Thappad Movie Review: Taapsee Pannu starrer is not about criticising men, but showing them what needs mending
Thappad Movie Review: Anubhav Sinha, Taapsee Pannu and her co-stars make one reflect on the sense of male entitlement that is intricately woven into the society’s conscience.
Movie Name: Thappad
Thappad Director: Anubhav Sinha
Thappad Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Pavail Gulati
Thappad Stars: 4/5
It’s just a slap. Or is it? Anubhav Sinha’s latest film Thappad is a fluid screenplay that forces the audience to keep questioning itself of the time where we claimed and passed judgement on how women in the society should be more forgiving.
The makers explore the risk of alienating audience to a simultaneous-trance to check whether they stand guilty of judging the actions of women through the prism of inconspicuous male entitlement. Anubhav stays clear from the usual trap of creating a shero film based on male-bashing. He uses the script – and ‘minor’ instances – to show a mirror to the society.
Thappad is a story of Amrita (Taapsee Pannu) who is content shouldering her responsibility of being a homemaker and taking care of her family. Due to circumstances, she later decides to stand-up for herself even if it means going against her family, her husband and generations of mental conditioning. A slap forms the catalyst for her journey and a metaphor for the stories of many other women caught up in different versions of the same problem. Is one situation worse than the other? Or does one lead to another? This is the quintessential question that Anubhav and team make the viewers to ponder upon.
After Mulk and Article 15, Anubhav Sinha manages to impress us with yet another engaging story which is not filmy. Through the film, the makers capture critical and widely talked about issues about marital life like domestic violence, consent after marriage, ego battles, entitlement and day-to-day compromises. It showcases how women are expected to let go of their ambitions, identity and not even feel guilty for it.
If Thappad is a breathing script, its soul is Taapsee Pannu. The actor conveys her character (homemaker) with dignity, grace and conviction. She is neither less feminist when she is taking care of the family, nor more when she files for a divorce. There is a beautiful scene where her neighbour buys a new car. Her husband passes a snide remark on the neighbour’s character, questioning what does she even do. Amrita (Taapsee) responds with one word: Mehnat (hard work). Taapsee wins hearts with her expressions which show internal chaos while getting hit by reality. Her character goes through various emotions in every stage of the film, but her performance remains consistent and equally absorbing. Through the film, you sit and wonder when and where did she ditch her bubbly, girl-next-door persona with which she made her debut in Hindi film industry. Of course, her films such as Pink, Manmarziyaan, Badla, etc. exposed her capabilities. However, Thappad takes her to a new zenith. Her character speaks even when she is silent – a mark of a good actor.
It would be unfair if we don’t give enough credit for the spectacular choice of co-stars. Pavail Gulati is an excellent choice by the casting team. He is ruthless, self-centred, egoistic and immersed in the male entitlement. Yet he makes his presence felt in front of an actress like Taapsee. He looks real, honest and a perfect reflection of many men from the patriarchal society. Yet, the markers have walked on a strand of hair to not portray him as the ‘evil man’. He is what society made him. Taapsee’s on-screen parents Kumud Mishra and Ratna Pathak Shah are a treat for the viewers. Years of theatre shapes you to own the scene with simple body language and tonality. They are omnipresent.
Kumud Mishra lives on screen as a dad many girls need. Ratna Pathak Shah’s innocence adds some refreshing moments to this script. Kumud and Ratna’s on-screen chemistry is adorable. Ram Kapoor shines in his part as a lawyer who understands that winning a case isn’t always about putting forth a fact, but about adhering to the needs of the client. Maya Sarao steals the show with her elegance and acting skill as Taapsee’s lawyer. They don’t pretend to be the moral compass. They counsel their clients on why a legal case may deliver more agony than an amicable solution.
Tanvi Azmi is exceptional in emotional scenes who is dealing with her own dissatisfaction with life. Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Manav Kaul add value to this film. Dia Mirza has a small part to play but brings ease on-screen and convincingly breaks one stereotype at a time.
A film is a mere reflection of society. And the moment you conjure the courage to face it by sliding aside those rose-tinted glasses, reality hits you. At one juncture, the engraved sexism of the audience appals them to counter it with unjustifiable justification. Film Thappad is no less. It’s a beautiful depiction of what exists in society. But more critical is its soul which clamours for what must be mended. Frankly, it’s on the audience to understand the gravity of the issue. A solution, for some, might lie in using a plaster, and for others, a surgery.