Thappad is not a film about domestic violence, but about male-entitlement and pretence in Indian marriages. The film is about an upper-middle class couple, Amrita and Vikram, who have a set way of life where they follow set gender roles. There life takes a huge turn when Vikram played by Pavail Gulati slaps Amrita played by Taapsee Pannu in-front of family, friends and colleagues from work. This leads to the ideal daughter-in-law and wife not letting go of the humiliation and abuse, and leading to her thinking about getting a divorce. Here, Anubhav Sinha makes you question is a slap enough to end a marriage?
The film begins showcasing the relationship between the two people involved and suddenly changes its beautiful tone when Taapsee, a loving wife and daughter-in-law, plans to end her marriage because of her husband’s unapologetic behaviour. The slap reveals how generations of women in our society have been trained from speaking out about violence, their dreams and desires because of the betterment and well-being of their families. All older women in her life whether it’s her mother or mother-in-law tell her ‘aurat ko thora sensna paratha hai’. Throughout the film, Anubhav Sinha makes you wish that Vikram should have not slapped her. He wants to convey the message that Vikram is not a bad man, but just another entitled Indian male.
The film has been shot beautifully, and conveys the message to the audience in a very subtle way. Taapsee Pannu and Pavail Gulati have given amazing performances, but the film is really held by Taapsee and her character – Amrita’s character is very fragile, at the same time very strong on her belief that my husband cannot hit when asking her lawyer to file for a divorce. Lawyer finds a slap shocking to be a ground for divorce. Taapsee has taken her performance to another level, and understood the depth of her character and portrayed it beautifully on the screen.
Thappad’s social messaging about issues regarding marriages in India which transits class and generation lines will make men question themselves internally and makes women introspect years of conditioning to let men go of such sexist behaviour. I am going with four out of five stars for Thappad. It is a much-needed film for our society.