Thappad co-writer Mrunmayee Lagoo has emphasised on the importance of both, male and female gaze while presenting a character.
Lagoo, who has been garnering much appreciation for her work on Anubhav Sinha's Thappad even before its release, all thanks to its multiple private screenings across the country, opened up about working with the male director during a Q and A session post one such show in Mumbai recently.
"This male and female gaze conversation has started only recently. Especially when there's a film with a woman protagonist, it comes up even more. We had a lot of arguments but those were not because of a difference of opinions but about an aesthetic choice of how to do something."
Lagoo added that it was Anubhav's male gaze that made the film's protagonist Amrita, played by Taapsee Pannu, "well rounded."
"For me, the learning was when he was handling Amrita's character on set, I was looking at her in a certain way, which was my informed thinking of how this kind of a woman should be. He had a different, interesting view about her. He saw her as someone who could be flawed as well.".
"That was one of the biggest contributions of male gaze, for creating Amrita as a well rounded character. I feel whatever the gaze is, for whichever subject it is, it's important for both male and female writers to be able to imagine it from both perspectives as much as possible. Until then, be it a female protagonist or a male, the character doesn't reach any completion with just one gaze."
Thappad, also featuring Ratna Pathak Shah, Tanvi Azmi, Kumud Mishra, Pavail Gulati and Dia Mirza, focuses on a woman seeking divorce after her husband slaps her at a party.
Lagoo further explained that Thappad along with the feminist narrative has multiple other narratives that audiences, especially women, could identify with.
"I met Anubhav once and he told me the whole idea, and as a writer I was trying to get a footing at the time and I'd heard a lot of ideas by then. But this was one really hit me. I told him that I'd think about it but even about a month later, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was like, 'It's such a simple idea, why did I not think of it first?' So, a long time went in feeling really jealous of him. But after I overcame the jealousy, I realised that it was going to be really tough to crack. Because it is something all of us have thought about and experienced, so how are we going to make a 2-hour long film about this one incident. That's how the process began for me.
"It was initially just about Taapsee and Pavail's characters' narratives. We always discussed that there should be other women and their stories but it hadn't come across as an ensemble until that point. But when Anubhav cracked the opening credits, I thought it was a really one stroke of brilliance because that led us into an ensemble while maintaining the spike of Amrita's narrative."
Thappad is scheduled to hit the theatres on February 28.