After Mulk (2018), which touched upon the sensitive issue of Islamophobia and the prejudices that come with it, filmmaker Anubhav Sinha and actress Taapsee Pannu are back with another hard-hitting social issue in Thappad.
The trailer of Thappad created quite the buzz and rightfully so. The plot takes a stand on social issues such as misogyny, physical abuse and domestic violence, which is a total respite amidst the current remake and sequel's trend in Bollywood.
As can be figured from the trailer of Thappad, it revolves around a woman (Taapsee Pannu) and her husband (Pavail Gulati), who are a happily married couple. Taapsee plays the perfect home-maker Amrita, who backs up her husband through thick and thin, until things take a turn for the worse. Pavail slaps her, out of frustration at their house party, when she tries to stop an escalating argument.
What follows is an epiphany and sheer determination to put a full stop to the beginning of a prospective physically abusive relationship with a divorce.
As a woman, and also a firsthand witness of domestic violence, Thappad looks promising to me. Taking Anubhav’s directorial track into consideration and adding to it Taapsee’s realistic acting skills, Thappad can start a dialogue around various relevant social issues in its narrative, to say the least.
Thappad’s about how even one slap, although unintentionally, is also the first sign of an abusive relationship despite a defensive argument that it ‘may not’ go bad. It’s further addressed with a solution; a response not be based on future probability, but on the present action.
The slap here, then speaks a lot more than a physical assault. It mirrors suppression, the beginning of an aggressive relationship, and how it all starts with a 'it's not a big deal' attitude.
Thappad trailer gives a peak into the backdrop of the film, a mirror to the typical Indian setting which echoes how such things are normal between a married couples. Parts played by Ratna Pathak Shah, Maya Sarao and another work colleague portray how the society as a whole makes it even tougher for women to get up on their own feet.
In of the dialogues in Thappad, a work colleague says, “When you’re truly in love, thodi boht maar peet to expression of love hi hain na,” is also a jibe at the recent Kabir Singh debate. The cringe dialogues like “Bas yahi sunna reh gaya tha, beti divorce karegi” and “Jaane de beta, thoda bardaasht karna seekhna chaiye aurato ko” not only hark back to wandering misogyny but successfully make one uncomfortable with their own truth, which is also the very aim of Thappas. Kumud Mishra as Taapsee’s father is the other voice of reason, who has his daughter’s back at all time.
Setting of the story is in a modern family in Thappad that further proves how the issue of domestic violence has nothing to do with education or class but with the mentality of people.
The concept of Thappad seems to have been highlighted in a subtle but powerful manner. Taapsee’s nervous fumbling where she says, “Just a slap. But nahi maar sakta,” shows how she is trying to rise up and against all who normalise violence in a relationship, all while also being aware about how big the step is and what is at stake.
In an earlier interview with PTI, Taapsee had in fact said about Thappad, "We are trying to bring out the elephant in the room. Let's see how many discussions or how many awkward silences are there after people see the film."
Thappad's story indeed looks like a step towards trying to curb the normalisation of violence in a relationship. The movie is hopefully going to put into perspective how channeling your frustration, thinking that it was okay to do so and expecting things to go back to normal is incorrect and the damage caused is irrevocable.
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