02 Hours 22 Minutes
Star Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Tanvi Azmi, Sushil Dahiya and Dia Mirza
Directors: Anubhav Sinha
Producer: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar and Anubhav Sinha
In Theaters: 28 February 2020
The Slap That Awakens
Sometimes, a filmmaker has a great story to tell. Sometimes, he has a great comment to make. Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad falls in the second category and what a strong social comment he makes.
It’s a thin storyline. Amrita alias Amu gets slapped by husband Vikram before a houseful of guests. The world around her reasons that it’s just a slap, move on. But the slap makes something in her snap: she digs her heels in, no, she won’t move on. This thappad ki goonj awakens Amu to the choices she has willingly made. To be the perfect housewife, the partner that shares her husband’s ambitions, squirrelling just one hour a day for her own pleasure pastime of dancing.
No, she won’t go back to the marriage. Or to the man who wants to restore his conjugal rights but not say a simple ‘sorry’. Or to the house where her mother-in-law didn’t once tell her son that what he did was wrong. Go say ‘sorry’.
Very neatly, Vikram’s own words about his position in his workplace help Amu make up her mind. He utters lines like, ‘Mujhe wahan rehna nahin jahan meri koyi value nahin’ and ‘You have to put your bloody foot down in life’. Amu does precisely that.
Anubhav Sinha and co-writer Mrunmayee Lagoo add deft little touches that will make society change its ways. Like Amu’s parents who take up for their son’s girlfriend and ask him to get out of the house, not her.
Keeping the focus on Amu’s refusal to budge from her stand, Sinha also runs parallel stories of a few other women with only an orange ice gola linking them all. But the maid getting bashed by a drunken husband is an oft-used sub-text. And a celebrity lawyer’s fake double life doesn’t quite contribute to the narrative. It is ultimately Amu’s awakening that’s powerful and keeps the questions coming long after you’ve left the cinema hall.
There are bound to be many who’ll ask, why did Amu have to rock the boat when all was well and Vikram was not really a wife-beater? Don’t all relationships including marriage call for a bit of compromise?
But many more will stand by Amu, like her father did in the film. As a fine actor, Kumud Mishra adds so much more to the father’s presence in Amu’s life.
Taapsee Pannu who has grown into a substantial woman over the years, turns in another impactful performance as Amu. Newcomer Pavail Gulatiis surprisingly confident and comfortable as husband Vikram.
Verdict: For a film that makes a resounding social comment and triggers debate, Thappad gets a 4* rating.