints in a relationship. Thappad is not trying to pitch the whole self-respect thing as a man versus woman issue. The reaction of the people around Amrutha is not at all animated and that’s the reason why we tend to ponder more about the complicated layers in a troubled relationship.
This is the third film of the revamped Anubhav Sinha after Mulk and Article 15. It is so heartening to see this shift in his craft. I can confidently say that he is not merely picking plots that are “issue-based”. There is a craft in his making. The way he constructed the slap scene is a good example of how good he is with the presentation. The scene where Amrutha talks to her mother in law about what she is going through during that pooja was another gem of a scene. The screenplay is also a carefully written one. Amrutha, her mother, mother in law, her maid, her neighbor, her sister in law, her lawyer, they all are facing a different version of the same disrespect. And the men in almost all those relationships are not those exaggerated chauvinists. Everyone who seems to be asking Amrutha to forget the slap and move on are chosen from reality and the movie’s success was in making us understand Amrutha’s trauma despite having such authentic characters. Soumik Mukherjee plays with the color palette effectively and the cuts by Yasha Ramchandani knew how to keep us invested in the movie. The music sort of stayed with me as the songs were placed perfectly into the narrative.
Taapsee Pannu sinks her teeth into this character brilliantly. Her performance as that vibrant and supportive wife is so likable that we won’t feel like asking her for a compromise when Vikram hits her. The traumatic phase of the character was also performed wonderfully by the actress. Tanvi Azmi as the mother in law of Amrutha was memorable and so was the naïve and suppressed mother character played by Ratna Pathak Shah. I really loved the earnestness with which Kumud Mishra played the father’s character. Pavail Gulati as Vikram had a tough task of presenting Vikram as a representation of a common male mindset and he did it neatly. Maya Sarao as Nethra and Geetika Vidya as Sunita deserve to be mentioned. The script is such that even cameo roles like that of Ram Kapoor, Dia Mirza and Manav Kaul will stay with us.
Advocates of conventional marriage might find this movie as a pro-divorce film. But if you look at the way this movie has been narrated, you will understand that it is talking about mutual respect in a relationship. Through those multiple stories of the women around Amrutha, Thappad also proves the point that moving on doesn’t always have to be associated with the word compromise.
Through those multiple stories of the women around Amrutha, Thappad also proves the point that moving on doesn’t always have to be associated with the word compromise.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended