Rajeev Masand’s Review Of Chhapaak

Cast: Deepika Padukone, Vikrant Massey, Madhurjeet Sarghi, Ankit Bisht, Anand Tiwari, Vishal Dahiya
Director: Meghna Gulzar

Chhapaak, directed by Meghna Gulzar, will get its title from the sound of a splash. Sadly that is no splash from kids leaping into puddles of rain, or the splash of colored water when squirted on mates throughout Holi. You already know that the splash in query is the sound and the drive of acid flung to the face.

Co-written by Meghna and Atika Chohan, the movie is predicated on the true story of Laxmi Agarwal, who in 2005 on the age of 15 turned the sufferer of an acid assault…considered one of over 200 ladies in India every year who’re on the receiving finish of this heinous crime, a closing slate tells us. But it takes the deeply evocative lyrics of the movie’s title track, written by Meghna’s father Gulzar, to know the whole magnitude and implication of the crime: “Koi chehra mita ke aur aankh se hata ke chandd chheente uda ke jo gaya, chhapaak se pehchaan le gaya.” Indeed it’s not nearly disfiguring somebody or erasing their face; it’s about destroying their very soul.

Laxmi, nonetheless, refused to let the incident crush her. She underwent a number of reconstructive surgical procedures, she fought the case towards her attacker over years, filed a PIL towards the sale of acid, and labored with an NGO devoted to serving to acid assault survivors. Chhapaak not solely celebrates Laxmi’s will to outlive and overcome the tragedy, it additionally asks essential questions. Why doesn’t our authorized system deal with acid assaults as gravely as rape? Is 10 years of imprisonment an enough punishment for scarring somebody’s face and life completely? Why is acid so simply out there throughout the counter?

The movie sticks carefully to Laxmi’s story however modifications the names of characters and minor particulars, presumably for authorized causes. Deepika Padukone performs the protagonist Malti, a 19-year-old from a working class household in Delhi, whose completely bizarre life comes undone when a household buddy whose romantic overtures she ignored decides to show her a lesson.
Deepika brings a quiet dignity to the position. She doesn’t merely apply the prosthetic to her face, she slips underneath it to turn out to be the character. This isn’t a type of actor-sheds-her-beauty-for-street-cred initiatives; this can be a absolutely realised efficiency. Watch as she lets out that visceral scream after her face within the mirror for the primary time for the reason that assault. Her efficiency reveals each vulnerability and willpower as Malti goes via painful medical therapy, or struggles to discover a job, or offers with social rejection.

Admirably Meghna treats these scenes with nice sensitivity, however with out ever soft-peddling the gravity of Malti’s expertise. Melodrama is minimal right here. An extended-than-usual stare, a mom diverting her baby’s face on a bus, an off-the-cuff remark concerning the want for magnificence in a magnificence parlour when she exhibits up in search of a job. The level is made.

The considerate, unflashy writing extends additionally to the character of Amol (Vikrant Massey), who’s the pinnacle of the NGO the place Malti lastly will get a job. Their relationship is dealt with properly, and Vikrant, who is an excellent actor, conveys the frustrations and the despair of a dedicated activist with piercing honesty. He has no time to have a good time small victories; he has his eye on the large image. In one beautiful scene after an irritable outburst on his half Malti reminds him that acid was thrown on her, not him.

The movie advantages from casting comparatively unknown actors in key supporting roles. It helps floor the movie in realism. It’s becoming additionally that Malti’s attacker doesn’t dominate the story, as a result of it’s actually not essential who he’s. What is essential is why he did it. Meghna additionally doesn’t make a giant deal about his faith. That’s not essential both.

The weak spot right here is the sluggish screenplay. There isn’t loads occurring when Malti isn’t on display, and the backwards and forwards nature of its narrative solely provides it an episodic really feel. Good factor then that the movie is simply two hours in period, in order that feeling that it’s working out of steam doesn’t final too lengthy.

The filmmakers deserve credit score for by no means in search of our pity. They have an excessive amount of respect for the ladies who’ve survived these horrible assaults that they don’t manipulate us into shedding tears. If you’re choked it’s as a result of the truth of what it depicts is often overwhelming.
I’m going with three-and-a-half out of 5 for Chhapaak. Its energy is in its quietude. It goes about its enterprise with minimal fuss. The movie is each transferring and essential. And its main girl is in very advantageous kind.

Rating: 3.5 / 5