Writer-director Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad (slap), which he co-wrote with Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul, features Pannu as a stay-at-home wife whose feelings for her husband turn from devotion to indifference when he strikes her at some point . they need been a standard couple until then. He features a busy career, she makes his dreams her own. While he labours over office assignments, she labours over his every need, serving him meals, chasing him up to the car together with his wallet and a beverage while feeding him his unfinished breakfast, caring for his elderly mother, maintaining the house, entertaining guests.
They seem to be happy. So when she switches off after one slap, most of the people cannot understand. As he himself puts it, “Shit happens. It happens. People advance .”
Thappad isn’t a saga of multiple twists and turns, unlike Sinha’s earlier two politically charged films, Mulk and Article 15. This one has only one big twist – that slap – which is already within the trailer, but what follows may be a heroine’s dramatic inner journey and a gripping chronicle of how it impacts and/or exposes every single person in her life.
Pannu submits herself fully to the role of Amrita aka Amu. She is so immersed in her character that I almost did not notice how exquisite she looks within the film – there’s that too. She makes Amu’s smooth transition from smiling self-subordination within a wedding to shock to self awareness completely believable.
The wonderful Ratna Pathak Shah as Amu’s conflicted mother who evolves during the course of the story, Kumud Mishra as her evolved yet evolving father and Tanvi Azmi as her silently suffering saas form the backbone of Thappad’s large and talented supporting cast. Geetika Vidya shows up as a housemaid who refuses to permit her miserable domestic life to dull her sunny disposition, and is as convincing here as she was playing a combustible policewoman within the acclaimed Netflix original Soni. Ankur Rathee as Amu’s brother is that the only weak link within the chain.
The pleasant surprise of the cast on behalf of me was Dia Mirza. For years I even have noticed her solely for her delicate looks, but director Sinha manages to tap the artiste in her during a way others haven’t . She makes Amu’s supportive neighbour special and sweet.
As the problematic husband Vikram, Pavail Gulati has perhaps the trickiest job in Thappad since he has got to convey arrogance yet also help us understand why Amu may need loved him yet not command empathy. he’s a man who is kind to the household help, but thinks nothing of ordering his wife around sort of a junior at work. He doesn’t have horns on his head, he’s just another entitled jerk who is blinded by his male privilege. A fine actor, Gulati is up to the task.
Thappad beautifully spotlights various reminder men, from the haughty hero to a different much more likeable one that may be a stonished to get that he – like numerous men around us – is a feminist for his daughter but unconsciously patriarchal together with his wife.
The script particularly shines within the characterisation of Vikram. rather than lazily demonising him, Sinha and Waikul write him as precisely the type of chap about whom family and onlookers tend to mention indulgently in real world , “C’mon, he’s not such a nasty guy. People make mistakes. Shit happens.”
Thappad, unlike its many characters, makes no excuses for its actor . It stands out not merely for taking a stand against violence , but due to its involve intolerance . And while the audience may expend energy on wondering whether Vikram will apologise for his actions, the screenplay doesn’t make that Amu’s priority: because the assault startles her out of a stupor after which, faraway from being bothered about how he will now behave, she is off on an inner journey all her own.
For all this and more, Thappad may be a potent and engrossing film.
It does stumble occasionally though. The background score, for one, needed toning down within the half . Amu’s lawyer (Maya Sarao) features a relationship with a person that feels somewhat contrived for coolth. The narrative could have also avoided giving each primary character a redeeming moment within the end – not everyone grows, allow us to accept that. the ultimate exchange between Amrita’s brother and his girlfriend felt quite a touch stretched, and therefore the possibility the ending holds out for Vikram made me uncomfortable.
These are lesser issues than the way during which Thappad’s dialogues pointedly blame mothers for the way daughters are conditioned to simply accept mistreatment from spouses and deprioritise themselves, with a mention of a father almost as an afterthought. Brief though this is often , it’s a surprisingly conservative stand from an otherwise liberal film. in fact women are often enablers of patriarchy, but it’s one thing to state that – as Thappad does so well throughout – and quite another to possess characters playing along side prevalent notions about maternal-versus-paternal responsibility and also consciously playing down the accountability of the particular beneficiaries of patriarchy: men.
Whether to play to the gallery or thanks to a limited understanding of why financial settlements are granted to wives upon divorce, Thappad gets simplistic during a debate on this matter within the film. the smallest amount that Sinha and Waikul could have done was address the purpose that, among other things, such settlements are an acknowledgement of the unpaid work women neutralize home management, child rearing and elder care, leaving men liberal to earn.
These are incongruities during a film that otherwise marks a crucial moment within the history of Hindi cinema.