There is a fine line between making a film on a real story and making one that tells a real story. Taapsee Pannu starrer Thappad firmly falls in the latter category. A powerful and impactful film, Thappad makes you angry and uncomfortable, and, at the same time, it makes you question the everyday misogyny that you willingly ‘adjust to’ in real life. Director Anubhav Sinha refuses to normalise issues that are taken for granted in a regular setup, instead he asserts and reasserts that even if it is ‘just one slap’, why and how can a man get away with it so easily?
The focus is on women who perpetuate sacrificing their own happiness and ambitions to end up being cheerleaders for the men in their lives.
Amruta (Taapsee Pannu) is one such housewife who goes about doing her duties towards her aggressively ambitious husband Vikram (Pavali Gulati) and her mother-in-law (Tanvi Azmi). Her father (Kumud Mishra) dotes on her while mother (Ratna Pathak Shah) has raised her to believe her husband’s happiness comes before her own. Amrita seems to fit in well with her duties, until one day in a fit of drunken rage, Vikram slaps her. Thereafter, Amruta sees her delusions melting away and she is unable to get herself to forget that humiliation.
Even when people around her try to trivialise and justify the incident, Amruta decides to take action.
Parallel to Amrita’s story, are the tales of three women facing patriarchy in their lives, in different forms.
Sinha’s attempt to showcase the privilege of an Indian man who doesn’t even realise that he’s making his wife feel inferior in every way possible is commendable.
However, there is such little meat in what’s happening in Amruta’s or the other three ladies’ lives that the second half of the film seems a bit too stretched to fit into the two hour duration. The story of a lawyer suffering at the hands of her narcissistic husband ( Manav Kaul) is a little disjointed and unconvincing. Dia Mirza’s track lacked a suitable story arc except for one or two interesting scenes.
Newcomer Pavail Gulati is fantastic as the confused Indian man who doesn’t even realise that he has outraged his wife’s modesty. Taapsee Pannu carries the role well. The other actors like Tanvi Azmi, Kumud Mishra and Ratna Pathak Shah give solid support.
This is a movie worth watching because it gives a new perspective to an age-old issue.