After some gut-wrenchingly impactful socio-political dramas such as Mulk (2018) and Article 15 (2019), the pioneering director Anubhav Sinha is back with a bang…or shall I say, a slap? Well, it was just one slap and the game changed!
Rating – 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
We live in a society where exaggerated fights between the husband-wife is a norm, where women are bred to be tolerable and moldable so they can wholeheartedly commit to their marriages, regardless of the situation. But what happens when something goes wrong? Who’s to blame and who’s the victim? Sadly, nobody cares. And while the rest of the world is hellbent on persuading the woman to do damage control, make things right and move on; it gives me immense happiness to know that people like Anubhav Sinha, co-writer Mrunmayee Lagoo and firecracker actress Taapsee Pannu exist – who dare to break societal barriers and fearlessly illustrate the harsh, hurtful consequences of just one slap!
The story of a woman, Amrita (Taapsee Pannu), a happily married housewife to Vikram (Pavail Gulati) settled in Delhi. While the workaholic husband Vikram is desperate to relocate to London for work purposes, Amrita works equally hard, with longer hours, to look after the house, her husband as well as her mother-in-law Salochna (Tanvi Azmi). All is going (almost) well until one evening, amidst his celebratory party, Vikram receives business-related bad news and in the heat of the moment, slaps Amrita. What follows is her tremendously brave and tough battle against the world as she puts her foot down against the injustice of the slap.
“Just one slap lekin nahi maar sakta”
Thappad deliberately starts off with a sluggish, gradual pace to solidify the monotony of Amrita’s life – her patience and commitment to being a hardworking housewife is effectively shown through repetitive routine scenes pre-interval, allowing the audience to relate to and well-understand Amrita’s relationships with her husband, parents (Ratna Pathak Shah and Kumud Mishra), neighbor (Dia Mirza) before dropping the bomb that results in a cascade of difficult, consequential changes in everyone’s lives. Almost every scene, dialogue and character trait is intentional and here to serve a niche purpose of its own.
What I absolutely love about all of Anubhav Sinha’s films is his ability to holistically and crystal-clearly cover all perspectives to the topic at hand. He not only creates complex, layered characters with multiple personality shades but also makes oh-so-intelligent use of his supporting cast to further enlighten and fortify the film’s main conflict. We witness a single-mother widowed Dia Mirza saying “I would like to believe all men are wonderful people” to a stressed-out, concerned Ratna Pathak Shah’s “Auraton ko thoda toh sehna hi padta hai na”. Every viewpoint was intelligently laid out one after the other to maintain that mental stimulation throughout the film’s length. However, Thappad’s intensity peaked when the legals stepped into the picture – Maya Sarao plays the role of of Advocate Netra Jaisingh, who, despite suffering in unhappy marriage herself, starts off with “There has got to be something more…was it just a slap then?” and seamlessly transitions into “You’re doing the right thing”.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to compliment the fabulous, soul-touching performances of the entire cast – starting with the women of the hour, Taapsee Pannu, who holds on to her subtle composed acting style and flawlessly delivers an all-heart role as Amrita. Next up, the uff-too-attractive Pavail Gulati – his ability to immerse into an elaborate, intricate character such as Vikram’s was exceptional. But I absolutely cannot get over an adorable Kumud Mishra’s heart-winning performance as such a loving, perfect husband, father, even father-in-law – Kumud sir, I must say, you have set the bar a bit too high.
On the whole, Thappad was a multifocal approach to a commonly seen social issue with an applause-worthy ending – with a road-to-recovery Vikram stating “Iss baar mein tumhe kamaunga” establishing his regret for taking things for granted and his motivation to change for the better. A watch for every woman to know her tolerance, a watch for every man to understand boundaries. Eternally grateful to you, Anubhav Sinha.
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