Thappad – Review

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Thappad (meaning “slap”) is opened in a cheerful manner, showing several people (the majority of couples, whether married, dating, or perpetrators of infidelity) are happy, being romantic, or joking. Even in the first 25 minutes, after we visited the main partner, Amrita (Taapsee Pannu) and Vikram (Pavail Gulati), the joy is still there, like a light romantic comedy. Top Movie Site

Working at a company, Vikram is trying hard to achieve his dream of becoming a branch manager in London, while Amrita is a former dancer who gave up on pursuing her dream of becoming the world’s number one housewife. They are happy. Especially when Vikram’s ambition about London came true.

The party was held. Vikram’s family, friends, and colleagues were invited. You could say, everyone in their life was there. But the big celebration turned into a catastrophe. Vikram receives a call that the promotion is canceled. He could still go to London, but as a subordinate. An argument broke out between Vikram and one of his superiors, Amrita tried to intervene, but her husband slapped her. That’s when we realized, the film was deliberately made cheerful at the beginning, so that, like the character, the audience would be dumbfounded when the incident happened.

This slap is the beginning of exploration, the opening of social criticism which is also like a slap in the face of the audience. Amrita started to question everything. His marriage, his love. Vikram also wonders. Asked why that “trivial” incident made her smile disappear. Because for many men, women always have to smile.

Thappad
Thappad

The first sentence Vikram uttered to Amrita the following morning was not “sorry”, but justification, reasons, and concerns about how people viewed her. But what about Amrita? Imagine the feelings. How sick and ashamed to receive such treatment in a crowd of familiar people. Vikram says he wants to quit the job which he doesn’t appreciate, but is Amrita being appreciated?

Thappad is about many things, which the script by Anubhav Sinha (also the director) and Mrunmayee Lagoo put together in a fine 142 minutes of speech. The film invites us to think by showing various perspectives through various situations, where the protagonist’s conflict acts as a link. It didn’t take long for it to be revealed that the people in the opening sequence had some connection to the main character. Connections that occur imperceptibly, as a clever way to explore the issue. As I have already mentioned, at first they all look happy, but over time we can see the presence of sexism around every corner. Best Movie

Sexism (and patriarchy) is visible to the character, because it takes too long and often becomes a habit, or even a culture. Sunita (Geetika Vidya Ohlyan), a maid in our protagonist’s house, tells the story of her husband who often beat her at home while laughing, as if it’s a daily life for a husband and wife. On the way to the office, Vikram complained about people letting women drive cars, then when Amrita asked if she could learn to drive, Vikram said, “You better learn the past!”. And there are other cases.

The slap became a trigger, not only for Amrita, but also for the people around her regarding gender injustice. They start to react, think, even try to imagine what would happen if they were in a similar position. Thus, the audience can also get different perspectives.

Set in India where patriarchy is deeply rooted, this does not make this film exclusively for local people. Thappad is quite universal. Maybe you’ve heard some of the points of view of his character in everyday life. “Women have to learn tolerance in order to maintain a family. Women have to hold back their feelings. Sound familiar?

Remarkably, Thappad was fair in his criticism. We see some men “unite”, stating that Vikram’s actions are not a big deal, but on the other hand, there are also many women who are caught in the trap of a patriarchal mindset. Mrs. Amrita (Ratna Pathak Shah) considers that as a woman, leaving her daughter from home when she is feeling nervous due to her husband’s slapping, is not a good decision. Meanwhile, Netra (Maya Sarao), a lawyer who often fights for women’s rights, considers Amrita’s anger to be unreasonable. Why did that happen? Thappad has the answer. Parenting is clearly responsible.

Keeping so many subjects, can the film tell a solid story? Apparently capable. The issue was thoroughly explored, even though I had time to walk in place once it reached mid-duration. Some parts can be cut so there is no need to run for nearly two and a half hours, pacing can be more played, and all of that will not reduce its impact.

Every time the storytelling dynamics started to decline, the acting department came to help. The cast members did their respective portions well, but naturally, Taapsee Pannu stood out the most. The transition, from a radiant female figure to one who had lost all light, was reassuring. After the transition, although at first glance he didn’t change his expression much, his gaze and short words got sharper. We can feel whether he is sad, shocked, disgusted, angry, or all at once.

Apart from the success of exploring the issue, another achievement of the two writers is the matter of writing sentences that the characters pronounce. Anubhav Sinha and Mrunmayee Lagoo are adept at processing words, from those that make us aware, inform, provoke, or touch the heart, such as the last sentence that Vikram uttered to Amrita, which established Thappad’s status not as a spectacle full of anger or revenge, but a humanist story that based on love and care. We shouldn’t do anything wrong, but if we did, the best and first thing to do is apologize, before then try to be better, for yourself and your loved ones. Movie Review

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